Two of the most POWERFUL words we don’t use enough

In our personal relationships and in business

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How do you feel when you get a real thank you? I’m not talking about a “thanks” for holding the door, passing the ketchup, or a perfunctory thanks for taking my phone call. Those are all fine, but how do you feel when you get a sincere, meaningful thank you? How do you feel when someone looks you in the eye, gives you a firm handshake – or even a hug – and says, “I really want to thank you for ________. It means a lot to me and I’ll never forget it.”? How do you feel when someone hand writes you a heartfelt message and a “Thank You” on personal stationery?

Awesome, right?

“A sincere ‘thank you’ can change the day – even the life – of the receiver and the giver. Who do you need to thank today?” 

A sincere, “thank you” creates an emotional bond between both parties. It encourages the person you’re thanking. It lets them know they count in this world, they’re making a difference, and they touched your life. It also makes you feel better, elevates your relationships, and often leads to more business (bonus!).

So why don’t we do it more? We tell ourselves:

  • We’re busy
  • The other person knows we appreciate them and doesn’t care if we say “thank you” anyway
  • We don’t know how to say it
  • It’s too much trouble.

All wrong.

Here’s how we need to answer those negative thoughts we tell ourselves:

  • We’re busy – Everyone’s busy, but no one’s too busy to give or receive a thank you 
  • The other person knows we appreciate them and doesn’t care if we say “thank you” anyway – The other person doesn’t know how you feel unless you tell them, and they do care
  • We don’t know how to say it –  Just say what you feel
  • It’s too much trouble – It only takes a few minutes and can cause joy and even miracles.

I think there’s one other reason we don’t say thank you enough…It can be scary.

When you admit that you needed someone’s help, or you couldn’t have done it without them, or you care about someone, you are making yourself vulnerable.

Being vulnerable does open you up to being hurt, but it also opens you up to deeper relationships and bigger opportunities.

You can take the risk to be vulnerable, offer a sincere thank you,  and make an impact.  Or you can play it “safe,” stay quiet, and miss your opportunity. Which will you choose?

Questions for comments: Who are you going to sincerely thank today? What happened when you did?

I want to give as many people as possible my free eBook, 5 Steps to Finding Your Purpose. Please forward this to a friend who needs it. If they click here, they can get the free eBook.

Let’s GO!

It’s Easier to Create Raving Fans if You’re Doing Business on Purpose

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The leaders I talk with, from all types of organizations, comment on the problems they have with employee engagement. The latest research I’ve seen shows as many as 60% of employees are disengaged or actually hate their jobs.

That’s. Not. Good.

That leads to high employee and customer turnover, lower productivity, lower quality of work and creativity, higher error rates, and more sick days taken. And the most important driver of employee and customer engagement is the desire for “purpose,” the “why” of what you do.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s easier (and more fun) to become world class at it, and give incredible service, if you’re doing business on purpose.

If you, your team members, and customers all believe in and rally around the same purpose, you’ve got a great start.

Everything you do should line up with your purpose. If it doesn’t why are you doing it?

When you have a strong purpose in your business, you don’t get lost, you don’t drift. If you don’t have a strong purpose, it’s easy to get sidetracked for things that sound like good ideas – or just for some quick money. Stay true to your purpose and it will serve you well.

Chick-fil-A has a strong purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” The company strives to align everything it does with that purpose:

  • It’s always been closed on Sundays so all of its employees could spend time with their families and go to church, or have a day of rest. It gives up a lot of money every Sunday be being closed, but it stays true to its purpose.
  • It’s why they do so much volunteering.
  • It’s why they give free sandwiches to first responders in times of crisis.
  • It’s why they created the Winshape foundation to strengthen families and bring people closer to God and each other.

When you mean it, your company purpose will help you hire and keep the best people. Share it with the people you are interviewing. Most millenials say they don’t want to work anywhere without a purpose they believe in. And older generations might not say so, but everyone wants to be part of something with a great purpose that makes a difference.

“People want to work with a person, not for a company. Most (Operators) feel that this is more than just a job. They feel either a divine call or the satisfaction of a desire to make a difference in the world.”
S. Truett Cathy
Founder of Chick-fil-A

I just started reading, It’s My Pleasure, by Dee Ann Turner. She worked for Chick-fil-A corporate for 30 years. When she applied there, the interview process was four months long. That’s a testament to how much Chick-fil-A believes that the business is all about the people. They look for great character and people who believe in their purpose.

My 17-year-old daughter, Faith, noticed this at one of our visits to the restaurant. She happened to walk buy a manager interviewing a young teen for an entry level job. When Faith returned to our table she said, “Dad, guess what I heard the manager ask that young man…’Who are your heroes?'”

Do you think they’re asking that question during the interviews at McDonald’s? Right.

I also love the focus Chick-fil-A puts on super serving the customers. Every time I go into the restaurant I find happy employees who seem to really want to serve me. They do everything they can to help me and always say, “it’s my pleasure.”

It’s part of how they create raving fans and evangelical customers. Hey, it led me to blog about it, didn’t it?

“If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.”
–S. Truett Cathy

Does your business have a purpose everyone can rally around? If not, can you create one? If not, do you need to find a company in whose purpose you share?

Can you use that purpose to help drive your success?

What ways can you come up with to super serve your clients beyond their expectations so they just have to tell everyone they know about you?

Let’s GO!

I now offer one to one coaching and an online coaching program for various budgets. Click here for more details.

6 Steps to the Perfect, Productive Day – Everyday

 

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Do you feel overwhelmed with too much to do in your day? Do you have such a long list there is no way it’s all getting done? No matter how much you accomplish, do you feel a little bit like a failure because there’s still so much you didn’t do?

Do you just feel like you don’t have all your ducks in a row?

I know I feel like this sometimes. It’s been getting me down.

I’m putting everything I have into my business and I’ve been going a little crazy. I want to create more content for helping people and organizations pursue their Passionate Purpose. Here are some of the ideas I’m working on:

  • Create a 40 day email course – 40 Days to Finding and Pursuing Your Passionate Purpose – in written, audio, and video form
  • Film an online video course for individuals and businesses
  • Book more speaking engagements at seminars, conventions, colleges, and churches
  • Expand my personal coaching
  • Create a 365 day email encouragement program
  • Write an eBook of my most uplifting quotes
  • Write another book with new ideas, stories, and humor to help people take the next step in their journey
  • Develop an Internet marketing plan to promote my products
  • Increase my audience and email list subscribers
  • Do the research to make all of these things happen

Just writing all that down got me feeling overwhelmed again. The good news is it also got me super excited again. I love the idea that all my products will help people.

I’ve tried a lot of productivity systems. Some of them were so complicated and so much work that they just didn’t do it for me. I’ve devised a very simple, easy to implement system, that has led me to producing more meaningful work than at any other time in my life.

If you give these steps a try for a week, I bet you never go back to the old way. (Actually, even when you see how well it works for you, there will probably be times you backslide. It happens to all of us. Don’t give up. Give yourself some grace, and get back to doing what you know works for you.)

First, we need to challenge the idea that to be productive means doing everything as fast as possible and being accessible to everyone who needs us.

Ask yourself, are you trying to take on everything to please everyone and not doing your best work, or are you choosing the essential projects where your best effort makes a difference? Which would you rather do?

Step 1) Write it all down the night before. (I know you’ve heard this before, but stick with me.The way we’re going to do it, this will have you starting your days focused and excited.)

Pick a time every evening where you will spend 10-15 minutes planning the next day.  Make a list of everything you want to do tomorrow.

Step 2) Focus on what’s vital and acknowledge there will be tradeoffs.

Prioritize the tasks you want to do tomorrow. Look at your list and ask, what is the most important thing to do today that is in line with your Passionate Purpose? That will be task #1. Ask that question again to find task #2, and so on until you’ve completed the list.

“What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
–Gary Keller from The ONE Thing

Focusing on your most important thing is the key to a productive, rewarding day.

If you start to feel overwhelmed at anytime during the day, go back to your list and stay true. Or ask yourself anew, what’s the most important thing for me to do right now?

Step 3) Estimate how long each task will take. (This is what will keep you from setting yourself up for failure and over scheduling your day.)

Start with your most important task and estimate how long you think it will take to complete. Write that down next to the task. Do that for every task you listed. Add in 5-10 minute breaks every hour to refresh your mind and body. Schedule in two 30 minute blocks for something I’ll explain later.

When your time estimates equal an entire working day, you’re done. If you still have more things on your list, but no time left to do them, they must be put on the next day’s list. You must get clear on the fact that tradeoffs are necessary. That’s why we prioritized everything, remember? Don’t over schedule.

Step 4) Start your day in Concentrated Focus Time doing your most important thing.

Now it’s time to reap the rewards from last night’s planning. Start your day with two hours of Concentrated Focus Time. During this time you will only work on your most important task. You will need to explain this to your coworkers so they can support you in this. When they see how much more you’re getting done, you might even find some of them want to start doing it as well.

Start with 2 hours a day. Over time, you can expand it to 4 hours and then even 6 hours of your day. (Using this method you’ll do more in 6 hours than most people do in 8-1o hours.)

During these 2 hours there are no interruptions.

  • Close your door if you have one.
  • Put a “Deep in Concentrated Focus time” Post-it note up.
  • Close all email programs.
  • Mute all chimes, ringers, and pings.
  • Turn off visual alerts and social media messaging.
  • During your concentrated focus time this is all you do.
  • Nothing else is allowed to take up your focus and time.

Set a timer for one hour. Do nothing else except your most important thing. Then take a break to stretch, walk around the building or up and down the stairs, just clear your mind and think for 5-10 minutes. Then repeat the process. Do it for at least 2 hours of each morning.

As you complete your most important thing, move on to what next becomes your most important thing.

Step 5) Cluster your less important things, that still need to be done, to two times a day.

It would be great if you could just focus on your most important thing all day long. The reality is that we do have some other things we need to do each day as well. Remember how I had you schedule in two 30 minute blocks of time into your day? We are going to use those blocks to cluster some daily tasks.

Take your simple tasks and do them all at the same time instead of allowing them to constantly interrupt your day. I do this with email, snail mail, voice mail, and more.

What can you cluster during your day to prevent constant interruptions to your flow?

Schedule two times a day to handle these and don’t spend more than 30 minutes at a time doing these.

Step 6) Do NOT start your day with email. (This is really part of step 5, but it’s so important I made it another step.)

You spent last night getting ready for today. You are ready to hit the ground running, working on your most important thing. You fire up the laptop, open your email program and…two hours later you still haven’t started on your most important thing. You just gave every one else the power to run your day and distract you from your most important thing. Why?

Instead, let everyone in your company know you are changing the way you handle your email. Set up an auto response, and the signature of your email, to say something like this:

In order to be as effective and efficient as possible, I only answer my email twice a day – after 10:30am and 4:45pm. If there is an emergency, you may call me.

In very special circumstances, you may need to check your email 3 times a day. But if you’re telling me there is no way this will work for you, I have a question:

If you check your email three times a day, are you really telling me your customers and coworkers must have you returning emails more often than every three hours?

If that’s true, what can you do to change that? What training can you do for your co-workers? How can you delegate more and allow your coworkers to work more independently so they can get more done? What expectations can you set up with your customers so they understand what better quality – and quantity – of work for them you can get done when you focus instead of being tied to your email?

Let’s GO!

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose. You can also purchase my book, GO!

Are You Letting Someone You Don’t Even Like Control Your Day?

Man that guy is a jerk! I can’t believe how he talked to me. I wish I’d had a snappy comeback to put him in his place. He got me so upset I’m still mad about it. I wish I could just let it go, but it’s eating me up inside.

Have you ever felt like that?

We’ve all been there. It’s part of life. But how we react to these situations is up to us. Do you want to be upset all day long? Better yet, do you want to let this guy you don’t even like ruin your entire day?

OK, Greg, I’m with you. I don’t want to let this jerk control me, but how do I let it go?

1) Realize that you are in control of how you react to this. You get to decide if you’re going to continue to be angry, sad, hurt, or whatever because of what happened earlier. He can’t make you feel bad unless you let him.

2) Decide what role you played in the conflict and if there was anything you could have done differently. Sometimes we’re actually in the wrong. (I’m sure that’s rare, though, right? Ha!)

3) Write down your thoughts and feelings about the situation. Sometimes it helps to write the person an email telling him exactly how you feel. DON’T SEND IT. This is just to get your feelings down so you can let it go and think about something else.

4) Review some of the successes you’ve had in similar situations. Take a minute to be grateful for all the things that are going well today.

5) Tell yourself you are not going to give that person the power to ruin one more second of your day. Let it go. If thoughts about the conflict come up again, simply acknowledge them and let them flow right out of your head.

It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. –Epictitus

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

How Trying to Show How Smart I (think) I Am Hurt Me

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We all want to connect with people, right? We want to form good relationships in and out of the workplace. We want to be respected. We want people to know how smart and great we are!

Okay, Greg, you lost me on that last one.

Did I? Maybe it’s just me. Sometimes I notice that I have an unhealthy desire to make sure the people I’m dealing with know I’m smart, accomplished, successful…(Geez, just writing this out makes me feel like a jerk.) What adds insult to injury is that when I do this, it doesn’t help me it hurts me. It also hurts the person I’m trying to show up. So, why do I do it?

I rationalize that I mainly fall into this trap when the person I’m dealing with is putting out signals that he thinks he’s better than me. To which I brilliantly respond by thinking, “He thinks he’s better than me? Who does he think he is? I’ll show him!”

Yes, brilliant. That will get him to like me/buy from me/want to do business with me.

Wrong.

This kind of thing just happened the other day. I told myself a story that the guy I was talking with was acting like he was way better than me. So, I started talking, and talking, and talking to prove how much I knew, how smart I was, why he should listen to me, blah, blah, blah.

Then I realized what I was doing. I physically felt ill at my actions. So, I stopped. I apologized for dominating the conversation and started asking him questions. I learned a lot and actually started a friendship.

How many times do we tear down the relationships and influence we are trying to build with the need to make sure the other guy knows we’re pretty cool stuff?

We can fall into this trap with our bosses, the people we manage, our children, our spouses, our preachers…

What helps me with this is being secure in who I am, yet working at remaining humble. I remember that we are all equal in God’s eyes, that everyone knows something I don’t know, and that I will learn more and make more friends by asking questions and listening than by trying to show off.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
-C. S. Lewis

I also remember what my dad used to tell me, “Some people are thought to be fools. Others open their mouths and prove it.”

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

No More Business as Usual

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How would you like to work for a company that lets you take as much vacation as you want, bans internal email, does away with the annual performance review, and truly puts the employees welfare first?

Those are some of the idea’s in Under New Management, by David Burkus.

I had a chance to interview David about these ideas. He said many of our long standing business practices are counterproductive, wrong and misguided. It’s time to change the way we do things.

Click below to here the interview.

If this post resonated with you, Please subscribe to my blog and get my free eBook — 5 Steps to Finding Your Passionate Purpose.

Outcome or Purpose?

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Do you know what the purpose of the business you own or work for is?

Well, of course, Greg, the purpose is to make a profit. If we don’t, we go out of business.

I get that. Profits are great. But I call that the outcome of the business. Every business wants the outcome to be profit. But, there are a million ways to make a profit. What is the purpose you are fulfilling in order to get the outcome of a profit?

This isn’t just a pointless word game. Deloitte has been studying this and I have some of the data on how important it is for your employees, customers and bottom line for you later in this post.

But what made me write about this today is a story a friend told me. He said the purpose of what he used to do was to keep people healthy and free of deadly diseases.

My friend isn’t a doctor. He’s a retired engineer. He designed wastewater management systems. Look at the purpose he saw in his work. Do you think that made him a more engaged, enthusiastic, and joyful employee and person? You bet!

The purpose of your business, career, or job should be the difference you are making in the world. That’s important, engaging stuff – and every job can make a difference.

A school bus driver can see her purpose as driving a bus, or she could see it as helping the future of America get safely to and from school prepared to learn amazing things.

Most companies haven’t figured out how to be purpose driven organizations. Here are a few mission statements I found from fortune 500 companies:

  • Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment.
  • Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate.
  • To grow profitably in the world’s vehicular markets and provide industry leading shareholder value

Do those mission statements resonate with you? Do you know what the purpose of those companies is? Are you overcome with a desire to join their team and help them with their mission?

Me neither.

The first mission statement is from an agricultural equipment company. Maybe the purpose could be: “To help American farmers feed the world.”

Companies could learn a lot by looking at Steve Jobs’ mission statement for Apple in 1980: “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

That sounds like something I could get excited about. How about you?

The bottom line is that having a purpose for your business that resonates with your customers, employees, and investors helps get the outcomes you want – including increased profit.

Here is the data I promised you. Deloitte found that at organizations with a strong sense of purpose compared to those without a strong sense of purpose:

  • 73% of employees were engaged compared to 23%
  • 80% of employees said they were encouraged to innovate compared to 35%
  • 92% of employees had long lasting relationships with their customers compared to 69%.

If you’re not sure what your organization’s purpose is, its time to find it.

It’s not what you do. It’s why and how you do it.

It’s not your title. It’s your values.

It’s not what you think other people want it to be. It’s what connects with you at your core.

Take some time to think about it. Take out a piece of paper and write:

The purpose of my company is ____________________.

Or,

The purpose of my role in ________ is ________________.

How does that call you to action?

How can you start doing it in your life today?

It can be a baby step, don’t try to do it all at once. But, what can you do today to take action on your purpose?

Who Wants to Work for Fear and Money?

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Have I got a job for you! You will do what the boss tells you to, check with her before you do something on your own, and meet the numbers she tells you to meet or your fired. If you do all that, you will get to keep your job and get paid every two weeks.

Are you in?

Using the fear of losing your job and the reward of getting paid is how most businesses have been managing (controlling?) their employees for the last hundred years or so.

It works…kinda.

Depending on how badly you need the job, you put up with it. But for how long?

And what kind of work and life does that lead to?

A friend of mine had a “great” job at a big company. He was a team leader. He was earning good money. Even in this still struggling economy his job was “safe.”

And he couldn’t wait to leave.

The culture he was working in was destroying him. He felt like the company didn’t really care about him, his coworkers, his family, or even the idea of a life outside the office. It’s hard to put in your best effort for a company like that.

He was offered a job with the type of culture he was looking for and he took it. When he put in his two-week notice the company was upset. They didn’t want to lose him. They offered him a promotion and more money. They thought the old model of motivation still worked, they just had to push harder.

Wrong.

My friend took the other job. He’s super excited about the culture and is already happier, more engaged with his company, and ready to do his best work.

Gallup has done a lot of research on “employee engagement.” An engaged employee is someone who is emotionally and enthusiastically involved in the purpose of the company. He enjoys his work and looks for ways to create, innovate, and do more than is asked of him. It’s the kind of employee every business wants.

Bad news. Gallup’s numbers from 2015 show that only 35% of managers are engaged and only 30% of all employees are.

This old method of motivating employees leads to a bunch of disengaged, unhappy, ready to jump ship at a moments notice people.

Who wants to work in that type of environment? Nobody. It’s one of the reasons there is so much turnover in the workplace.

It also costs a company’s bottom line. Gallup estimates that employee disengagement costs American companies about $300 billion every year.

Ouch.

There is a better way.

The best organizations engage us by asking us to share in their purpose and share in the pleasure of:

  • Creating individual and team goals
  • Contributing something signifcant
  • Innovating
  • Making a difference
  • Working with people who support and encourage us
  • Working towards and achieving goals
  • Celebrating achievements and being rewarded for them
  • Helping us become an expert at what we do

Add in an understanding that your entire life is not the job and now you’ve got someone working with their heart and soul. Now you’ve got someone who will stick with you.

Questions for comments: How does your company engage its people? How could you improve that?

One Habit That’s Hurting Your Relationships and Career

Most of us focus on what we need to do. That’s good. But, what if some of the things we do are holding us back? Shouldn’t we work on those?

I realized this week how much I avoid people who complain. Then I realized that Icomplain too much. So I started thinking. Am I losing friends and influence every time I complain? How about you? And, what can we do to complain less?

I have a friend who likes to complain to me. I have been an empathetic sounding board. I have tried to help him generate solutions to his problems. I have simply nodded, said mmm a lot, and reflected back to him what he says. I’ve tried it all.

None of it seems to help. It’s the same thing every day. I now find myself looking for ways to avoid him. I think his boss is starting to feel the same way.

Doesn’t he see how this is hurting him? Doesn’t it make him miserable? What could he possibly get out of it that keeps him doing it?

As I was enjoying the view from my high horse it slowly dawned on me that I sometimes do this too. (And I’m a guy who blogs about personal development all the time!)

We all complain at times. It can really hurt our relationships in and out of the workplace. So why do we keep doing it? Complaining does have some positive outcomes.

  • It may make us feel better by “venting”
  • Someone may validate our feelings
  • It occasionally leads to someone else fixing the problem
  • You fit in with the other complainers

But the short and long-term consequences of complaining are way worse.

  • You lose friends and people avoid you
  • It leads to difficulty in your home life
  • You’re passed over for promotions or fired
  • You get fewer clients and sales
  • It contributes to a bad attitude and miserable life

I’m sure you can add to these lists.

Hold on, Greg, sometimes I need to complain. You don’t know what happened to me today!

Hey, I’m not the complaining Nazi. I get it. But how about greatly reducing your complaints and only doing complaining in a way that will help you?

Action Steps:

1) Keep track of every time you complain for one week. You need to know if this is a real problem for you. You might be shocked.

2) Start the day with the right mindset. Focus on all the good in your life. Who loves you? Who do you love? What makes you smile? You can find time to do this right when you wake up or on your commute to work. List what your grateful for. Pray. Before you poopoo this, try it. (I will not be poopooed!)

3) When you are about to complain, stop yourself. Use the A-B-C techniques in Rational Emotive Therapy to make sure you are thinking logically about the problem and responding rationally to it.

4) Turn your complaint into an idea for a solution. What can you do to fix the problem? Are you talking to the right person to fix it? Friends, family and bosses love people who have solutions. You’ll be surprised how often your solution, or something close to it, is implemented. Even if it isn’t, people will see you as a positive, solution oriented person instead of someone who complains all the time.

5) Find a complaint friend if you really have to vent. My wife and I do this for each other. We use each other to vent the big things that really tick us off. That way we don’t complain to everyone else. (Be careful here, we still limit how much we complain to each other or we will drive each other crazy.)

Question: What techniques do you use to minimize complaining?

Finding Your Passionate Purpose is Good for Your Life and Your Career

Why do you get up in the morning? What gets you going? What are you passionate about?

It isn’t just about your job or your career. Too often, we separate our lives into work, leisure, and retirement. I’m talking about finding your calling, your passionate purpose that you pursue in every part of your life.

I love Dan Buettner’s research on longevity. In his research in Okinawa, he found they don’t even have a word for retirement. Instead, they simply have Ikigai (Eek-y-guy).

Basically, it means the reason you wake up in the morning.

I love that. What is your Ikigai?

Don’t just read that and move on. Take some time today or this weekend and figure it out.

Knowing and pursuing your Passionate Purpose (your Ikigai) is good for you, your life, and your career.

Numerous research studies show it helps you life a healthier life. It decreases depression, stress and the risk of stroke or heart attack. It increases your overall sense of well being and leads to more joy and happiness.

It helps you with all your personal relationships.

It helps you be more productive and successful at work.

It helps you become a better leader.

It helps you create an extraordinary life of joy, meaning, and significance.

I would love to hear your Ikaigai. Let me know in the comments.

My next few posts will discuss techniques you can use if you’re having trouble figuring it out.