Post the slow release from enforced confinement, as organisations are distancing themselves from the fear of Covid and its debilitating influence, a large number of young and even older members of the workforce are returning to their physical spaces with a mixture of relief and trepidation. I sense urgency in them, a need to get on with life and work which yield results at a pace that will provide quick and tangible answers to the many questions people have.

One of the questions that seems to surface in every conversation with organisations is, ‘how do we help people discover their mojo and tap into their potential?’

While this may have been a question people asked of every programme or initiative they participated even before the pandemic, there was no compelling urgency in people to discover their potential in haste.

Discovering purpose

Today, people are less willing to wait it out and are keen to find out what their purpose in life is and how they can go about fulfilling it.

When dialoguing this need with several working persons, particularly heads of a few organisations, some explained this conundrum using Simon Sinek's model of ‘Why, What and How’ and a few others using the Japanese concept of Ikigai.

Simon Sinek, through his model of the 'Golden Circle', tells us that both people and organisations may know ‘WHAT they do?’ and ‘HOW they do?’ Yet most of them do not know ‘WHY they do what they do?’Hence without understanding the purpose of ‘why’ they are doing what they are doing or how they are doing, members of the organisation lose interest quickly and disengage.

The fallout for families and organisations being affected directly or even indirectly by Covid, has jettisoned the desire to look far into the future and instead is making people ask ,“How do I discover my purpose in life now?”

The Japanese model of Ikigai may have some answers for those of us who want fulfilment quicker than what it took for one to understand and attain even two years ago.

Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, who fleshed out the concept in great detail confirm that, Ikigai means ‘the reason for being; referring to something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason to live and work’.

If each of us can discover our Ikigai, then perhaps what is now merely potential in us will become kinetic and manifest.

If each of us can discover our Ikigai, then perhaps what is now merely potential in us will become kinetic and manifest.

Four questions

Ikigai asks us to answer four questions, each of which will give us some clarity and the combined answers will clear up ‘What is our mojo and how we can tap into our potential?’

The questions are:

1. What do I love doing?

2. What am I good at?

3. What will I be paid for?

4. What does the world need?

If the responses are captured in a Venn diagram, each question being answered in a circle and the circles intersecting, where the circles to responses question 1 and 2 meet will disclose one's ‘passion’; where the circles with responses to 2 and 3 meet will reveal the ‘profession’ ideally suited for an individual; where the circles contain responses to question 3 and 4 intersect will indicate the ‘vocation’ one can pursue and where the circles with responses to question 4 and 1 intersect will establish one's preferred ‘mission’ in life.

If individuals and persons are helped to crystallise and concretise these four aspects of their lives and thus find their raison d'être, engaging people gainfully with mutuality will be less arduous and more enabling.

In the current context where individuals are being whirled around by uncertainty, if each of us can discover our Ikigai, then perhaps what is now merely potential in us will become kinetic and manifest.

(The writer is a visiting professor at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai and is an organisational and behavioural consultant.)

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