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The Japanese secret to undertake with meaning

All people must find their "ikigai" to be happy in life. Do you already have yours?

This article was translated from our Spanish edition. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. This article was updated on July 31, 2021

The best kept secret for entrepreneurship and success comes from the remote and small island of Okinawa in Japan. It is said that its inhabitants have a purpose for which to get up every morning and enjoy life.

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We hear a lot about why it is so important to have a business with a purpose beyond money. Tony Robbins , best-selling author, life coach and public speaker, is convinced that just accumulating achievements will not bring you happiness or success. Robbins says “when you add value to people's lives and you can see their faces light up, that doesn't compare to money. If you run your business in a way that adds value to people, you will do well financially ”.

On the other hand, Simon Sinek, author of "Start With Why" (The key is why), talks about the importance of all people and businesses wonder why their existence. Sinek says "people do not buy what you do, but the reason why you do it." If that motivation is not clear and there is no purpose behind the companies, they will be like an aimless weather vane, full of confused customers and unmotivated employees.

A recent Deloitte study reveals that organizations that focus their energies on a purposeful culture that goes beyond making money are more successful in the long run.

It is proven that 90% of people who say they work in an organization governed with a sense, consider that they are doing well financially. On the other hand, 58% of millennials are willing to receive 15% less of their salary if their values are aligned with the purpose of the company.

In short, purposeful companies have higher talent retention and more motivated employees. Not only that, they also have more loyal and brand-committed customers.

Businesses that do not have a purpose are increasingly losing market share to firms that are not only focused on being profitable, but also add value to the community.

For example, TOMS casual shoes are environmentally friendly products and promote the donation of a pair of glasses to a child or older adult for each pair they sell. Whole Foods established community days when 5% of net sales go to local non-profit foundations.

What does it have to do with Okinawa?

All these companies come up because they have what in Okinawa they call ikigai , the reason for existing of each one of us, aligned with the motivation of the world around us. It is a philosophical concept that talks about giving meaning to life.

The Japanese say that we all have an ikigai , but getting there requires deep introspection and self-knowledge. It is the only thing that will give us full satisfaction and meaning to our life, purpose.

It is no coincidence that Okinawans are the longest-lived on the planet.

The ikigai concept can easily be transferred to the world of entrepreneurship and business. It is made up of four large areas that we could illustrate as interlocking circles.

1. What we like to do: what we really enjoy and that we could do every day without getting bored.

2. What we are good at: our abilities and talents, our strengths in front of others.

3. For what they can pay us: the way to monetize and insert ourselves in the market.

4. What the world needs: the value we add to the community and to others.

As these areas intertwine, others appear, but if the four factions do not connect, the ikigai can never be reached. When starting a business it is very important that you take these parts of your motivation into account, otherwise you will not be able to guarantee long-term success.

Maybe you can do what you really like and enjoy, for which you have the skills and passion to achieve it, but if you do not align it with the market, you will simply have a hobby or a business doomed because it will not be profitable.

Even if your business adds value to the community, you have the skills and abilities to do so, you have the passion and you enjoy it, but again it is not aligned with the market, what you have is not a business, it is a foundation or an organization without profit, in other words you will be happy but poor.

On the other hand, if you align it with the market and have the ability to make it profitable but without adding value to the community or people, you will have a hollow and purposeless business that, as we have already seen, will lose market share compared to others. that they do. Your customers will lose interest and your collaborators will not be sufficiently engaged.

Finally, if you manage to have a business that gives value to the community, that is part of a market but you do not have the skills or talents and it is simply something that you do not like, you will end up on a dark and boring path being an employee of yourself, frustrated by the inability to succeed due to lack of skills or unmotivated by having entered a daily routine that will drag on without end.

To be able to combine these four great areas is not an easy task and as the Japanese say, very few manage to reach their ikigai in life. But if at the moment of undertaking we cement our vision in these areas - what we like to do, what we are skilled at, what they can pay us for and how we add value to our community - we will be guaranteeing a future with a life purpose for our organization and, in addition, personal, professional and financial success.

If you want to know more details about the Ikigai and how to get there? I invite you to download it totally free my ebook titled The Ikigai of Success. How to be successful in life, in business and help the world along the way . Or if you prefer, you can also buy it online and 100% of the proceeds will go to foundations and non-profit organizations and community support, which you can follow up on my blog www.lideremprendedor.com .