A kokorozashi is not just a life goal, but an ongoing personal mission that opens the mind and helps bring possibilities into focus. Developing one can be challenging, but even incremental progress can help clarify your identity, expectations, and desires in life. Part of the process is applying a critical thinking approach to your life narrative. Here are four steps to help you continuously rethink and develop your kokorozashi.
1. Know thyself
Self-reflection is a key element of kokorozashi development and the ideal place to begin. After all, it’s difficult to define who you will become without first examining who you really are. How have your experiences influenced the development of your skills, principles, and outlook? What do you like? What are you good at? What do you value?
Try making a lifeline chart to track your happiness and satisfaction levels during significant events in your life. Don’t forget to include unhappy experiences, as these are critical in clarifying two significant parts of your kokorozashi: your values and ideals. Most people choose a personal mission because of something they have experienced. These unique stories are often profoundly moving, and this translates to the impact you will have on those around you as you pursue your kokorozashi and develop your career.
Understanding yourself through others’ eyes is also an important part of this step. Find others you trust to help you on your journey, and suggest a 360-degree evaluation to better understand how they see you. Their insights will help you understand yourself objectively.
2. Set a direction
After coming to understand your present self based on the past, consider the future. What is your ideal image of a leader? What is the best you you can be?
Successful leaders are often good role models when envisioning your ideal self. These days, opportunities to put yourself in the room with great leaders are fairly easy to find. Read up on the speaker beforehand—their life story and any books or articles they’ve written.
To understand your own human nature, read a classic like How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie, or Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman. If you want a more philosophical or metaphysical perspective, try Yomeigaku, Wang Yangming’s Neo-Confucian writings, which highly influenced the thinking of Meiji Restoration leaders. As you read, watch, or hear about leaders who have achieved success, consider how they lived their lives, and how their methods could apply to the pursuit of your kokorozashi.
At GLOBIS, we offer an opportunity for all students to attend the President’s Session with Yoshito Hori, GLOBIS Founder and President. In preparation for this annual event, students read two books written by Hori: Dear Visionary Leaders Who Create and Innovate Societies and My Personal Mission. During the two-hour session, students are encouraged to ask anything they wish. Frequent topics include career planning, entrepreneurship, dealing with adversity, and developing kokorozashi.
Sharing your kokorozashi with others and asking for their thoughts brings all the thinking and rethinking together. However, don’t just do this once—communicating your kokorozashi to others helps refine your presentation and create empathy with your audience, which then generates support. Eventually, you’ll be able to explain your kokorozashi, as well as why it is important, succinctly.
GLOBIS students have at least three opportunities to present their kokorozashi, including during courses and workshops. When these occasions arise, students must put their kokorozashi into words and think about how to explain them convincingly. Seeing an audience react is one of the best ways to understand the clarity of your kokorozashi. Don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult to convey your thoughts—this just means you may need to deepen your thinking a bit.
4. Take action and adjust
Once you’ve put your kokorozashi into words and shared it with others, it’s time to act. It may take several attempts, but overcoming the boundary between the imagined and the concrete is a critical step. Along the way, don’t forget to reassess. Why is my kokorozashi significant? Does it still excite me and reflect my values? Why do I need to be the one to do this?
Don’t forget to go at your own pace. Imagine a spiral staircase. You can ascend as slowly or as quickly as you like. Every step taken will become a source of new insight towards clarifying your kokorozashi, as well as a step closer to achieving it.
These four steps—know thyself, set a direction, share, and take action/adjust—are not only useful for defining kokorozashi. They can also be used to revisit and evaluate your career as it meets inevitable, unexpected challenges. Continuous kokorozashi development will keep your mind open to possibilities, attune your senses to what motivates you, and ultimately guide you to make a positive impact on society.
For further reading on kokorozashi development, try KOKOROZASHI: The Pursuit of Meaning in Business.