Look for the Overlap
The best topic for you is at the intersection of 4 things, and the concept of Ikigai can help. To figure this out for yourself, you can do an “Idea Ikigai” with four sheets of paper.
- On the first sheet write, “What I Want.” List the things that you want this idea to do for you, your goals.
- On the second sheet write, “What I Know.” List the strategies, concepts, topics, skills, etc. that you know equal to or better than those around you. This can be from both your personal and professional life.
- On the third sheet write, “What I Love.” On this paper list out all the things you love. Things you’d spend any amount of hours working on whether you’re great at them or not.
- Finally, on the fourth sheet write, “What People Need.” Put the problems you see in the world that you want to solve.
When you’re finished, look at all four sheets of paper and try to find overlap. Try to find something you know and love that solves for something people need. That’s how to find a topic that sticks if you can align it with your goals.
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– Great ideas aren’t found, they’re built. The best ones are built on a rock-solid foundation of a topic. Where do you find that? That’s what we’re talking about this week on Find the Red Thread. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com and I’ll be your host. Please remember to like and subscribe.
Topics are the foundation on which big ideas are built. I love the fact that the word foundation has “found” in it. The best topics for you are found at the intersection of four things. Now, today we’re going to do this as a little bit of an exercise. I want you to go get four pieces of blank paper or open four separate documents. The point is that you can look at one piece of paper without looking at the others, at least to start.
On the first piece of paper, I want you to write at the top, “what I want.” And then what I want you to list out are the things that you want this idea to do for you. What are the goals that you’re trying to achieve? Now, there may be one thing on this list. That’s fine, but it’s really important that we understand what your idea is meant to do for you. That way we can check to make sure it realistically can do that thing.
So, write it down or write those things down, plural, on that first sheet. Now, set that aside and then pull out a second sheet. At the top you’re going to write, “what I know.” Now, what you’re going to write on this page are all the things that you know. All the strategies, concepts, topics, skills, things that you know equal to or better than those around you.
What are the things that you feel you know particularly well? Now, important here, include both professional and personal things, draw from everything. Draw from your early childhood. Draw from what you studied in school. Draw from work experience. Draw from you hobbies. What do you know a lot about and more than the average bear? Set that one aside.
Now, on the third piece of paper I want you to write up at the top, “what I love.” Then I want you to list out all the things that you love. So these aren’t just the things that you’re great at, these are the things that you love. The things that light you up. The things that you would spend any amount of hours doing, playing around with, problem solving about.
What are those things? And again, draw from both personal and professional. What are the things that just make you light up?
And then finally, on the fourth sheet of paper, I want you to write, “what people need.” Now, this is going to be a fairly personal list. This is you looking out into the world and saying, “these are things that are going on out there that bother me. The things that I want to help solve. I want to help people achieve goals. I want to help them meet unmet needs. I want to help them solve these kinds of problems.”
And you can be very specific about that or very conceptual. You can say everything from, “I want to help people figure out how to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.” That’s a very specific one. Your very conceptual answer might be, “I want people to close the gap between potential and reality.” That’s how I would describe one of the things that I like to put in that column of what people need.
What you’re trying to capture here are the things that people are looking for that you feel compelled to help them get. It’s as simple as that. Now you may see where this is going but what I want you to do is look at all four sheets of paper. Particularly, look at the last three: what I love, what I know, and what people need. Look at where there are matches across there.
You want to pay particular attention for when you’ve got an intersection between something you know and something you love that solves for something people need. And then the last check is, how then does that match up with what I want? Because the what I want is the source of where you figure out specifically what that idea might look like. And where you figure out how you might put it out into the world.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Okay, this sounds a lot like something else that I’ve seen.” And yes, I learned that the Japanese concept of “Ikigai,” a kind of intersection of four things, matched up pretty exactly with something I was already using to help clients figure out what their best topics are.
So, you can consider this “Idea Ikigai.” Your topic is best found at the intersection of what you want, what you know, what you love, and what people need. If you need help figuring out what that idea is, contact me at TamsenWebster.com. We will find not just your topic, but the idea that will make it come to life and help you get what it is you want. Thanks for listening. I look forward to seeing you next week.