Being a long-time student of the French culture and language, I have always loved the concept of raison d’être, translated as “reason for being” or soul purpose. I appreciate that the French thought enough of the importance of one’s life purpose to create verbiage around it.
In a recent conversation, I learned that apparently the French weren’t the only ones who had enough reverence for this notion to make room for it in their language. The Japanese word ikigai has come to mean, through western translation, one’s best life purpose and most meaningful pursuit that brings happiness and balance.
I say “it has come to mean” because, upon further investigation of the methodology behind what we know of as ikigai, I found that the original Japanese meaning and the westernized framework that we have placed upon it are two separate things. The model we typically see and use today was first introduced by Marc Winn. A great article explaining all of this can be found at Ikigai Tribe.
Whether the actual meaning of ikigai is what the system explains or not, I like the tool and think it’s worth sharing as a great way to organize one’s choices around value, passion and purpose.
For the sake of fairness and honor for the true Japanese meaning of ikigai, I will continue by referring to the well-known ikigai construct as the Western Ikigai Model (WIM).
So, what did Marc Winn help to establish that now is used by coaches, executive trainers and leadership experts to help people find their true passion, purpose and value?
In simple terms, the WIM is about discovering and creating balance between …
- What you LOVE
- Where your BRILLIANCE & ACHIEVEMENT RESIDE (natural and acquired skills)
- What the WORLD NEEDS
- What is VALUED BY OTHERS (what people will pay for)
The general concept of WIM is about taking a holistic look at the key core principles of one’s life in order to determine where a person’s value can be most valuable and valued by others, while, at the same time, provide the highest degree of happiness, fulfillment and sense of purpose for the person.
In many ways, WIM allows one to balance the spiritual with the practical. This is a theme we’ve been seeing more and more as people seek both success in the traditional sense and a deeper connection to meaningful pursuit, both in owning who they are and what they choose to do to create their legacy.
Since the core focus of my own sole purpose is all about doing this for myself, and supporting others to do the same, I find the simplicity of the WIM framework and teachings to be valuable.
From the basic principles previously mentioned, the WIM goes on to add the definitions and distinctions for …
- Passion: what you are good at + what you love
- Mission: what you love + what the world needs
- Profession: what you’re good at + what others will pay you for
- Vocation: what the world needs + what others will pay you for
The intersection of these four areas becomes the target or your life’s purpose (ikigai).
A further look at some of the other points just outside our life’s purpose help to explain how and why we experience …
- Satisfaction, but a feeling of inutility
- Delight and usefulness, but no wealth
- Excitement and gratification, but a sense of insecurity
- Comfort, but a feeling of emptiness
A great article by mindfulness coach Marion Tilly discusses the steps and questions to ask to begin utilizing the WIM to determine the course of your own legacy.
As someone who focuses my efforts on supporting and potentiating visionaries in their lives and leadership, I like to talk with my clients about defining the gap they are here to fill. Every visionary looks into life and sees what’s missing. We may be here to fill one big gap or a series of them throughout our lives, but a great part of establishing an understanding of our soul’s mission is knowing the gaps we’re here to fill, and the WIM can be an effective tool to help zero in on this.
So, to answer the original question, “What does life purpose have to do with leadership and legacy?”
My answer? It has everything to do with it.