Tuesday, April 16, 2024
HomeMindfulnessGuides users towards finding their inner sense of direction.

Guides users towards finding their inner sense of direction.

As you are reading this, I’m assuming that a greener, fairer, thriving world is your desired destination but, if your experience is anything like mine, finding the route that will take us there is not always easy. Leading our teams and organisations towards this sustainable place requires a willingness to leave the well-trodden path behind and strike out in a new direction. It’s the ability to do this that makes us effective changemakers.

Traveler, there is no road, you make your own path as you walk.
Antonio Machado
But how to navigate unfamiliar territory and not lose our way? How do we know if our new direction is taking us where we want to go? The concept of an inner ‘moral compass’ is an old one but morals alone aren’t enough; what about values and knowledge? It got me wondering if there could be an inner ‘sustainability compass’ and what might it look like?

It turns out there is, or at least there is something very close to it, the Japanese concept of ikigai (pronounced “eye-ka-guy” ). In the culture of Okinawa, ikigai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”; a reason to enjoy life.Diagram from Forbes.com

Although this simple visual representation of what we should be doing with our lives long pre-dates our current concept of sustainability, if we place what we know about the state of our environment and society under the heading of ‘what the world needs’, it makes for a pretty good inner ‘sustainability compass’. What I particularly like is that everyone has their own unique ikigai shaped by the needs of the world where they are combined with their own unique nature.

What I also like is that the ikigai concept gives me a way to combine the scientific knowledge I work with on a daily basis with my own feelings and beliefs. As long as I stay in a place that combines what the world needs with what I’m good at, I know I’m heading in the right direction. Some things I do in this space I do to make a living and some I do simply because I love doing them.

I only came across the concept of ikigai recently but I’ve been using it a lot to organise my thinking and guide my work as a climate change leader in these tumultuous times. I’ve also been discussing it with other people and, from their responses, the concept seems to be a useful one for changemakers.

In my previous journal I talked about the transformative magic of getting rid of my mental ‘cultural clutter’; letting go of what I thought society wanted me to be and embracing my own unique nature. I have found combining this with what the world needs to be tremendously empowering. It enabled me to be bolder than I thought I was and catalyse changes I never previously thought were possible.



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