Not another Ikigai blog post…
When discussing the tradeoffs of turning elements of your passion into a practical career, I’d be remiss to leave out the most popular mental model on this subject. I’m referring to what we Westerners call “Ikigai” which is actually an international mash-up: the Japanese word for “reason to live,” fused with a Venn diagram created by the Spaniard, Andrés Zuzunaga, popularized by American Mark Winn.
My favorite version bends the 4 circle Venn diagram into a lotus flower configuration, so that what you love + what you can be paid for, and what you are good at + what the world needs, have their own unique sections.
As mentioned in yesterday’s atomic essay, I’ve been lucky enough to combine my love of music with a job that pays me money. I’m also getting better at being a product manager (though I have a long ways to go), so I’d put my star somewhere on the borderline between “good job” and “opportunity for service.”
And while I think the problems we’re solving are worthwhile for musicians, music supervisors, and record companies worldwide, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m doing what the world needs. Really wants? Sure…
What strikes me about looking at this version is that it exposes interesting pockets that seem worthwhile on their own. Pursuing a mission, making a contribution, or honing a profession seem like pretty awesome places to be when framed as: “getting to earn money while doing something you’re good at?” or “doing what you love that the world also needs?” It could be that you find the El Dorado career that checks all of these boxes, but more than likely, and perhaps even better, different aspects of your life will sprinkle across the diagram.
Caring for an elderly family member becomes your contribution, volunteering at a food-rescue non-profit (shoutout Farmlink 😊) your mission, and the jazz piano gigs on the side, your passion. Hopefully they add up to one super Ikigai.