Was it inspiration or cultural appropriation?
You may recognize the Venn diagram commonly associated with ikigai, but did this particular Venn diagram originate in Japan?
To explore the origins of this visual, join Nick in this episode of the Ikigai Podcast, as he speaks with Marc Winn, the creator of the Ikigai Venn Diagram.
- A blog post about ikigai. At 1:54, Marc talks about the blog post in which he discussed ikigai and shared the ikigai Venn diagram for the first time.
- Interest in ikigai. At 4:04, Marc discusses the origins of his interest in ikigai.
- “Meme seeding”. At 6:33, Marc talks about his follow-up blog post titled “Meme seeding”, in which he clarified that the Venn diagram does not capture the original Japanese connotation of ikigai.
- Marc’s ikigai. At 10:54, Marc talks about his project, the Dandelion Foundation, and shares what his ikigai is.
- 2020 vision. At 14:54, Marc talks about the meme about making Guernsey the best place to live in the world by 2020.
Marc Winn is a business coach, entrepreneur, and the creator of the ikigai Venn diagram. He is from the small island nation of Guernsey and is on a mission to make his community the best place to live on earth. He’s also the co-founder of the Dandelion Foundation, which seeks to use the small island nations as testbeds for solving many of the world’s toughest challenges.
A blog post about ikigaiIn 2014, Marc wrote a blog post about ikigai and introduced a diagram which he referred to as the Ikigai Venn Diagram. Marc's inspiration for this diagram stemmed from his interest in Dan Buettner's Blue Zones, which explore the secrets of the world's happiest places. Specifically, Dan's TED talk titled "How to live to be 100" mentioned the concept of ikigai.
Combining the ideas from Dan's work with the Purpose Venn Diagram, Marc conceived the idea of incorporating ikigai into the diagram. His primary focus was on the Western idea of purpose, which encompasses individuals pursuing what they love, what they’re good at, and what they get paid for.
Interest with ikigai
Marc acknowledges that he did not have an extensive understanding of Japanese culture when he developed his Ikigai diagram. Instead, he utilized the visual representation as a tool to effectively convey his thoughts and keep his contacts informed about his ideas.
The unexpected success of the blog post was remarkable, as it quickly spread and gained worldwide attention. Surprisingly, it only took Marc 45 minutes to write the post, yet its impact has been significant, even inspiring others to write books based on the ideas it presents.
Marc reveals that so many people asked him about the diagram that he followed up with a subsequent blog post titled “Meme seeding,” in which he pointed out that his version of ikigai does not reflect the original Japanese thinking about the concept. The experience enlightened him on the profound influence a single image can have, altering people's lives in various ways.
Marc emphasizes that he does not perceive the Ikigai diagram as his own creation since it combines the ideas of two other individuals. Instead, his contribution lies in having a moment of insight regarding the interconnectedness of these concepts, and subsequently crafting an image that enables others to grasp that connection.
Marc feels that the great interest shown in the diagram reveals how compelling people find it to look within themselves to reflect on their path and think about how they can contribute to society. He views the diagram as a form of art that aligns with his personal interest in inspiring individuals to ponder how they can make a significant impact with the smallest effort.
For me, it's become an art piece because a lot of my work is around what's the least you can do to make the biggest difference. - Marc Winn
Mark’s ikigai revolves around spending each day in ease with his family. He also co-founded the Dandelion Foundation, which is another source of his ikigai. His goal is to build a village that will change the world, and every day he is driven by the idea that he could help create a better village for kids to grow up in. He wants to be able to support others in his village so that his community can do the same with other communities.
2020 visionMarc launched the project “to make Guernsey the best place to live on earth by 2020,” which he says is a meme intended to nudge Guernsey residents towards the belief and understanding that they live in a great place, and to encourage them to get involved in improving it.
He suggests that if people are asked about what ‘the best place to live’ looks like, they should turn the query back to the questioner and ask, ‘What does it mean to you? How can you make that a reality?’ He shares that the meme has already had local effects and he believes that, years from now, these changes will also have a huge impact globally.
In his TED talk, Marc mentioned “prisons of our mind,” how people lock themselves in mental prisons and struggle to get out of them. He explains that in some ways, ease is great, but transmuting struggle into ease is where the magic of life occurs because, without difficulties, ease wouldn’t feel like ease.
In some ways, ease is great. But also, transmuting struggle into ease is where the of life occurs. We need to lighten the shade to understand the perspective. - Marc Winn
What does it take to make a huge impact? For Marc, it took him only 45 minutes to make something that greatly influenced the world; people got interested in ikigai and found a framework that helped them think about life purpose. The fascination with ikigai only goes to show that a lot of people are looking for ways to improve their lives.