Ikigai, Pleasure and Meaning

I’ve been drawn to the concept of Ikigai for some time. In September 2017 Ken Mogi published “The Little Book of Ikigai” and from such a short book full of wonderful stories I have taken so much. Making it ultra concise and also visual, I honour the talent of Dani Saveker and her Visual Synopsis of the book :

Ikigai Visual Synopsis Pleasure and Meaning

At the base of this visual synopsis are the five pillars of Ikigai, and I will come back to these often in upcoming posts, as I see them as powerful tools for self-knowledge, one of the pillars of #OpenLeadership.

For now, I focus on the combination of “starting small”, “joy of the little things” and “be in the here and now” as represented in the two examples of simplicity and perfection below.

There are many wonderful stories in the book, starting with the choice of Sukiyabashi Jiro as the restaurant for President Obama to eat in for his welcome dinner with the Prime Minister of Japan. The owner and operator, Jiro Ono, worked for over sixty years with an unrelenting focus on one thing, making the best sushi in the world. The documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” tells the story :

Now, back to London, where I often ride my bike out to Richmond Park. I love the feeling of being present to the moment that comes with cycling, particularly in nature and out of the city. In less than an hour, I can ride out of the centre of the city, make a lap of the park, and then I can make a stop at a special place.

That special place is Pen Ponds Cafe, a small trailer run by an Italian family and that makes excellent coffee, and probably the best bacon roll I’ve ever tasted. Given that I am on a lifelong quest for the simple pleasure of finding the best bacon roll ever, this is high praise. If you see me sitting at a bench in my cycling gear with my black coffee and bacon roll, know that I am truly appreciating every moment and every sensation.

I give you this photo from the other day at my latest visit and ask you to consider the parallels between Jiro and the master of the bacon rolls as he stands at his post 364 days per year, year after year…

bacon rolls

…in this modern world that we make so complex, what does it teach us to see someone at work taking pleasure and meaning from the perfection of one simple task?