Discover this centuries-old key to clarifying your purpose

Purpose is talked about a lot. Most of the conversation surrounds the mojo purpose can bring to a brand. From attracting and energizing team members to inspiring prospects to join a movement to make a difference for the people and communities a brand serves.

As I was writing my book, I was excited about the emerging research and real-life examples that confirmed what I call the mutually catalytic power of purpose. In other words, how purpose can help a brand make a difference in the world while at the same time helping it grow and flourish. Purpose creates a virtuous cycle. The purpose fuels the prosperity. And the prosperity helps expand the purpose.

But among all the excitement about purpose was the noticeable lack of guidance on how to actually clarify a purpose.

Purpose is not a new concept. Today’s expressions of purpose trace their roots back centuries to a Japanese concept called Ikigai. Ikigai expresses a reason for being by looking at four factors:

When you define and align all four of these factors, you clarify your personal Ikigai. This serves as an invaluable framework for clarifying a purpose.

Ikigai has inspired other frameworks as well. You can see it in the Hedgehog Concept for businesses that asks three questions:

  • What are you deeply passionate about?
  • What can you be the best in the world at?
  • What drives you economic engine?

I have used the Ikigai structure to develop my own framework for clarifying your brand purpose. It asks these three questions:

  • What are you best at?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What difference could you make in the world?

Through investigation and structured discussions, this framework has served me well working with companies across a wide variety of industries.

When I think back to that time when I was developing a process to clarify a brand purpose, I remember what a revelation it was to discover the Ikigai concept. It felt like time-tested wisdom. The kind of wisdom we all need when developing something so foundational as our brand purpose.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations clarify their unique, undeniable, and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at https://www.dansalva.com on April 9, 2021.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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