While the world was suffering its worst humanitarian crisis, slowing down to navigate unknown charters, I personally slowed down after working for insane hours for 18 months. It was an attempt to introspect, recharge, and restart. Revisiting my visit to Japan and experiencing Ikigai - a Japanese concept referring to something that gives a person a sense of purpose, a reason for living.
During my first trip to Tokyo, Japan, back in December 2019, the world was not crippled by the pandemic scare.
The Japanese are perfectionists and pioneers in innovation, in both technology and art. Their dedication towards their craft is motivating. As I tasted the best ramen, curry rice, umeshu and gyoza, I observed the action behind the counter, the clockwork and attention to detail of every cook and helper.
While serving each plate of food, I noticed that their focus remains undeterred, and each sushi had the same finesse. The priority is always quality over quantity!
95% of Japanese companies use fax as their preferred mode of communication, print media is still dominant, and it is indeed a paper heavy economy. Yes, they sent physical letters to every individual during the pandemic, informing them about their upcoming vaccination schedule.
The Japanese work culture and ethics is guided by Ikigai. They bring together passion, talent, and the potential to benefit others - it is the purpose of one’s life. A modern version, which I try to observe in my daily life, requires these four qualities - what I love, what I am good at, what I am paid for, and what the world needs.
This contrasts with the fast-paced world of today, in a race to achieve quantitative outputs. There is no harm in slowing down the pace, spending time and energy to know the intrinsic value of relationships, and work-life balance, as we all find the purpose, the reason to wake up every day.
On my flight back to Singapore, reminiscing the experiences, there was a sense of calm as I promised to adopt Ikigai. Fast-forward to 2022; I am in the perpetual pursuit of perfection of my craft and Ikigai of my life.