Finding or identifying your Ikigai means being consistent with its “BIG WHY“.

It is the Japanese equivalent of “joy of life” and “reason of being”.

Ikigai allows you to find your purpose.

Although the meanings are the same, cultural attitudes towards the concept are different.




How to define his Ikigai?

IKIGAI is a Japanese word. It is made up of: “IKI” which means “to live”, “GAI” which means “reason”.

As shown in the diagram below, the IKIGAI would be at the junction of 4 components:

  1. Passions
  2. Talents
  3. What the world needs
  4. What you get paid for

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The Concept

The concept of ikigai is said to have evolved from the basic health and wellness principles of traditional Japanese medicine.

This medical tradition holds that physical wellbeing is affected by one’s mental–emotional health and sense of purpose in life.

Japanese psychologist Michiko Kumano (2017) has said that ikigai is a state of wellbeing that arises from devotion to activities one enjoys, which also brings a sense of fulfillment.

Michiko further distinguishes ikigai from transitory pleasure (hedonia, in the ancient Greek sense) and aligns it with eudaimonia – the ancient Greek sense of a life well lived, leading to the highest and most lasting form of happiness.

Ikigai also resonates with Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy’s emphasis on pursuing activities that produce enjoyment and a sense of mastery, specifically as a way to alleviate depressive disorder.

Ken Mogi, a neuroscientist and author of Awakening Your Ikigai, says that ikigai is an ancient and familiar concept for the Japanese, which can be translated simply as “a reason to get up in the morning” or, more poetically, “waking up to joy.”




The IKIGAI brings me to the famous WHW “Why” or “What For” that Simon Sinek talks about in his book: “Start with the why?”

According to Simon Sinek, what great leaders like Steve Jobs had in common was that they applied the WHY method to influence a large community.

This method of communication is called the Golden Circle in that it answers three essential questions: What (What), How (How) and Why (Why).

People buy because of emotions; they buy your BIG WHY, then they buy HOW and the WHAT last.

Why – Why the company exists.

How – How the company accomplishes its why.

What – What is the company doing to accomplish its why.




Sinek explains that ‘Why’ is probably the most important message that an organization or individual can communicate as this is what inspires others to action.

‘Start With Why’ is how you explain your purpose and the reason you exist and behave as you do.

Sinek’s theory is that successfully communicating the passion behind the ‘Why’ is a way to communicate with the listener’s limbic brain.

This is the part of our anatomy that processes feelings such as trust and loyalty – as well as decision-making.

Successfully articulating your ‘Why’ is a very impactful way to communicate with other humans, define your particular value proposition and inspire them to act.

Sinek’s theory is that communicating ‘Why’ taps into the part of the listener’s brain that influences behavior.

This is why the Golden Circle model is considered such an influential theory of leadership.

At an organizational level, communicating you’re ‘Why’ is the basis of a strong value proposition that will differentiate your brand from others.




The organization’s ‘How’ factors might include their strengths or values that they feel differentiate themselves from the competition.

Sinek’s view is that ‘How’ messaging is also able to communicate with the limbic brain – the important part that governs behavior and emotion.

But his opinion is that organizations would do better to improve how they articulate their ‘Why’, in addition to ‘How’.




It’s fairly easy for any leader or organization to articulate ‘What’ they do.

This can be expressed as the products a company sells or the services it offers.

For an individual, it would be their job title.

Sinek argues that ‘What’ messaging only engages with the neocortex – the part of our brain that’s rational.

His argument is that this part of the brain is less of a driver of decision making than the limbic brain: the part that ‘Why’ and ‘How’ reaches better.

Successful people and organizations express why they do what they do rather than focusing on what they do.




Always start with your why.

Why are you in this business?

What motivates you?

Next, explain how your business is going to accomplish its why.

Finally, describe in concrete terms what your business is doing to bring its why to life.

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