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Hey it’s Andrew here from  This episode is part of my 2017 end of year challenge – I’m committing to give you two weeks solid of advice, reflections and actions for you to maximise what you learn from 2017, and  unleash your greater potential in 2018.  If you haven’t already I suggest you listen to How to succeed in 2018 without goals or new years resolutions,  Know your customer, how to find more time, and Look up and out.  And there’s plenty more coming after this too.


I’m still taking bookings for 2018, I’d love to come out to your team meeting, strategy session, retreat, internal conference or workshop to help you and your teams become more effective in 2018.  I had a lovely note from Sarah yesterday, about the internal safety conference she runs in her business.

Sarah got me to come in and facilitate some group sessions on safety conversations, and be part of a super cool panel discussion.  I’d love to help you and your team with an experience designed just for you, send me an email andrew [at] and we can get the ball rolling.


In today’s episode I’ll share how to harness your reason for being, your ikigai.

I regularly hear that health and safety professionals feel stressed, anxious, frustrated and burned out because their job feels like such a grind.  Some feel unfulfilled, some just unsure about their career and job decisions.


I find that when things aren’t working as well as they could in my life, especially when there is high uncertainty, I can always rely on my core beliefs and values to guide me, which come together to form my collective reason for being.


The Japanese word ikigai roughly translates to mean ‘reason for being’.   I use this idea of ikigai when coaching people inside Safety on Tap Connected.  NOW you can head over to to download the free transcript of this episode PLUS a worksheet to help you take action from this episode.


Ikigai is made up of 4 things, which you can think of as drivers or motivators, which all together intersect to reveal your reason for being.  It’s like 4 overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. If you’re watching this on video, here it is.  If you are listening to the audio, you can download this diagram and worksheet just above this text.


The first circle of our four is what will people pay for.  This is often our first motivator for work, for how we spend a third or more of our adult life.  Many people start and end their decisions based solely on this, and treat it like an external force – one they have no control over.


Next to that is what the world needs.  This sounds altruistic, but is a common driver for many health and safety professionals – we believe that the world needs to get better at doing work so less people are injured, become ill or die.


Then consider what you are good at, this is all about you and what you offer the world.  Your skills, attitude, personal attributes which both you and others would say make you good.  This can be hard for some to reflect on, because it feels egotistical.  Put that aside and focus on what you, and others, would agree, you are good at.


And finally what you love.  It seems this is the most important thing to get right in life, to begin your reflection on, but we don’t spend much time reflecting on this.  What lights you up, when do you feel like you are in flow, in your groove, when you are fully alive.  That’s what you love.


If you aren’t reflective and intentional about your life, how will you ever find your ikigai? There are so many people who find meaning and joy in their home life, and work becomes just a way of paying the bills.  That’s not the kind of life I want to live, especially when we spend a over a third of our adult waking hours at work.


Ironically, you’d probably agree that an ideal life would start with what we love, then what we’re good at, then what the world needs and finally what we can be paid for.  But most of us start backwards, and wonder why we aren’t as fulfilled as we could be.


Now this isn’t just about improving your work life, though I think it can.  This is about how you can grow as a whole person, how you can have a more effective impact in your limited time on this earth.  And it’s smart too – a 7 year longitudinal study in Japan found that a person’s sense of ikigai was highly predictive of their health and risk of dying, controlled for all other variables such as age, lifestyle factors and individual factors.  So being clear on your ikigai and actively working towards it, will help you live a longer and healthier life.


Let me give you a quick example of how Ikigai has guided me.  Working in health and safety started as a good idea because it would mean good pay.  Seriously, that’s the advice I got as I left school.  It grew into a passion, which I Loved and was good at.


But what I loved was more about me and my own learning and growth, and less about what the world needed – in fact there have been plenty of things I have done in my career in the name of health and safety that the world definitely did not need.  That comes back to my learning journey, and feeds back into what I got better and better at.  My ikigai guided me to leave a very well paying, highly autonomous and enjoyable 6 figure job to start my own business, because I saw that the world needed more health and safety stuff which actually delivered results rather than bureaucracy and fear and control.


I’ve always loved helping grow other people, I am good at it and they needed it, but that specifically wasn’t connected to my job’s per se, what I was paid for.  So in my business I didn’t have the luxury of coaching and mentoring people on someone else’s dollar, so I started the podcast to increase how many people I could help.  To this day the podcast doesn’t make money though.


After listening carefully to you, I created Safety on Tap Connected to provide a more effective option for professional development, better bang for your buck, more learning and more growth.  That is slowly starting to pay for itself.  But I continue to be driven by what you need, and thankfully what I’m good at and love often matches up with your needs.


Not to mention that the world is in drastic need of more effective health and safety professionals! Getting paid for me is last, though it does help feed my 6 kids and pay the mortgage, all of those practical things in life! So that’s a little insight into how my ikigai has led me into your life.


So time for reflection and action.

Start thinking about your own ikigai.  Grab the free worksheet from below, and start jotting down on the diagram the various things in your life that fit in the various circles.  Now for the perfectionists like me, don’t stress about exactly where things fit inside or outside the diagram, a good start is simple to work out roughly how you spend your time, and which is the best fit category for them.


This will become a messy exercise believe me, as you reflect on the overlapping areas of your ikigai, and the strength of various things like what you are a master at versus things you are basically competent at.  Don’t agonise over it, let the concept help you get into flow.

And if you do this well, it will be something you regularly come back to as a guide for your decisions, your mindset, your work and how you spend your time.  If you are a manager of people, I suggest you get yours started, and then you can start ikigai flavoured discussions with your people to support their development.


[I’ve shared my personal ikigai inside Safety on Tap Connected, which is part of an extended video course on this topic of ikigai].  If you are interested in that, plus getting personal coaching from me, and learning from an engaged community of peers, check out, or if you want me to come out and help you and your team send me an email andrew [at]


Knowing, and striving for your ikigai is one way to take positive, effective and rewarding action to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way.  Seeya!