Ikigai 4.0  – Flourishing Me

Last year 2017, I took a flight trip to go see the Total Solar Eclipse at the Oregon Eclipse festival. On the flight there, as I browsed through the inflight movies, I found a Japanese move called Honnōji Hotel. It was a very interesting move to me, as it is the only movie I have come across takes up the concept of Ikigai. A concept that I have applied to myself for many years. A concept of finding your passion, your mission, your profession and your vocation in life and combining it all together to your “true purpose” in life — Your Ikigai.

The Ikigai model has also been circling around in a viral way over the internet during last couple of years and it has been mentioned by World Economic Forum as one of their top posts of 2017. So it’s only fitting that I write this on my first trip to Japan, on my way to first Tokyo and then Kyoto and the World Shift Kyoto Forum 2018, where we are going to talk about questions and models just like this. And I think is time for an upgrade to the Ikigai model. So here I present to you the upgraded version that I call Ikigai 4.0 or Flourishing Me.

Floursihing Me Ikigai Michael Sillion

Ikigai 4.0 — Flourishing Me — Michael Sillion aka Captain Future


Ikigai 4.0  – Flourishing Me

I have spent the last 6 years of my life studying and redefining my identity as a Captain of Spaceship Earth. I didn’t know it from the beginning, but Jason Silva later put words and a name in my mind for the identity I was looking for all along, all based on the quote from Buckminster Fuller quote:

“We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully, nor for much longer, unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.” ~ Buckminster Fuller

The name and identity itself came into fruition during a Case Clinic at a coaching circle in the ULab mooc, where the name and the identity Captain Future was born.

For me, this was a pivotal moment. I have long been experimenting and playing with lots of different identities, titles and roles for the previous 4 years since I quit my job as a Systems Architect in the IT world. Still, I have been playing with roles and identities my whole life as a daydreamer and RPG player and game-master. But now it became much more real as I started to get custom embroidered T-Shirts with different titles on them like one of my favorites: “Holistic Thinking Ninja”.

During all these years I played with different models for doing so and most prominent was, of course, the Japanese model called Ikigai.

Ikigai Toronto Star

Ikigai  –  Image: Toronto Star

Society 3.0 and 4.0

The more I learned about and dwelled into Holistic Systems Thinking it became clear that none of the models didn’t cut it and Ikigai is more suited for the “competition-based” Industrial Economy world that Otto Scharmer calls World 2.0 or Society 2.0 in this excellent article: 4.0 Lab: Inventing the Future of Food, Finance, Health, Ed, & Management.

The world we are currently living in and constructing is the networked Society 3.0 that are so well described in Joshua Cooper’s book The Seventh Sense and by others like Seth Godin and John Hagel. A world where we are connecting and building social capital with bonding, bridging and linking.

The next step in our Civilization and Society will be a transition period into something entirely new. Like nothing we have never witnessed here on Planet Earth before. Otto Scharmer calls it Society 4.0 where awareness based systems-thinking will be part of how we do things together.

There is an excellent talk called The Transition from 2017 where Jordan Greenhall, Daniel Schmachtenberger and Forrest Landry talk about how we start prototyping this future with sense-making, compassion and systems-thinking.

Ikigai 4.0

In all this I think the Ikigai model is very outdated, so I started thinking and prototyping an updated model more suitable for today’s networked society 3.0 and tomorrows awareness based society 4.0. After a year of experimentation and prototyping, I have landed in an updated model I call “Flourishing Me”. A model to help people find their role, identity and support-structure for endeavours in co-creating and co-shaping a sustainable (or regenerative depending your preferred word choice) and flourishing tomorrow.

It’s all about adapting and exploring what role you can play in today’s society and moving into the transition period of tomorrows transformation of civilization. This is more explained in The Transition talk mentioned above.

I have structured it fittingly into 5 “flower-petal” fields. The 5 fields are:

1 –  💫 Enchanting  –  Flow States  –  Curiosity  –  Love
2  – 🚀 Level Up  – Mastery – Kick Ass At  – Augment
3  –  ⛩ Dojos  – Events  – Mentors  – Wisdom – Lifelong-learning
4  – 🖖 Enablers –  Network  –  Friends  – Family  – Resources  –  Time  –  Ambassadors
5  –  🌍 Value Creation  – Make Flourish  – Society –  Ecosystems Thinking - - Why?

Here I have chosen several labels on each field for your brain to more be able to reframe and keep a dynamic adaptive awareness around each field. And keep in mind that this is a prototype, and are so for the reason, that we should keep treating both the future and your role in it, as a prototype or betaversion in constant flux and transformation.

There are no chosen order to the fields and you can revisit and iterate each field as many times as you wish. Here is a “brief” description of each field and what you should think about as you apply the model to yourself. So take a big sheet of paper and start drawing your own flower of you:

1  –  💫 Enchanting  –  Flow States  –  Curiosity  – Love

What do you love?
What do you find enchanting?
What puts you into flow-states?
What are you naturally curious about?

What can you spend hours reading about in books or online or watch in YouTube clips?
What puts a spell on you?

Start this exercise to write down what you are curious about. Try to find at least 20 things and gladly over 50. If you think this is hard you have to start splitting up the one thing you are curious about into smaller and smaller subgroups.

Then in this field, you can put down everything that you are truly curious about. You also put things here that put you into various kinds of flow-states. If you want to know more about flow, check out the best book of 2017 called Stealing Fire with Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal or start with one of the many interviews with them.

Curiosity is a curious thing. Some parts of it is a skill. Something that you can train at and get better at. There are also 2 types of curiosity. General curiosity and deep down curiosity.

Call it what you like. There is also the myth about passion. That it is something you just can go find. Passion in most cases is something that you grow. Something that you nurture. Ken Robinson call it “Finding Your Element”. It is also that. It is many ways. If you haven’t found yours yet, or grown it. You can still do it. And you can change it and go and explore new endeavors. You just have to learn how to see and how to listen for it or them, like in my case because I have many.

Some will give you the advice to double down on just one or two things in life to become a master of and that can be true for many of us. Especially when you grow in levels and becomes older. It is also true that we need many more renaissance people who can dabble in many fields and not get lost so that they can connect the dots for others. To become system-thinkers and navigators for the rest of us.

In all cases we must strive to seek wisdom in whatever we choose to do and turn into full-time sense-makers and storytellers for the all things encounter in our journey.

Go make enchanting things.

2  – 🚀 Level Up –  Mastery –  Kick Ass At  – Augment

What do you want to get better at?
What do you want to become the best in the world at?
In what niche do you want to become the “go to person”?
What do you kick ass at?

What are you adapting to in an ever-changing world?
What do you wish you could do?
Where can we enhance and augment you?

In what things do you realize that no matter how expert you think you are there is still more to master than anyone can do in a lifetime?

This section is of course coupled together with your Enchanting section. Just like all sections are coupled together in some way. Think of what you actually train becoming better at or want to become better at. And are there things that you are good at or thought that you were good at that you have abandoned, with for lack of opportunity or lack of finding them enchanting in any way?

Are there any masters or skillsets that you admire or that you can mirror or remix from?

And this leads us directly to the next section of, in what Dojo (learning place) do you level up these skills?

3  –  ⛩ Dojos  –  Events  – Mentors  –  Wisdom  –  Lifelong-learning

Do you practice lifelong-learning in any way?
Where do you go to get you daily price of whatever you are trying to master?
Who is your mentors?

What type of events do you attend to and and how do make sure to level up in some way on each of them?
Do you practice things by doing and prototyping, or do you practice by practicing? Like with a personal trainer.

What does your Dojo look like?

And most importantly, do you surround yourself with the right kind of people in every episode and situation in your life?

For a long time, we have used schools to prepare our young for life as productive society members. And we have thought that both the nuclear family and in some ways schools can make us into model citizens that will live out a fulfilling and “productive” life. When we all now know that it takes a village to raise a child. And we also know that our brains stay plastic and susceptible to change for learning new skills and forming new neuron connections our entire lives. And we can even unlearn all un-favorable skills and behaviors we don’t like. And it is actually the un-preferable other way around, so we have to be careful and considerate in this.

Whatever we spend time on and trains, we become better at. That goes for all types of behaviours and skills. The rate and quality at which we do this are also extremely variable it turns out.

That is why we have to make sure that we seek out and adopt the very best approach to everything in life. We have to find the right Dojo, the right environment and the right master for anything. Be it everything from a simple app to actually go train for a master for our entire lives until we surpass them.

It is clear that we must rethink and redesign our entire society to include Dojos of all kinds and places, to better ourselves. Here I think there is a great opportunity for all public libraries all over the world to step into this role in an active way. To become the Dojos of Tomorrow.

4  - 🖖 Enablers  –  Network  –  Friends  –  Family  – Resources  -  Time  –  Ambassadors

Who are the friends, colleges, family members that you spend the most time with?
Do you have the right kind of backbone support to do all the things you were meant to do?
What do you need to make the next leap on your journey?

Who is your ambassadors who promote and speaks well of you?
Are you a member of the right networks or “Gatelands”?
Do you know the right Gatekeepers in your Gatelands (Networks) or the Gatelands you are trying to get into?

Do you make friends with people?
What relationships do you nature?
Are there any specific resources or facilities you need access to?

This used to be the classic question what can you get paid for doing? We now discover that we live in a world that is much more complex than just trying to answers that question straight out. Everything is connected in our now global world in some way, shape or form.

The classic way of living as a mammal and later like homo sapience on our planet, used to be to fulfill the now mythical Maslow’s pyramids of needs. Or not. Well, the whole model is very enticing if you don’t look to close. If you look closer it feels very painted over our human spirit with a very western, industrial society type of paint. And now we are swimming in the very virtual paint of the internet, digital networks, exponential tech and social media tools… to paint it over even further. One could go insane just thinking about it. And that’s just what we are starting to do in a very more rapid way. What Joshua Cooper Ramo calls the “Insanity challenge” of the 21st century.

So how to live in this world and not drown?

Add to that all the recent science of emotions and consciousness of what is really going on inside our brains. And when we mesh this together you have to actually navigate the world to fit you into it with all the other fields in this model, with endless opportunities and finite amount of time to do it on.

Yes we have to think very carefully about where all our enablers are in this world. And ask for help here. Ask for a lot of help. And then it also goes with without saying that you should help all that ask you for help in kind.

The meaning of life is 42 — “For Two” — We do it together! — Douglas Adams

5  –  🌍 Value Creation  –  What can you make Flourish  –  Society  – Ecosystems Thinking  –  Why?

Like Simon Sinek says: Start with why!

So sorry if you have gotten this far! You now have to answer this questions and then go back and redo everything from scratch. Just kidding. Or am I?

Why do anything?

In the world and time that came before us, many people have done just about anything, both good and bad throughout the ages. And it has still taken us to the point in society where we are today. We now live in global scale Civilisation. And we do so in millions of tribes, companies, organizations, societies and nations states. We consume endless resources, like they were anything but. And we pollute and rearrange complete ecosystems and habitats in a rapid and often catastrophic rate like we have never done before. This is all part of win-lose finite game mechanics that has taken us where we are today at the speeding rate we have done it. But the roads fork here.

We have to think and act very carefully when we chose what fork to embark on next. Because it is a choice. And it’s a collective global scale choice. A choice we have to make in a new and collaborative way that we have never done before. Or else we switch to a lose-lose game where every one loses and we crash our civilization into something we don’t want it to be… or we go extinct alltogether.

And all this we have start asking questions both on a societal level and on your own personal level like in this model.

So Why?

What does a better world look like to you?
How can you make sense of what is happening?
What do you wanna make flourish?

What can you make happen when you connects all your other fields together?
What value do you bring to the table?
What value are destroying or disrupting in doing so? (What is “the Shadow reaction” of what you are creating?)

What or who are you an ambassador for?
What part of a greater puzzel and system(s) are you operating in?

Flourishing Me

And in the center of it all is you. The worlds most perfect being. Just kidding. We have to go at this model with great awareness as not to become to ecocentric and instead see that we are part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Like Otto Scharmer says: To go from Ego to Eco!

So when you start connecting the dots of the mental model that is you, there can now emerge something that is the future possibility of you. It is here you should meditate on yourself. What can you become in relationships to it all?

Start Small or Big!

I know I went a little far out on the elaboration on these fields. And that is okay. If you just want to start small and at least start answering the basic questions on some of the fields that is okay. That is what I have done during the last 6 years. And I am in no way done asking my questions or answering them. And that is how the model goes. You are never done. Always lots of room for improvement. Let’s keep it that way.

So you can go about it any way you like. The world needs you to start thinking and taking this questions seriously at least. Or you can go the silly route and just make up a bunch of silly or made up answers for each part and see where that takes you. There is nothing more serious than silliness if we are going to take the creative path out of this and into a future where all of us can find our role and identity. If we start enabling all of us, we are sure to find those people that in a stroke of genius can find the first thread of a solution to a global challenge.


And last and most importantly, we can never do this alone. We do it together! Seek out and surround yourself with the people that inspires you.

We can all become crew-members of Spaceship Earth! Each one of us has an important role to play in building better flourishing tomorrow. Let’s find yours.

Let’s do this!

With Love From
Michael Sillion  –  Captain Future