Purpose and passion are the new “not-to-copy”
In a world where technology commoditises everything, purpose and passion are the new “not-to-copy”. Full alignment of culture with marketing as the only way to compete. Culture as the tool to increase your internal clock speed. Culture and shared values as the only platform for the future. Purpose as a way to become super-efficient. There is no flow without purpose. There is no micro-flow if you are not enjoying mundane tasks.
CSR is outdated
Which means that there are now a lot of books about “purpose” as the new black in business. For me, it started with “Exponential organisations“, but before that, I was already writing about social enterprise and “normal” enterprise merging into one. Always believed that CSR was an outdated concept, a bit like e-commerce. It should be a standard feature of the company.
Are you proud of what you are doing?
The increasing awareness of climate change and the need for sustainability is reinforcing that effect. Because business for the sake of money has put us in the mess we are in. Somebody will have to explain to the grandchildren what we did and why? That includes explaining to your grandchildren why you were working for the company you are currently working for, what you did to make a difference and how proud you are looking back on what you tried to achieve.
Hence “Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life”. Very similar to a lot of other books I have covered such as:
The keys to longevity are diet, exercise, finding a purpose in life (an ikigai), and forming strong social ties, having a broad circle of friends and good family relations. Our intuition and curiosity are very powerful internal compasses to help us connect with our ikigai.
The 10 rules
Here are the ten rules of ikigai and it summarises the book perfectly:
- Stay active; don’t retire.
- Take it slow. Being in a hurry is inversely proportional to the quality of life.
- Don’t fill your stomach.
- Surround yourself with good friends.
- Get in shape for your next birthday.
- Reconnect with nature.
- Give thanks.
- Live in the moment.
- Follow your ikigai. There is a passion inside you, a unique talent that gives meaning to your days and drives you to share the best of yourself until the very end.
The questions the book is asking are
- What is the meaning of your life?
- Is the point just to live longer, or should I seek a higher purpose?
- Why do some people know what they want and have a passion for life, while others languish in confusion?
The secrets from the book(in random order):
- Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms, is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
- Stress is bad for you. Antibodies react to stress the same way they react to pathogens, activating the proteins that trigger an immune response. Stress makes you sick.
- Treat everyone like a brother, even if you’ve never met them before
- A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell on the future.
- Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die.
- Keep your heart young, don’t let it grow old.
- Happiness is always determined by your heart.
- In feelings, it is best to be wealthy and generous.
- Walk rather than drive.
- A lot of sitting will age you. Your metabolism slows down 90 per cent after 30 minutes of sitting. The enzymes that move the bad fat from your arteries to your muscles, where it can get burned off, slow down. After two hours, good cholesterol drops 20 per cent. Just getting up for five minutes gets things going again.
- You need a reason for living.
- Teaching yourself to accept your emotions without trying to control them, since their feelings will change as a result of your actions.
- Keep a diary about your thoughts and feelings.
- We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
- Understand the power of flow. We have all felt our sense of time vanish when we lose ourselves in an activity we enjoy.
- Focus on simplicity and attention to detail.
- Become one with the object you are creating.
- Artists know how important it is to protect their space, control their environment, and be free of distractions if they want to flow with their ikigai.
- The ability to turn routine tasks into moments of micro-flow, into something we enjoy, is key to our being happy since we all have to do such tasks.
- Create instant mental vacations through meditation.
- We have sixty thousand thoughts every day. Make them happy thoughts.
- Create rituals The happiest people are not the ones who achieve the most. They are the ones who spend more time than others in a state of flow.
- Celebrate each day, together
- The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
- The secret to a long life is not to worry.
- Open your heart to people with a nice smile on your face. If you smile and open your heart, your grandchildren and everyone else will want to see you.
- Cultivate good habits.
- Nurture your friendships every day.
- Live an unhurried life.
- Focus on the here and now, and the impermanence of things.
- Be optimistic.
- Move. People who live longest are not the ones who do the most exercise but rather the ones who move the most. They don’t go to the gym or exercise intensely, but they almost never stop moving in the course of their daily routines.
- Go gardening. It involves daily low-intensity movement.
- Regularly practice Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi, Radio Taiso, or Shiatsu amongst other disciplines and seek to create harmony between a person’s body and mind so they can face the world with strength, joy, and serenity. They all combine a physical exercise with an awareness of our breath. These two components—movement and breath—help us to bring our consciousness in line with our body, instead of allowing our mind to be carried away by the sea of daily worries. Most of the time, we are just not aware enough of our breathing.
- Practice Stoicism and Buddhism. They are at their roots, methods for practising well-being.
- Know what you can control and what you cannot. Worrying about things that are beyond our control accomplishes nothing.
- Have a clear sense of what you can change and what you can’t, which in turn will allow you to resist giving in to negative emotions. It is not what happens to you, but how you react that matters.
- Love the present moment and those who surround us.
- Add variation to your life.
- Bet conservatively in certain areas and take many small risks in others.
- Realise that each setback is an opportunity for growth.
- Drink white tea (high concentration of polyphenols).
- Eat less to live longer. When you notice you’re almost full but could have a little more, just stop eating. The idea is to be still a little bit hungry when you finish. An alternative to following the 80 per cent rule on a daily basis is to fast for one or two days each week.
- Eat the rainbow and eat a wide variety of foods, especially vegetables. Variety seems to be key. Okinawans (a very healthy village in Japan, where people get very old) ate an average of eighteen different foods each day, a striking contrast to the nutritional poverty of our fast-food culture. Okinawans consume at least seven types of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. They rarely eat sugar, and if you do, make it cane sugar. They ate fish an average of three times per week.
- Okinawans drink more Sanpin-cha, which is a mix of green tea and jasmine flowers, than any other kind of tea.
- Shikuwasa is the citrus fruit par excellence of Okinawa, All citrus fruits—grapefruits, oranges, lemons—are high in nobiletin, but Okinawa’s shikuwasas have forty times as much as oranges.
- Go beyond resilience and cultivate anti-fragility.
There is nothing new in this book. It just shows a correlation between long lives and some very good habits.
The best lesson from the book is that if you don’t know what your ikigai is yet, your mission is to discover it. Finding purpose as your purpose. Nothing to lose, everything to win.