Ken Mogi on what makes the Ikigai Venn Diagram Wrong

As part of promoting his upcoming book, The Way of Nagomi, Ken Mogi touches on the western interpretation of ikigai, known by many as the Ikigai Venn Diagram.

Although he finds the diagram as a helpful tool for giving people motivation, Ken states some reasons why this diagram is completely wrong and that people shouldn't take it seriously, as it is misleading people from the authentic definition of ikigai.

So welcome to episode two of this talk about my upcoming book, The Way of Nagomi to be published in April 2022. Today I would like to discuss ikigai. As I said in the first episode, this book was actually evaluated as a stroke of genius by my good agent H, so, please expect great things from this book.

But anyway, in this book, although this is not a sequel to my book on ikigai, I did discuss ikigai and especially this famous ikigai diagram. Now, this diagram is not Japanese in origin. As a Japanese, of course, I have been exposed to this concept of ikigai over many, many years. And I have been discussing ikigai in daily lives in a casual manner: that ikigai is something that is common in the Japanese culture.

Although, as I wrote in the book, my Little Book of Ikigai and Awakening Your Ikigai, we do not actually think so explicitly about ikigai because it's like the air we breathe. In Japan, we are aware of this concept of ikigai from childhood. And we don't actually discuss ikigai in expressed, rule-based, algorithmic ways.

But anyway, having said that, this diagram is very strange, to say the least, because, I'm saying that this is useful. Of course, for the western readership, probably this diagram is useful in structuring what motivates you and what gives you pleasure, and so on. But this diagram is very strange because it defines ikigai as the intersection of all these things, what you love, what the world needs and what you can be paid for, and what you are good at, and ikigai is defined as the intersection of all these things.

That would be great if you can do something that satisfies all these requirements. But that is too narrow of a definition for ikigai. Because if you believe in this diagram, then what you love, but for what you cannot be paid for, for example, your hobby, is not ikigai, right? That's really rubbish. Maybe I shouldn't have said that word. But I would say again, it's rubbish.

Even if you're not paid for something you do, for example, if you love to paint a picture, and you're not paid for that, that is ikigai, of course, that is ikigai. For example, if you are not good at something, I mean, for example, if you might want to play musical instruments, and you might not play well, but that can also be your ikigai. Of course, it can be your ikigai.

So, no matter whether you are good at something, or no matter whether what you do is needed by society. Well, whatever you might do, might be paid for or not. That is your ikigai. And so out of this diagram, the only condition would be this: what you love. This is absolutely necessary condition for ikigai. Of course, you've got to love what you do in order for it to be your ikigai, of course, you need to love it, but otherwise, all these conditions are superfluous.

They are non-essential, and then nonsensical from the Japanese point of view. You know, in Japan, for example, Japan is a country famous for its Karaoke culture, right? I mean, when you sing karaoke, and you sing very badly, of course, it's not what the world needs, it's not what you're good at, and it's not what you're paid for. But that can be your ikigai too. Of course, singing karaoke very badly can be your ikigai.

So, this particular example would establish, without doubt, I hope in your mind that this diagram is rubbish. It doesn't have anything to do with the essence of ikigai. Ikigai is all of these things, and in particular, ikigai is what you love, no matter what the social symptoms or what other people think about it, and whether you are good at it or not.

Ikigai is a really wide spectrum of things that you love to do; you enjoy doing. And it's something private. Of course, it can be something public, it can be something vocational. But you know, it can be your really personal hobby -- and that is your ikigai. That's the beauty of this Japanese concept, ikigai.

So if you're interested, please read my previous book: The Little Book of Ikigai and Awakening Your Ikigai. I think you will be really able to appreciate what ikigai is and use it in your life in a useful way. But at the same time, please wait and read my update on the concept of ikigai, referring to this diagram in my forthcoming book, The Way of Nagomi, in which I discuss the update to this ikigai diagram. But at the same time, it's many other things.

You know, Nagomi is something that is even broader than ikigai. Actually, Nagomi is conceptually the mother of all the important concepts coming from Japan, like mono no aware, kintsugi, and of course, ikigai. So Nagomi is a very fundamental and important concept in Japanese culture, and I do hope you would enjoy reading The Way of Nagomi.

In particular, I hope you will be able to update your ideas about ikigai. As I said, this diagram is useful in some contexts, and it will be useful in the western context, in particular, but ultimately, it's completely wrong. You shouldn't really take this diagram seriously. Although I am thankful for anybody who has conceived of this diagram. I think it was, well, a job well done. But it's something that can also be misinformation or disinformation even for people who are interested in ikigai.

So that's from Ken Mogi, and please refer to The Way of Nagomi, by the way, inside of this is Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg by Richard Wagner. It has nothing to do with it. Yeah. Actually, yeah, it has something to do with ikigai because listening to von Nurnberg is one of my ikigai.

So thank you for listening to my clumsy talk. There will be more updates to this forthcoming book, The Way of Nagomi, and also there'll be tonnes of interesting materials broadcast on this channel, so please do subscribe to this channel. Thank you