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Treasures in the Creator's Paradise -- ikigai part 2

Bryan Liu
Bryan Liu
6 min read
Treasures in the Creator's Paradise -- ikigai part 2

Table of Contents

"Bop!" I just popped a bottle of champagne, and with that I am drinking and toasting with my friend, an ex-colleague who had left the company earlier. We are celebrating my hitting the “send” button – sending in my letters of resignation.

The thrill is real and no joke. After fifteen years working professionally, I hadn't felt this liberated in ages. As I downed sips of champagne, we toasted to a bright future waiting for me down the line. The only problem is that I had no idea what I wanted to do, and the only thing I know is I didn’t want to return back to the tech industry.

Being a creator is a promising option, but is it really possible to make it a career? Can I stand out amongst the billions of creators in cyberspace? Can I make a living as a creator while finding fulfillment?

I know the stats are against me. On Youtube, there are 55 million channels (and growing fast), but 99.5% of them have less than 100k subscribers and I have to stand out from the crowd. Pareto law, the 80/20 rule, suddenly looks quite nice compared to the skewed landscapes of social media.

In the previous post, I revealed that the secret to finding our ikigai – fulfillment in career, our reason for being – lies in reversing our normal default pattern towards one that starts from serving the needs of others. Anchoring our career in this direction is important because it will reveal the key instruments to guide us to our ikigai – a compass, a telescope, an engine, and a flywheel. Let the voyage begin.

Compass of Blue Ocean – the destination of prosperity and abundance

A fine line between Blue Ocean and Red Ocean

The Blue Ocean, a term coined by author “Kim” in the book “Blue Ocean Strategy”, is the destination of opportunities and abundance where uncontested market spaces can be created and competition left in the dust. This is where we want to sail to by all means. The Red Ocean, on the other hand, is the default destination where competition is fierce and players are fighting to the death for scraps.

Every year 10,000 aspiring actors descend into Hollywood to chase their dreams of stardom. However, only 1% of the aspiring actors make it while others have to work menial part time jobs to make a living. Countless commencement speeches preached on “Don’t follow your Passion”, or “Don’t chase your dream” because doing so without means of making a living, or entering into fiercely competitive fields, is how most people end up in the graveyard of broken dreams – at the bottom of the Red Ocean.

To find the Blue Ocean, we must anchor our eyes on unmet needs of others and create economic opportunities by applying our unique creativities and capabilities. When this happens, new niches in the market are created and those with the capabilities can capture and dominate the space.

This is the harsh reminder for me to not lose sight of the Blue Ocean and to avoid misstepping into the Red Ocean at all cost. And with the Compass of Blue Ocean, I can navigate through the cloud of confusion

Feeling is the Secret Sensor

At the heart of the other 3 instruments – Vision, Mission, Career – is our feeling, our hearts. Fundamentally, inspiration, intuition, creativity, flow, love, passion are “feelings” and being in tune with these can guide us to discover our purpose, fulfillment, and natural talents.

However, in our modern society, we optimize our “analytical” side and often turn off (or tune down) our “feelings”; it is not a mystery when we don’t feel fulfilled because it has been turned off for too long.

I was a clear case in point. For years, I’ve suppressed my feelings and instead optimized the “analytical” side. Desiring to get into top tier tech companies, I switched off my heart so I can grind the soulless tech interviews, but I was competing with the best talents around the world in a zero-sum competition. Unbeknownst to me, I was slowly drifting into the Red Ocean and competing in soulless battles. All feeling of the heart was numbed and replaced with robot-like programs. No wonder I was lost and unfulfilled.

When we tune in with our feelings – what we are curious about, what we love, what feels “right” – we start off on the path towards fulfillment. Like a sensor picking up the subtle magnetic forces, our feelings guide us in the direction of fulfillment.

The Instruments of Vision, Mission, Career

When we apply our feelings to the needs of others, we generate a powerful feeling of caring and service. This leads to the Telescope of Vision – seeing the opportunities to serve the needs of others. Having a vision is important because it anchors us to the greater good. When storms come and obstacles get in our way, we can navigate through because we’ve established the vision on the destination and that will guide us through storms and obstacles.

When we combine the feelings of our hearts with what we care about and our skills, we create the Engine of Mission. Like a missionary, those who have the engine march forward towards their vision regardless of the circumstances. This is the mental game that gets us through the odyssey of our voyage.

When we combine together what we love doing, what we can be great at, and what drives our economic engine, we create the Flywheel of Career. This is a recipe for a great career where one can build a durable and long lasting career and blow past one’s competition (and get paid handsomely)

Onwards to the Blue Ocean!

Finally, with these 4 instruments in our hands, we can sail towards the Blue Ocean with confidence – with the compass guiding us, the telescope keeping our eye on the prize, the engine powering our ship, and the flywheel working our unique machinery.

As we navigate to and through the Blue Ocean, we’d find and capture opportunities that others can’t see or seize. We’d carve out and dominate a niche market by fulfilling the needs of others, doing what we love, doing what we are great at, and generating and capturing economic values. This is where we can find a fulfilling career – our ikigai.

Since  I’ve discovered the ikigai treasure map and turned around my ship, I am on my path towards finding my ikigai. No longer am I suppressing my feelings and competing in the Red Ocean; instead I am letting inspirations and intuition guide me towards the Blue Ocean. I have never felt more alive, electrified, and purposeful. Even though I am just starting my new creator journey, I am not afraid. For as long as I know I am helping others, continuously trying to bring more value to others, I know that will lead me towards a Blue Ocean. I no longer see myself needing to compete with billions of creators out there, for I know there are still unmet needs out there that require my unique experiences and talents to serve.

In the next post, I will dive deeper into these topics, and show you specifically how to find your strengths when you seem to have forgotten, how to find causes or domains you can anchor on, and how to build a monopoly by creating your Blue Ocean. Also I will share a few “Captain’s tips” to help you avoid common pitfalls.



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