How To Answer Why MBA – The Ikigai Way
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect”, said Mark Twain.
Flashback to last year. You’d find me squished among the fellow software engineers on a bus passing Silk road at the height of rush hour. I would recall the last time the I was happy about my day, the last time I really loved what I was doing every day and the last time crowd clapped for me when I was on stage. But there I was, just another member of the crowd in that bus. I was the picture of burnout, wondering if I should really go for MBA. But I was sure about one thing – living this way was not sustainable.
What is Ikigai?
Let’s take a Japanese detour.
Like many Sanskrit words, there is no direct and simple translation of the word ‘Ikigai’. Ikigai can be explained in the form of the question – “What makes you jump up out of bed each morning?”. It is the idea that life is more than job title, status and money. This concept is a lot different from the usual motivational rhetoric – Follow your passion. Instead, it tells you to find happiness in everyday activities. Even when a person is chopping onions, the wrist moves in delightful rhythm with the knife. In the process, the person not only makes oneself useful but also becomes instrumental in raising the overall tempo of the action.
Now, let’s see how the Ikigai framework will help you assess the question – ‘Why MBA’?
As you see in the figure, Ikigai can be visualized as the intersection of answers to these four questions:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What can you be paid for?
- What does the world need?
Steps To Find Your Ikigai
Step 1: Answer the above questions honestly.
Step 2: If the answers to the above question did not spark much insight into answering your question of MBA. Try these questions to get more clarity in the answers specific to MBA.
- If you were concerned about the money, status, would you still go for MBA?
- With some more education in MBA and experience in B school, can you excel as a manager?
- Are you not already making a good living? Can you eventually make a good living after MBA?
- Will an MBA degree increase your value tremendously?
- Are you helping solve an actual problem after your MBA?
- Could you enthusiastically talk about management as a profession for hours together?
Step 3: If your answer is “yes” to four or more questions to the questions in step 2, iterate and ask the same questions over and again. When you are truly convinced with the “yes” answers, congratulate yourself for finding your Ikigai – the reason for being.
Ikigai framework is not a magical tool to find the purpose of ones’ life. Purpose, per se, evolves over a period of time. However, Ikigai entails a fulfilling profession not only on a professional scale but also on a spiritual angle. Of course, to whoever bothers to wake up in the morning!