I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase, “I don’t live to work, I work to live.”
It says an awful lot about a person’s mindset, and it’s a dangerous one to have if you’re a business owner looking to grow! It’s generally a sign that the business has lost its purpose, become stagnant or unprofitable, but most concerning is that the you, the business owner has stopped doing what you love and you’re no longer having fun.
Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” The word “ikigai” is usually used to indicate the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile. The word translated to English roughly means “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.” (Taken directly from this Wikipedia page) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikigai
In an ideal world, your businesses and your role as a business owner, for that matter, are positively filling the spaces in the above diagram. You should be doing what you love in your role (notwithstanding the fact that as a business owner you are going to be doing plenty of things that you don’t love doing-but do them anyway), your product or service should fill a void of something that the world needs, what you offer has an impact (ideally a positive impact), that your business and your team are good at what you do or the product that you sell is something you’re “good at” and then ideally you get paid (well) for this.
But what if…. Along the way you’ve lost your passion and your purpose? You get paid, but you’ve become disconnected with how your product / services have an impact? What if you get paid, but the idea of going into work is akin to your parent’s tales of how they walked 50 miles in snow without shoes every day just to get to school? ie. It’s really hard! (Although we all know this tale somewhat fascicle, but that’s a blog for another time.) What if you’re not getting paid what you’re worth and you’re exhausted – or worse still you’ve stopped paying yourself so that you can keep your employees on?
What if, in my “unicorns and fairy-floss” view of the world (yes, this is my term, and I believe that we can have it all; fun, fulfilling and high performing businesses), what if work didn’t feel like work? We could actually argue that for the most successful people in the world work never really feels like work.
You know why don’t you?
It’s because the most successful people in life are involved in something that they’re passionate about. It’s simple really. You are going to be much more productive when you’re involved in anything that you care passionately about rather than doing a job simply for doing the job’s sake. It’s probably why you started your business in the first place… but somewhere along the lines… the lustre has gone off the new venture, and been replaced with paying (or mounting) debts, complaining team members, and not enough time to spend with the family.
But Shannyn, how do I reinvigorate my business when I’ve tried it all and it still hasn’t worked?
Simon Sinek has the answer (If you haven’t heard of Simon, you may have been living under a rock, or with my aforementioned unicorns, but this matters not.) He says this much better than I can “Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY, I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”
Let’s get back to why you started the business in the first place. I’m going to assume that you had a skill, product or service that you thought, “I can sell this, I can leave this secure job for the adventure of my own business.” Take a moment and go back to that time. What was it that kept you going, especially in the early days, when money was super-tight and the risk of failure was huge, but you bounced out of bed excited about the opportunity to see where the day’s adventure would take you?
It’s time to get back to your vision… get clear on what the motivation to start was, and where you’ve gone off track. Think deeply about the value that you provide to your customers. Really think about why anyone cares about what you do. What impact do you have on the lives of the people you serve or supply?
Have a think about the parts of your role that you love doing. Think about the parts you don’t love doing and that are draining your energy. Depending on the list, you may need to consider an outsourcing, delegation or restructure strategy, but at least you know where you stand! My only non-negotiable on this is that if you’re at the head of the table, you’re the leader and you don’t really get a choice in loving that. Let’s not sugar-coat it, it’s a tough gig, but you must lead the ship. As they say, the fish rots from the head.
Create space in your diary to strategically work on your business. It’s such a cliché, but one that we all know absolutely exists, time to work “on” the business not “in” the business. Look at what’s working, what’s not and start to devise a plan to get back on your pathway.
Too overwhelming? Get help!
Reconnect with your networks of people and mentors that you admire and aspire to be like. Get out and help by asking them about how they have navigated similar challenges, what strategies they have used to reconnect themselves to their core drivers.
Break it down; nothing is insurmountable, but everything is hard if we aren’t eating the elephant one bite at a time.
Going back to unicorns and fairy-floss, I truly believe it is possible to get the drive back, and have it all. Get focused on the elements of your ikigai that are no longer connecting and reignite that fire.
I live and breathe helping business owners get the clarity needed to continue going forward, and this is without a doubt my deep passion and purpose; I absolutely love what I do. If you want to have a chat about how I help business owners achieve their ikigai, with greater profits, an awesome team and a bit of fun along the way, get in touch.Tags: Business Passion Strategy teamwork