Less stress, better health, greater happiness – ikigai

I love to be inspired.  One of the treats in leading the Diploma for Creative Producers and coaching is that I meet extraordinary people, and introduce me to new worlds. This week alone I have explored Portuguese classic novelists, reminded myself of John Blakey’s “inspirational and much needed book”(1) The Trusted Executive, refound and shared Stephen Corry’s inspiring book “Tribal Peoples of Tomorrow’s World”(2), and been introduced to Ikigai by Alice McGrath.

As part of her session for our new cohort of producers on their first day, Alice introduced us all to this graphic. It made us all “passionately curious” to quote Albert Einstein via Alice. It gave us room to explore four reasons for being. Understanding what it is we love to do, to be engaged in, to explore.  What the world needs at this time and how might we be able to serve the world, the community, the people we care about.  Understanding what we can be paid for, which could/should/must bring in sufficient to keep a roof over our head and food on our table. And finally to remind ourselves what we are good at, which may or may not be what we get paid for or what we love. 

There is a beauty in exploring the first set of intersections. If we are good at what we love, that can be our Passion. If the world needs what we love doing then that leads to a pretty necessary Mission. If people pay for what we are good at then that could rightly be called our Profession. And finally if we get paid to do what the world needs then that is often called a Vocation.

From here this simple image leads us deeper into understanding. We may have three intersections, but there is one missing element in our lives. For our aspirational Creative Producers starting out on this essential and much needed career, they have the intersection of Passion and Mission. They know how the world could be changed. They wish to do what they Love and they are good at what they do.  Now they need to move to a place where they have the 4th aspect of Ikigai. They deserve to be paid sufficiently to love doing what the world needs.

I had the pleasure of exploring this with producer Ellie Claughton later in the day and we both agreed we were blessed to have, at least a little, ikigai. We believe that we do have a Mission and a Passion to deliver what we love doing, and are reasonably good at it. We are blessed to be rewarded by being paid to do this work.

As a coach I will use this image for discussion with clients as we explore how they may be moving forward in their lives.

Personally I have now started to read “The Little Book of ikigai” by Ken Mogi (3) which introduces me to 5 pillars of ikigai – Starting small. Releasing yourself. Harmony and sustainability. The joy of little things. Being in the here and now.   As I dip into this book I am reminded of the pleasure I have had on my visits to Japan, and I hope I will be able to return soon, and continue to work with international creatives and projects there. Thank you Alice for introducing me to this concept.

Oh and for those who wonder about the Diploma in Creative Producing, we do also study budgeting, marketing, fundraising, the ecology of the sector, contract, copyright, team building, management tools, and the ways in which a new generation of creative beings can change the world old show at a time.

  • (1) Quote from Prof Nick Lee, Warwick Business School for John Blakey’s The Trusted Executive published by Kogan Page (2016)
  • (2) Tribal Peoples of Tomorrow’s World by Stephen Corry, Freeman Press (2016) which I first use as a reference for the StoryMusic project for the 2012 UK Olympics (never realised).
  • (3) The Little Book of Ikigai by Ken Mogi, Quercus Editions (2017)
  • The title for this blog is taken from The Times review of Ken Mogi’s book ‘Less stress, better health and greater happiness: it’s all about the Japanese life philosophy ikigai

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