Which is the best kind of conversation?
Is it a conversation that makes us feel happy, one that deepens our relationships or a conversation that helps us learn more? For me, the most beautiful conversations are those that get better with time.
Conversations, while they happen at a certain point, have eternal life. Mostly, they stay with us as memories, either warm and pleasant, or difficult and inconvenient. But the most valuable dialogues don’t just remain static remembrances; they evolve with time. Their echo can be heard and felt long after their physical occurrence is over. Their impact grows, as we grow. In fact, our own understanding of their significance changes as we change. We continue to go back to them, even subconsciously; often basing many of our decisions on them.
A conversation that explores the true purpose of our life will always fall in this category.
This post is about one such conversation.
Sometime in 2018, I had already decided to leave my job and work on Joylogues full time. I used to spend a lot of my time sharing ideas with friends who I felt might be interested in the space. Most were immensely kind and seemed to understand my vision.
One of these friends is Jaiwardhan. He and I met when we were working for the same merchandising company in 2010 and we bonded over our thirst for learning. At the time, I didn’t think he had much going for him career-wise. The mundane routine of our office bored him and his work showed that. He was uninterested and hence, unproductive and unappreciated.
But he is a classic example of how following what you love can be your ticket to the moon!
His seeking mind and his love for reading – non quantifiable strengths and not ones that are considered in direct correlation to our career growth – mystically led him to an industry and a company that valued these traits. It would be an understatement to say that, since then, he’s been really kicking ass! Not only has he grown into this person who confidently owns his unique qualities, but he often spends his time unselfishly sharing the fruits of these qualities with people who need it. Today, he is at the cusp of another brilliant breakthrough in his career and at the moment, it seems so natural that I wonder how did we not see this coming ten years ago!
But that’s the beauty of following your true strengths, your true delights and the true direction of your heart. No matter how impossible it seems at the beginning, life will always get you to a point of prosperity and joy, that seems like it was tailormade just for you; only waiting for you to get there.
When I met Jai sometime last year, I was very excited to share abut Joylogues. As I waited for him to validate my ideas, he brushed everything aside, took out his pen, grabbed a napkin and drew a horribly untidy version of the following image.
He then asked me – What’s your Ikigai?
Ikigai, a Japanese concept, means the reason for one’s being, the reason for which we exist in this world and something that gets us out of bed every morning. The belief is that true happiness, prosperity and longevity lie in alignment with our Ikigai. When we awaken to it and make efforts to realise it – we instinctively move towards a life where we live in rhythm with our purpose and therefore, experience deep contentment and joy.
What Jai tried to explain to me during our conversation was that rather than worrying too much about the company or the strategy or marketing plans, I need to first spend time understanding my Ikigai and then, to see whether my plans correspond with it. The concept made sense to me instantly. I quickly searched and also got my copy of a book by the same name.
So moved I was with my conversation with Jai and with this philosophy, that for days, this is all I could talk about. I shared it further with friends and colleagues encouraging them and myself to move beyond our fears and search for our reason for being.
I realised that so many of us find ourselves saying –
I feel empty inside. I don’t know what I want out of life. I don’t know where my career is headed. I know I am not satisfied with what I have, but I don’t know how to even begin to make a change.
For anyone who can relate to these statements, I’ve learnt that it’s important to start by talking about it – talk to your friends, family, teachers, bosses – or anyone else who might be either feeling the same way or would’ve gone through the same tunnels in the past.
Also, working on your personal Ikigai diagram helps. A word of caution though – this is not going to be effortless. It took me days and weeks to figure out what I really wanted to write under each section, even though I knew, at least partly, where I wanted to be.
Ikigai is the sweet spot between,
- What you love
- What the world needs
- What you can be paid for
- What you are good at
And deciphering this sweet spot, though delicately simple, is not easy. But when was anything of value, ever easy to do! Please know that everyone without exception has Ikigai. We just sometimes lack the intent to pursue it.
The book very rightly says, “Our Ikigai is different for all of us, but one thing we have in common is that we are all searching for meaning”. The void we all feel is deep and it can be very unforgiving at times. And while finding our Ikigai might take time, I know that we can start to create meaning in our life, we can start the healing – the moment we start trying.