by Hugo Shephard

Ikigai? Say what? Here at Role Models, we love this word. It’s a Japanese concept meaning a ‘reason for being’. In simple terms, it means finding your purpose in life through what you love, what the world needs, what you can be paid for and what you are good at, as this diagram explains.

One of the reasons we love it is because it sits right at the heart of our company’s vision. We want to help as many children as possible to discover what they love and what they are good at. In fact, we believe this is the real and only purpose of school and why we offer parents creative childcare. If your daughter loves singing for example, we will find her someone to inspire and develop that passion. Not just because we believe in doing that, but because we believe that young people gain incredible amounts of confidence from following their passions. We want children’s passions to turn into their purpose and ultimately, their profession. It’s one of the reasons we get up in the mornings.

Recently, we met a man who had more Ikigai than most. London City Voices was started by a musical force of nature called Richard Swan. Previously a teacher who realised one day that he loved teaching and developing choirs, he now runs one of London’s most thriving community choirs and inspires over 400 people a week through music. His choir exists because he wants people to harmonise their work/life balance through the power of singing together. We know from personal experience how much it works. Richard is doing what he loves, what he can get paid for and what he rightly believes the world needs, which is much more harmony, literally and metaphorically. He is also one of the most talented musicians we’ve ever come across and so he’s a living, breathing example of what Ikigai really means.

So, the next time you fancy putting the cat amongst the pigeons around the breakfast table, start by asking what everyone’s Ikigai is. If your children aren’t sure, send them our way. If you’re not sure, loosen your vocal cords and look Richard Swan up at It might just change your life.

– Hugo Shephard, Managing Director at Role Models

If you’d like to find out more about our Creative Childcare service, then please click here

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Role Models help children fly by giving them the skills they need to grow, develop and thrive in a changing world because they believe that children should be skilled for life as well as being schooled in the classroom.

To do this, they offer individual creative childcare to support childrens’ passions. They also provide courses that give children some of the key skills to succeed in the 21st century; leadership, resilience, teamwork and creative problem solving. They approach everything in a way that’s serious fun. Click here to learn more.

Hugo Shephard is the Managing Director of Role Models. The Role Models philosophy is to nurture character in children because they believe that ‘soft skills’ are as important as academic attainment. They focus on the individual strengths of every child and are deeply committed to supporting them through their formative years, ­whether that be through their Creative Childcare, Life Skills Courses or Special Needs Camps.. Before founding Role Models, Hugo worked at Ernst & Young as a Management Consultant in the healthcare sector.

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