“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

Mark Twain

The longest journey is the one inward.

Dag Hammarskjold

Baby boomers are workaholics. Gen Xers strive for work-life balance. But the desire of the millennial is work-life integration.

If you’re going to spend the next five to ten years of your life investing your heart and soul, your blood, sweat, and tears into launching or growing a business, you better love what you’re doing!  

Loving your job doesn’t come by accident. You don’t just stumble across the perfect career or business. In fact, the average number of careers changes today is eleven! And the average millennial is changing jobs about every three years.

Whether you’re the boss or an employee, everyone is looking for joy and fulfillment in their work. Those that are truly successful, fulfilled, happy with what they are doing, and excited to get up in the morning, are those that have taken the time to really know themselves … and their team.

So where do you start?

STEP 1: Understand who you are, explore your personal identity.

When we started down the road to develop our courses, we were originally focused on the concept of purpose driven entrepreneurship.  The more we dug, the more we realized that personal purpose was bound up in our identity. We needed to understand who we were in order to discover our purpose for being.  Our search for identity lead to the discovery of a proven concept called “ikigai”.

Identity Driven Entrepreneurship

Ikigai is a Japanese word, roughly translated, meaning a “reason for being”encompassing joy, a sense of purpose and meaning, and a feeling of well-being. The word derives from iki, meaning life and kai, meaning the realization of hopes and expectations. Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.

The Identity Driven Entrepreneurship course takes students through a comprehensive personal assessment to discover their ikigai. They explore such things as attitude and outlook, gifts and talents, knowledge and skills, life experiences, and networks and relationships.  This information is then used to address the main questions in the ikigai graphic to identify the key drivers that get you out of bed in the morning. Work-life integration can be achieved when your ikigai is aligned with your purpose in business yielding the highest levels of engagement, productivity and job satisfaction.

STEP 2: Understand the identity of your team.

In most cases, work is a team sport. The best teams are made up of individuals who know each other really well. Similar to personal ikigai, teams should go through the same process to discover the ikigai makeup of the team.  Where do members align? Where are they different? Are there conflict points? How can this information be used to strengthen and build the team? It’s important to note that there should be a focus on understanding personal and team identity before working to define the business purpose for a startup. Work-life integration is achievable by knowing who you are first and then selecting a career or building a business that aligns with who you are individually and as a team.

Additional Considerations:

  • Less than 1% of the population understands their ikigai. How important is this information relative to starting or growing your business?
  • Where could conflict emerge relative to alignment issues between personal and team ikigai?
  • Which areas would be most critical to achieve alignment between personal and team ikigai?

Personal Identity: Who Am I?

Take a sneak peek at one of the lessons from the Identity Driven Entrepreneurship online course.

Experience the Identity Driven Entrepreneurship course.

Mike McCausland-Founder-CEO

Mike McCausland

Founder and CEO, Leadership Institute For Entrepreneurs