“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain
The Purpose Venn diagram is a powerful tool for infusing your work with meaning by aligning your purpose and passion.
However, it’s often confused with the popular Ikigai Venn diagram, which serves a broader purpose in helping you find what makes life worth living beyond just work.
The popular Ikigai Venn diagram, popularized by Marc Winn, is actually a misinterpretation of the Purpose Venn diagram by Andres Zuzunaga.
In this article, I’ll walk through the Purpose Venn diagram, the mix up, and the actual way to visualize ikigai according to Nicholas Kemp, so that you can use these tools properly and with the right perspective.
Don’t Mix Up Ikigai with the Purpose Venn Diagram
If you mix up ikigai with the Purpose Venn diagram, then you miss out on how ikigai can help you.
Ikigai is really a tool to help you find what makes life worth living and a reason to wake up in the morning.
Ikigai goes beyond work.
You can find sources of ikigai in small things, outside the scope of work or what you are paid for.
That’s powerful stuff.
Meanwhile, the Purpose Venn diagram can help you make work more meaningful and with your purpose and passion.
And that’s powerful stuff, too.
Purpose Venn Diagram
This is a simple Purpose Venn Diagram to help you find your purpose:
It’s an English-translation version of the Purpose Venn Diagram that was created by Andres Zuzunaga in Spanish.
It’s a simple tool that helps you find your purpose based on the intersection of four questions:
- What do you love?
- What does the world need?
- What can you be paid for?
- What are you good at?
Another variation would be to simply turn the diagram into the 4 questions:
Why Put Purpose at the Center of the Diagram?
The problem is people often confuse variations of this diagram with Ikigai.
One mistake people make is to put “ikigai” at the center of the diagram.
This confuses learning about ikigai.
And it mixes up ikigai with your work or profession.
If you put “purpose” at the center of the diagram, then you align with the original creator and the original intent.
And you then make space in your mind to learn about ikigai.
To be more effective at working through your purpose, you’ll want to be able to use both the Purpose Venn Diagram, as well as ikigai.
The Popular Ikigai Venn Diagram (Note This is NOT Ikigai)
You might have seen this popular image of the Ikigai Venn diagram:
But it’s not actually Ikigai.
This is the Ikigai Venn diagram created by Marc Winn in his 2014 blog post, “What is Your Ikigai?”.
As Marc put it:
“Having spent most of the last few years helping dozens and dozens of entrepreneurs find their ikigai, whilst also searching for my own, I can now visualize where it belongs.”
But this version is actually a misinterpretation of an earlier diagram by Andres Zuzunaga (below).
In the book, Ikigai-Kan: Feel a Life Worth Living, Nicholas Kemp shares how this version of the Ikigai Venn diagram came about.
“The visualization was his own interpretation of the ikigai concept–and does not originate in Japan or capture the Japanese ethos.
However, Marc did get it right when stating that ikiga is a ‘reason to get up in the morning’ and a ‘reason to enjoy life’– and this message has undoubtedly had positive impacts on the many people who have enjoyed his blog post and reflect on his diagram.
On my podcast, Marc kindly explained his creation process:
‘…obviously, I didn’t know too much about [ikigai] other than from that one TED Talk. A lot of people say, why don’t you do a book or why don’t you do this, why don’t you make something of it?’, and things like that.
I said, ‘It’s artistry for me is in that I didn’t really think much about it. It was only 45 minutes of my life, and it still grows exponentially, and people write books on it.'”
Zuzunaga Purpose Venn Diagram
This is the original Purpose Venn diagram by Andres Zuzunaga:
As you can see, it’s in Spanish. And, as you can also see, the center of the diagram is Purpose.
In the book, Ikigai-Kan: Feel a Life Worth Living, Nicholas Kemp shares how the story of how Andres Zuzunaga created his Purpose Venn diagram.
“First published in Borja Vilaseca’s 2012 book Que Harias Si No Tuvieras Miedo (What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?), the visualization is the work of Spanish Astrologer Andres Zuzunaga, who posted it on his Facebook page on June 4th 2012 as ‘proposito’ (purpose)–a name derived from the word used to indicate the convergence of the four main themes.
When I interviewed Andres Zuzunaga on my podcast, he described how his Venn diagram came to him, but not from him. He explained how it was inspired by natal charts and the questions his clients would ask him during astrology consultations.
At the time the diagram was created, Andres was meditating regularly and contemplating purpose.
He found himself waking up in the mornings with insights and creative ideas; one of these was the seed of the Venn diagram.”
How Purpose Became Replaced with Ikigai
So, how exactly did ikigia end up in the center of the diagram when Andres Zuzunaga’s version has “purpose” at the center?
In the book, Ikigai-Kan: Feel a Life Worth Living, Nicholas Kemp shares how the story of how “purpose” got replaced with “ikigai” in the English-translation version of Andres Zuzunaga’s diagram.
“Although this story explains the origin of the Venn diagram, it doesn’t address how ‘purpose’ became replaced with ‘ikigai’.
For this revision, we can both thank and blame self-proclaimed mischief-maker and lover of changing the world, Marc Winn.
In 2014, nearly two years after Zuzunaga shared his diagram with the world, Marc incorporated a modified English-language translation of it in an inspiring blog post titled ‘What is your ikigai?’.
He wrote the post after watching Dan Buettner’s TED Talk, which inspired him to replace ‘purpose’ with ‘ikigia’ in the accompanying graphic.”
The Kamiya Ikigai Framework (The Kamiya Flower)
So, how do you actually visualize ikigia then, if the other diagrams are not ikigai?
Nicholas Kemp created a simple framework for the 8 needs of Ikigai that he shares on the back of his book, Ikigai-Kan: Feel a Life Worth Living, in a diagram.
Nick calls his framework, the Kamiya Ikigai Framework (The Kamiya Flower).
It’s based on the 7 needs that Mieko Kamiya determined we need to satisfy, in order to feel Ikigai:
- life satisfaction
- change and growth
- a bright future
- meaning and value
Nick added “a sense of purpose” as an eighth need.
For a deeper dive on ikigai, see Ikigai: Japanese Concept to Inspire Joy in Life.
Explore Your Purpose with the Purpose Venn Diagram and Ikigai
You will be far ahead of the pack if you master these tools of purpose.
The Purpose Venn diagram will help you find deeper meaning and purpose in your work, aligned with your life.
You can explore this intersection through the 4 questions in the Purpose Venn.
Separately, you can learn more about ikigai to explore what makes life worth living and finding your joy, even in the little things, and not mixing it up with things you need to be paid for, and beyond the arena of work.
You can explore the 8 needs of ikigai to begin the journey within.
Get the Book
I’ve read a few books on Ikigai, but I find that Nick’s book is especially enlightening. He goes back through the history in a pragmatic way, and also shares a bit of Japanese concepts and culture that he learned along his adventures.
I find that Nick focuses on both accuracy and precisions so the information he shares has added depth and insight.
Ikigai-Kan: Feel a Life Worth Living by Nicholas Kemp
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