The IKIGAI Method, the Shinkansen effect

What is the Shinkansen effect?

We will learn from Japanese culture, understanding what the following concepts refer to: Ikigai method, Shinkansen effect and Ganbarimasu.

The end of 2020, a complicated, different year, which has affected many companies that have had to join forces and resources to adapt to the circumstances caused by the COVID-19. The year ends and we always start the new one with the hope of creating purposes, innovative projects to change and make our businesses grow, in short, to transform ourselves.

What is the Shinkansen effect and how does it affect the business world?

It shows that if a complete transformation is to be achieved, not just small adjustments can be made, but a profound change is needed.

The cocktail that forms the Shinkansen and ikigai effect can be summed up in the expression ganbarimasu. The word ganbarimasu is at the origin of the expression ganbattekudasai, which means “do your best”, but whose more literal translation would be “be stubborn and firm until you achieve what you set out to do”. In other words, to achieve a goal you have to make the maximum effort.

What is the Ikigai method?

Ikigai method is a Japanese term used to identify what motivates you to start a day. For the Japanese, this concept is very broad and has been applied in their culture for many centuries. It can be summarised as the purpose of that energy that drives a person to get up in the morning.

It does not have a precise translation into Spanish, but its meaning is something like what it is worth living for. According to the Japanese, all people have one or several deep desires and motivations.

The origin of this terminology is on a small Japanese island, Okinawa, where the world’s oldest inhabitants reside. Their secret is to live with passion and intensity, setting firm daily goals. They follow the saying “if you do a job that you really love, it won’t be work, but enjoyment”. – by Confucius.

Ikigai Method: key to personal and professional development

This is a perfect formula for talent to develop. Only if you are clear about where you want to go, you will be able to choose how to use it and develop it.

Whatever purpose a person has, it will have a direct impact on various aspects of his happiness. Frustration often stems from not acting on a set of principles and values. With purpose, a person can focus on what they want to do in their professional life as well as in their personal life.

A study by the Harvard Business Review manages to show that when workers are connected with their purpose and the organisation, their motivation increases exponentially.

If your employees have a lack of motivation, you may also be interested in our training courses in Motivation, Self-motivation or Team Management.

What is the cost of not doing so?

  • Talents can be wasted. If you do not act on purpose, you will not use your talent efficiently.
  • You will work individually and not as a team. An organization that does not have a visible and clear objective for its employees will make them work in a selfish and particular way, because they will not be recognized as part of a more important whole.
  • Motivation will increase considerably. If you don’t have a goal, people will not recognise the real impact of their work and that will discourage them. When you work with the knowledge of why you are doing it, it improves your commitment to achieving the goals of the company.

How to implement a talent management and development strategy?

  • Identify passions. When a person knows what they like, they can recognise their purpose. With a clear goal it is easier to do so in a way that is aligned with the passions.
  • Confirm values. Values represent a person’s roots. If they are present, they will help one walk towards one’s true purpose.
  • The results give satisfaction and make it easier to take the desired path in a career, setting out strategies to achieve it.
  • Bring together individual and team goals. If everyone’s goals are in harmony with the organization, the personal impact is greater. Redefine individual goals and their importance to the overall objective.
  • Behaviors in line with the purpose are rewarded. Key performance indicators should not only reward tactical objectives, but also pay attention to strategic purposes that are resolved over the long term.
  • Explain success within a team and redefine yourself as a team with a common goal

Venn Diagram

The traditional representation of the Japanese ikigai is with a Venn diagram. This image is drawn using a system of circles that are cut out from each other and describe the four basic components of the ikigai.

  1. What you like to do: what you love

In the nineteenth century, work was understood as resignation and something that had to be done. There was no question about whether the task was enjoyable or not. But throughout the 20th century, this orientation began to change and students were able to choose, based on their interests, different careers. In the 21st century, the labour market is presented as something vocational and people choose what they want to be trained in.

By establishing the following two secant circles that cut across the first one, these two elements are placed:

  1. What I am good at

There are some activities that some people can do naturally or because they have a wide experience. Some people have an innate talent for business and others have needed to undertake several times to achieve their goal. The group defined between the first circle and this one, the ikigai refers to as passion.

  1. What a person is willing to pay for

A circle secant to the two previous circles will include a person’s hobbies. For example, synopsis writing may appear here, as reading is a hobby of many people and something they pay for. Therefore, in the space where circles two and three cross, the possible professions will appear.

The three concepts described so far, although they are related, do not necessarily coincide. In other words, it is possible to be insightful at work with a database, but this may be extremely boring for a professional. Therefore, once these three elements appear, a fourth pillar can still be added:

  1. What the world needs

The activity a person chooses must have a certain demand. Otherwise, even if one has extraordinary capacity, it will not bring any value. The ikigai closes the circle with the personal mission and vocation.

Is it posible to find the Ikigai?

The fact is that it is possible, but the complexity of finding it lies in the fact that it is necessary to strike a balance between the four pillars mentioned above, without forgetting that each of them also has its own complexity. Once this argument has been presented, a professional has different opportunities to develop personally and professionally. This is what the Japanese concept is all about: that people are happy and have a personal and professional life purpose.

The vast majority of people are at one or two of the key points described for the diagram above. When a person has a job, they are in what the world needs. Also, they are likely to be good at it. But liking it and enjoying it is more complex to achieve, although it can be done.

Current gamma techniques conceptually extend what is fun to areas that were previously not fun. This adds a new dimension to the ikigai method. Another alternative is to work with something that is enjoyable and motivating in a paid profession.

On the other hand, it is possible to broaden the scope in which a person is competent by training in that in which he or she is not too skilled. What is more complex is that a person’s work becomes a hobby for which they would be paid, although this is not impossible either.

IKIGAI method conclusions

In short, the ikigai, or having a purpose in life along with good social connections, is the key to a healthy and happy life with professional success.

  • Rrebuilding ourselves – Shinkansen effect
  • Trying our best – Ganbarimasuy
  • Finding our purpose in life – Ikigai

In Consulting C3 we have training courses which will help you to increase your motivation.

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