Happiest Company

Ikigai: 4 Questions to Begin the Japanese Philosophy on Life Fulfillment

By Jessica Bubenheim, on 16 April 2021

According to Japanese culture, we all have an ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced ee-kee-guy), a 'path to life fulfilment'.  Japan is known for life practices that lead to longevity and people there have an average life expectancy of 83.7 years. Previous studies have shown Japanese longevity to be closely related to dietary practices. However, new studies on philosophy have shown the life fulfilment through Japanese ikigai as a key component to longevity.

Ikigai is made up of four different themes. Step by step your personal ikigai will crystallize. This is not possible right away and cannot happen under pressure. Nonetheless, with just 4 questions you too, can start your journey to find out your personal ikigai and begin your practice of this philosophy of life fulfillment.

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Ikigai 4 Questions to Begin the Japanese Philosophy on Life Fulfillment


Ikigai Meaning

Ikigai basically means 'reason for being' but it isn’t just another guide on ‘how to be happy’. The ultimate goal of Japanese Ikigai is more complex. It’s about a having a practice that guides you towards fulfillment. If you're looking for instant happiness, keep in mind that Japan is ranked merely 51 on the list of the world's happiest countries (UN-sponsored World Happiness Report 2017), so ikigai isn't a quick fix. Practicing ikigai menas defining your purpose, your personal mission, and discovering your full potential. The aim is to define what you can best contribute to the world, what you’re good at, and what you enjoy doing. Those who are actively working to discover their ikigai have shown higher self-esteem and a feeling their presence in the world is justified.

Psychologists explain why identifying our purpose in life can help us with overall satisfaction. They claim that if we are able to find our ikigai, everything will be easier and more pleasant because we'll be in sync our capabilities.


Where Are People Finding Their Ikigai?

There are people who feel that they can not find their gifts in life. Some find themselves living the reality of dragging themselves out of bed and to work. The feelings of drive and passion have become distant memories. People can often find it hard to reignite the spark, the feeling of engagement they once had.

Cyberclick's founder and CEO, David Tomas, explains where his passion for motivating his team to find life fulfillment came from in a recent interview, "Years ago one of my closest friends went through a long period of time where every Sunday evening, like clockwork, he would feel a terrible dread for the upcoming workweek. He was spending so much of his life being unhappy at work and on top of that he wasted Sunday evenings dreading the week to come. After witnessing this pattern, I started to ponder what made him feel this way and how companies could avoid the Sunday evening dread."

In the work place, one of the main findings of motivational research is that extrinsic motivation is unachievable. In other words, it is impossible to motivate other people. At least not to do things they are not already motivated to do. 

Japanese philosophy asks people to find their ikigai intrinsically. If you look back, you’ll likely remember that as a child you had a natural inclination towards something. However, when adulthood came, your natural orientation was influenced by socio-economic factors like what others were doing, what your parents believe you should be doing, what type of income you believed you needed for certain standards of living.


Questions to Rediscover Your Natural Orientation or Ikigai

Immersed in the blur of our everyday lives, detecting our strengths is not always easy. There are four questions which can help you find your path. If you write them down somewhere where you come across them regularly, you can use them as a compass, bringing you closer to your purpose. Whenever something new surfaces, just take the moment to jot it down. Let’s begin.

  • What is my element? Do you see yourself more as an extrovert or an introvert? Do you find yourself enjoying activities in groups or on your own? Sometimes it’s a mix, but be sure to write down the type of company you enjoy in various situations.
  • During what activities do I experience flow? When does your time fly? What it something you could spend hours actively doing? This is an activity you will feel fully engaged in and won’t be thinking about anything else while doing.
  • What do you find easy to do? Is there anything which you personally find easy that others seem to struggle with? Some people find organizing documents in a clear manner easy while others are great at understanding different viewpoints.
  • What did you like doing when you were a kid? This question helps establish the basis of your ikigai. Are your strengths intrapersonal, interpersonal, logical, physical (kinesthetic), linguistic, or maybe visual (spatial)?  


Four Components to Achieving Ikigai

Ikigai is the union of four fundamental components of life: passion, vocation, profession, and mission. In other words, where what you love and are good at meets what you can be valued and paid for because it is needed in the world. Ikigai is only complete if the goal implies service to the community. Once you’ve identified these components, the next step is to start following your compass. Start working on your questions and see what your answers you discover.

 Ikigai 4 Questions to Begin the Japanese Philosophy on Life Fulfillment


Cyberclick Practices and Life Fulfillment

The pursuit of fulfillment has been the ultimate goal of human beings since the beginning of time. We seek practices that bring us fulfillment and this is just as necessary within Cyberclick as it is in our personal lives. Japanese philosophy shows that 'ikigai' is an all encompassing practice.

We spend a great deal of our time at work and it can be hard to feel fulfilled if every morning we have to make a superhuman effort to get out of bed and make our way to a place where we do not feel valued. People's wellbeing should always be a priority in any organization. Though this may sound naïve, the truth is that if you take care of your employees, your results will soar. From a financial viewpoint, investing in your team's intrinsic motivation or ikigai will increase your ROI.

Recently, David Tomás published his first book, named “The happiest company in the world”, where he reflects on the organizational culture that we have developed over the years here at Cyberclick and the keys which have allowed us to win the award for Best Workplaces in Spain two years consecutively.

These keys are easy to put into practice and are based on experience.

  • Do what you do best
  • Know how to say No
  • Take care of your energy
  • Practice continuous personal development 
  • Stop and decide to do something fulfilling
  • Align your personal values with those of your company
  • Simplify, don’t make things difficult
  • Love the 'Why' of your company
  • Trust others

Life Fulfillment and Great Place to Work

While looking into the idea of fulfillment in the workplace, one often will come across the organization Great Place to Work®. After millions of surveys and years of extensive research, this organization has come to the conclusion that there are three important factors that need to exist in a good workplace: 

  • Trust between coworkers and leaders.
  • Pride in the role you preform.
  • Camaraderie in the workplace.

Trust is the first place you have to start. It’s the glue to any company if you want to improve and grow. Trust is dependent on the relationship between the employee and the company. The results of obtaining trust in your workplace are innumerable. Employees are more comfortable in their environment, rely on one another for support, feel valued, and are much more confident in voicing their opinions and ideas. 

Pride and camaraderie are more difficult to define and obtain. These two values are different in that they depend on each individual person's character and needs. They are reliant on the relationship between the employee and his or her job (pride) and the relationship between the employee and his or her coworkers (camaraderie). What each person needs to be proud of their job is personal and unique and it’s crucial to ensure that everyone is in a role that satisfies their goals. The quality of relationships between coworkers depends on the personalities and different preferences each person has as well as the ability of the team to match them. Pride and camaraderie can be related back to the concept by ikigai when you think about appreciating others for their personal reason for being whilst valuing yourself for yours. This will create a harmonious work environment composed of successful individuals. 


Going from Great Place to Work to Fulfilling Place to Work

In order to be a  company of fulfilled individuals, you have to first be a great place to work that focuses on the three factors listed previously; trust, pride, and camaraderie. The way to become a fulfilling place to work is quite similar to the way you become a fulfilled individual. You can’t focus on the fulfillment itself. You have to dedicate yourself to your passions and to having a balanced lifestyle. It is a process specific to the individual as well as the workplace. This process needs certain tools such as the time and space to discuss the 4 questions of ikigai, trust, support, and clear communication.

Saying that you have the most fulfilling workplace in the world is the same as saying you are the most fulfilled person in the world. This could be true, but it’s specific and unique to you. If another person were in your shoes living your life they wouldn’t necessarily feel the same way. To have the most fulfilling workplace in the world relies on aligning your team's personal reasons for being and their processes of getting there. Each employee needs to be in a role with daily tasks that are aligned with their own personal and professional purpose, which results in greater life fulfillment. By aligning individual ikigais with workplace goals, you are following the process to create a a fulfilling organization.

The goal of becoming the most fulfilling workplace in the world is well worth pursuing. If more organizations would stop and ask how they could collectively become better, the number of people suffering from anxiety and stress would decrease while the level of collective fulfillment would inevitably increase.


Get to Know Cyberclick through Estela Viñarás

To give a 360º view of how current employees view Cyberclick from within, we have recovered a recent interview with our partner Estela Viñarás (Client Relations). Get to know Cyberclick through this extract from the interview on digital medium PRNoticias

What services does the agency focus on?
In Cyberclick we have specialized in providing services in the digital marketing field, through strategies aimed at attracting traffic results.
Each of the companies in the group have developed their full expertise in specific channels, some examples are SEM, Inbound Marketing, Email Marketing, Social and Content Ads.
What is your differential value and positioning now against other sector agencies engaged in similar aspects of marketing?
People and technology, but especially people. Any professional advanced training sector could create a good campaign and manage it, but there's a big difference between an excellent profile and an average one. That excellence, for us, is at the maximum commitment to results and the ability to offer customers a unique collaboration experience.
To achieve this, it is essential to measure the wellbeing and happiness of all team members. We are a happy team and this is reflected in the way we work and interact day to day.
Could you tell us one strength and one weakness where we Could improve Spanish marketing?
Marketing companies are innovative, enthusiastic teams with high performance.
As for a weakness, we continue to see a lack of analytical insight, the ability to identify and track appropriate KPI's. Having a good model of attribution is fundamental and here there is still a long way to go.
What is an aspect or campaign that you could boast about?
Achieving the objectives (and over delivering if we can) is what we are most proud of, and of course seeing that the customer is satisfied in every way and sees us as partners and allies in achieving the results they require.
An example of a multichannel campaign where our tema's great work  is clear is Renfe-SNCF Cooperation, a company for which we drive actions in social profiles, capture email marketing, social ads and content ads. Specifically html's for email marketing have achieved very high rates of conversion, and this has been highly profitable for the project by growing a database of clients and visits to the site and blog.
What is an example from the competition that you admire?
Although not our direct competition, something that caught my attention was the development of the App "Subaru Ski" by Hello Media Group, which won the award for Best Mobile Marketing Campaign at the Digital Awards in 2015. This application helps smartphones know what weather is expected, the quality of the snow and skiing conditions at your favorite ski station.
On the other hand, what would you like to improve in the new year?
We are focusing on a solution that manages advertising on Twitter (Twitter Ads) programmatically based on decisions in real time and artificial intelligence algorithms. The aim is to maximize the return on investment of Twitter advertisers and impact the most relevant users.
We are also deepening Native Advertising (Content Ads), a channel that is gaining more and more strength online and which is based on creating quality content for users, avoiding the classic ads.
Who are some clients that are in your portfolio now?
Today we work with Securitas Direct, Iberia, Jazztel, Renfe-SNCF Cooperation, NH Hotels, DKV, Switzerland Tourism.
What professional profiles are sought in this agency?
The profiles sought are those that traditional companies look for. We create multidisciplinary teams composed of, among others, mathematicians, engineers, advertisers, journalists, and professionals from all over the world in the company. In everyone there should be two personal values present: the ability to ask questions constantly and admiring other members of the team would be two of the most important aspects.
What have you put the most effort into this year?
Just because our differential value is people, one of the great challenges  we have is finding the right people. This year we have chosen to grow, which is why we have invested great effort in carrying out successful selection processes.
What do you consider to have been the biggest achievement this year for your company?
The recognition of our clients. Their results have improved and we want to continue doing more on a larger scale. Some of them have even recommended us to other companies and this made us very proud and energized us to keep growing and improving.
Finally, what would you like to see in the sector of marketing and advertising for the new term?
There is a significant growth in digital commitment. According to the latest data from the IAB Europe, in 2014 European countries spent 30.7 billion on online advertising - up 11.8% over the previous year. Clearly, users have migrated and businesses are still halfway there. The field of marketing and advertising needs to bet strongly on the environment where most consumers are today.
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Jessica Bubenheim

International Business at Warwick Business School. Inspired by Social Entrepreneurs.