Cherry Blossom

I just love the cherry blossom at this time of year. Whether that’s because the tree is just so darn pretty or because it’s the first sign (finally) that spring is around the corner, or whether it’s because it transports me back to reading bedtime stories to my then three year old. (This latter point may need a short explanation: a cartoon dog called Kipper in one of my son’s books gambled mischievously through the fallen cherry blossom which made me see this annual event in a brand new way. And believe me, once your son grows into the grunting phase, you need to remember their three year old sweet self to keep you sane). So in my world, cherry blossom is a good thing.

Apparently, Japan has cherry blossom to end all cherry blossom comparison. Wins hands down by all accounts. And while we’re on the topic of Japan (well I was anyway), let’s also revisit the Ikigai model. Or perhaps, more correctly, journey, if we are to capture the ethos (and value) of this approach. I’m a big fan.

In this season of new growth, it’s perhaps appropriate to think about our own growth towards what makes us feel happy, contented and fulfilled. Our Ikigai (literally translated as a reason for being), found through self-reflection and a connection with what’s important, gives us our own unique sense of what makes life worthwhile; it’s our source of value about the world. It’s the intersection of:

  • What we love
  • What the world needs
  • What we can be paid for
  • What we are good at

When I work with leaders, the Ikigai model can really help unlock that person’s potential. It’s worth taking time over each main circle of the diagram in turn and ideally over different sessions, using different methods to access quality answers. In my experience, just thinking through each circle will only get you so far. To deepen your insights, it’s worth investing some time to process at the affective (feeling) level. Everyone will have their favourite way of doing this but here are some of my favourites: creating metaphors, setting a clear question then doing something physical like swimming or running or walking, meditating on a theme, or listening to how people respond to you and what they validate and value about you.

You won’t get answers overnight, well probably not anyway, because the goal here is the quality of the journey rather than the destination. And that’s quite an interesting concept for we task-based achievers to get our heads around. But it’s worthwhile because even if you’re in a job that’s not your dream job (yet) and let’s face it, we’ve all been there, you can find your version of Ikigai through what you do right now.

And my Ikigai? Helping people and organisations find theirs. No kidding.

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