Ikigai (生き甲斐) is a Japanese concept that means « a reason for being », equivalent to the Western concept of « purpose », at the very center of four dimensions: what we love, what we are good at, what the world needs and what we can be paid for. In other words, it is more fulfilling and rewarding than passion, mission, profession and vocation.
Finding your own ikigai and living it is securing a fruitful career.
To illustrate this, I invite you to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a 2011 American documentary film directed by David Gelb. The film follows Jiro Ono (小野 二郎 Ono Jirō), an 85-year-old sushi master and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant. Sukiyabashi Jiro is a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station.
Soundtrack: Philip Glass, Tchaikowski, Richter, Mozart and Bach.
A few quotes…
« There are some who are born with a natural gift. Some have a sensitive palate and sense of smell. That’s what you call « natural talent ». In this line of business, if you take it seriously, you’ll become skilled. But if you want to make a mark in the world, you have to have talent. The rest depends on how hard you work. »
« All I want to do is make better sushi. I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is. »
« Always doing what you are told doesn’t mean you’ll succeed in life. »
« If I stopped working at 85, I would be bored out of my mind… I have been able to carry on with the same job for 75 years. It’s hard to slow down. I guess I’m in the last stretch of the race. »
« Always try to elevate your craft. »
And you, what is your ikigai?