With Ikigai to More Meaning in Working Life

A few years ago I discovered the books “The Café on The Edge of The World” and the “The Big Five for Life“, in which John Strelecky invites us to recognize the purpose of our own existence and to align our own actions with it. We are not talking here about the search for a universal meaning of life or recipe for happiness, but about how to find meaning and fulfillment in all areas of one’s life, both privately and at work.


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Interview mit Simon Sinek

In an interview Simon Sinek says: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress, working hard for something we love of is called passion” and that each and every one of us has the right to have a job they love and give everything for it!

Yes, it’s ultimately about the motivation and energy with which we face everyday life. Especially in these turbulent times, which can be quite energy-sapping for all of us, it’s not a bad exercise to reflect on what drives us.

I talked about this with Frank Brück. Frank is Executive Vice-President, of the GOLDEN for Impact Foundation (Global Organizational Learning and Development Network – for Sustainability) and founder of the IKIGAI Corporation. He helps people, especially leaders, find meaning in their work.

Frank, how did you come up with the idea of applying the Ikigai philosophy ( life philosophy of the inhabitants of the Japanese island of Okinawa) to the corporate context?

Frank Brück: I have been working in the areas of leadership, organizational development and sustainability for 30 years. Many models exist to define what makes or should make a company successful. But no model really addresses today’s challenge of sustainability itself. For example, Jim Collins’ Good to Great model of the 1990s looks at only three perspectives: What can we become best at? What is our economic engine? What is our passion? In my opinion, this explains the scandals of some of these “great” companies, which are a consequence of a lack of corporate ethics. The factor of responsible behavior is missing, but it is becoming more and more important today and is at the core of sustainability.

What makes the Ikigai model so special?

Frank Brück: One locates the Ikigai over four dimensions, to which these four questions apply:

  1. What do I love to do?
  2. What am I good at?
  3. What does the market need?
  4. What does the world need?

Ikigai refers to the meaningfulness of one’s work. Unlike other philosophies, however, Ikigai does not stop at what one finds personal fulfillment in, but also asks what one can do for others and for what there is a market. This, in my eyes, is the true core of meaningful work and it is why I became an Ikigai trainer. We have made Ikigai measurable and also applied it to organizations.

On a corporate level, then, the IKIGAI means integrating know-how and knowledge (what WE are good at), motivation and passion (what WE love to do), business acumen and entrepreneurial thinking (what the market needs), and impact and sustainability (what the world needs). When this integration succeeds, you can develop an organizational culture that fosters self-motivation, creativity, value generation, and strong values.

How will you find your Ikigai, as a person, as a leader, as an organization?

Of course I recommend you Frank’s book: “IKIGAI for Leaders and Organisations: The Way to Individual and Collective Purpose and Meaning“, but also the book “Ikigai“ by Francesc Miralles and Héctor García.

Picture: Unsplash License, Darius Bashar

Graph by Agile Sketching. Erfahren Sie mehr über Agile Sketching.

Written by

Helene Valadon Helene Valadon

Hélène Valadon is undoubtedly one of the most high-profile Enterprise Agile Coaches in the DACH region. For more than ten years, she has primarily worked on designing and supervising transformation programs for large corporations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is the go-to person for executive management. Over the years, she has gathered professional experience in various branches and various departments and has long been an advocate for agility “Beyond IT” because of her experiences. This native Frenchwoman has the priceless ability to resolve even the tensest situations with an exceptional blend of accent, humor and coaching competence. And her belief in the potential of every individual means she brings out the best in each person.  

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