Why Ikigai Won't Save You As A Leader - What It Fails To Address That Is Essential In Today's World

Why Ikigai Won't Save You As A Leader - What It Fails To Address That Is Essential In Today's World

I saw a Post earlier today that said, "Using Ikigai to Become Ultraproductive".

It had an intriguing popping graphic, so I looked closer at it.

Now, I will say that I have Loved the Concept of Ikigai ever since I first learned about it.

If you don't know what it is, let me explain.

It is a Japanese word and concept that doesn't exactly have a direct translation, but means something similar to "A Reason for Being".

The concept follows very similarly to other phrases like Joseph Campbell's "Follow Your Bliss" or the adage "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life."

However, Ikigai becomes a bit more specific as it refers to an intersection between 4 Categories.

  • What You Are Good At

  • What You Love Doing

  • What The World Needs

  • What You Can Be Paid For

If what you are doing can fit into all four of these Categories, then you have found Ikigai!

Now, this Model has Many Benefits.

Work definitely becomes easier if You are both Good at it and You Love Doing It.

If the World Needs It, then there is Impact which is desperately needed today.

Impact drives Value and feelings of Contributing to something Larger, which can Unite People from all walks of Life.

Plus, even if it is Something Needed, you Love Doing and are Great At it, But you Aren't Getting Paid... It makes it "Very" Difficult to Sustain Your Life and Continue Doing It.

All of these can be Greatly Beneficial for Leaders.

It can drive Passion, give Teams a Mission, and even Create Career Paths.

When used Correctly, it has the Potential to Increase Productivity, and under the Right Circumstances "May" Create "Ultraproductivity".

However, there is an Extreme Roadblock in the Way that Ikigai Completely Fails to Account for.

What makes this Worse for Leaders is that this Roadblock is "the" Major Issue they are Facing Today.

What is the Roadblock?

Human Psychophysiology.

Now, Ikigai is addressing certain Aspects of Psychology, but our Brains are only a Piece of our Success.

The Reality is that most people's Brains are Undermined by other Aspects of their Psychophysiology.

See, if you want to get to "Ultraproductivity", there is really only One Psychophysiological State of Being we are interested in.

Flow States.

In Flow, we are "at least" 5 Times More Productive...

But that Research was done before Today's Problems, meaning most people would likely be "More" Productive Today.

Now, Aspects of Ikigai "Are" Flow Triggers, meaning that they can Help us get into Flow, which is Amazing!

Loving our work drives Focus.

Being Good At Something drives the Challenge-Skill Ratio and Autonomy.

Gaining Income Reduces Cognitive Load.

Doing something the World Needs can drive Passion and Purpose.

Plus, when you do Work You Love, it often Drives Curiosity.

But the Problem is that there are Conditions that must be met to even "Get" to a Flow State.

The Flow Triggers that can be used through Ikigai are useless if the Preconditions are not met.

The Essential Preconditions to Get to Flow States?

Having Enough Energy (Mg-ATP) and Low Allostatic Load (Total Stressors Experienced Simultaneously).

See, Flow States are High Energy (Mg-ATP) States, and if you Do Not have Enough, You'll Never "Get" to Flow.

Plus, to Get to Flow, you must go through a part of the Flow Cycle called "Struggle".

You Must Add a bit of Stressor with what you are Doing before Flow can be Unlocked.

However, if you have Too Many Simultaneous Stressors, then Adding "Any" Stressor only becomes Problematic.

Basically, You're "Too" Stressed to get to Flow States, or are in Dis-Stress.

You could Love the Work You Do with all of your Being.

You could be the Absolute Best there Is at it.

The Work Could Be Essential to the World.

Plus, you could be Paid an Infinite Amount of Money.

But all of that is Useless if you Do Not have the Energy or are Too Stressed to get into Flow.

Your Productivity Will "Always" be Hindered without Enough Energy, and if you are in Dis-Stress.

This Problem becomes even More Relevant when you look at the Largest Problem in Business today.


Burnout is essentially when your Allostatic Load (Total Stressors) has been Too High for Too Long, and your body begins to "Literally" Tear Itself Apart.

Currently, 80% of the Work Population is going through forms of Burnout, with More on the Way.

The State of Burnout actually is a Double Whammy to Flow States, because Burnout is Not Only Having Too Many Stressors but It "Also" Decimates Energy Creation.

Researchers have even gone so far as to say that Burnout and Flow States are Opposites when it comes to Productivity.

This means that Ikigai becomes Useless in the Face of Burnout.

This is Why Ikigai cannot save you as a Leader.

As Amazing as the Concept of Ikigai is, and Despite the Benefits it Can Provide, they Can't Help until Burnout is Fixed First.

Again, Ikigai is a Spectacular Tool to Utilize in the Proper Place and Time.

But in Today's World, Burnout must be Addressed First to make Ikigai Relevant in the Workplace.

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