The “One Word Purpose” and Why Your Business Needs One

Ken Larson

Finding Your One Word Purpose

Many organizations take years to discover and implement their company vision and mission statements. When this happens, their focus tends to shift from “discovering professional beliefs” to “avoiding controversy,” which then results in general appeal, but doesn’t provide any company awareness.

This goes directly against the entire point of a mission statement, which should be a concise reflection of your company’s fundamental purpose


Wait. So what is “purpose”?

Purpose: This is “why” you do what you do. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s far more powerful than Vision and/or Mission. It’s your reason for being.

How does it differ from vision and mission? 

Vision: A view of who we are and where we are going

Mission: What we will do to realize our vision.

You need them all, but Purpose is where it needs to begin and be based on!


Often, the “purpose” of your business can be boiled down to one word.

This is your “Ikigai” (pronounced eek-kee-guy).
An Ikigai is the fundamental driving force behind your vision and mission. It’s the basis of every decision made at your business.

In Japanese, “Ikigai” means “reason for being.”
This concept can (and should) be used both personally and professionally – preferably the former prior to the latter.


How Can I Find My Personal Ikigai?

This is the personal growth process where the “take care of yourself before others” philosophy kicks into gear.


Ikigai is typically defined by four components:

  What you’re best at – What talent sets you apart? 

  What you love to do – What brings you the most joy and satisfaction?

  What the world needs How does it serve a cause bigger than you (and the market)?

  What you can get paid for How do you monetize it all?


Your personal ikigai should reflect what makes life worth living.
And guess what. If it’s in alignment with the organization you lead and/or work for, that’s a recipe for overall career success and happiness!

So… What is your Ikigai?

Who are you at your core? How can you use your unique talent and driving force to help you and your organization succeed? How will you use your Ikigai to garner personal fulfillment and professional significance?


Some Examples of Corporate Ikigai:

  • Starbucks = “Escape”
  • 3M = “Innovation”
  • Nike = “Competition”
  • Swimco = “Confidence” (they want you to “feel good half-naked”)

Maybe your company is centered around giving your employees everything they need to grow their career. After all, you realize that high-morale results in high-performance and business growth. In this case, your company’s Ikigai might be “opportunity.” 

Spend time finding your organization’s Ikigai. It’s critical to the very foundation of where you’re going, what you do, how you do it, and setting the course for the future of your people and your customers.

If you need help finding your personal and/or corporate Ikigai, or if you need any other business coaching advice, let’s talk!