Ikigai and Moai Principles Offer a Transformative Mentoring Approach

Written by: Angela McGuire | January 2024

Over the past year I have had the privilege of participating in the genesis of a Blues Zones city in the southeastern region of the United States. Blue Zones employs evidence-based solutions to help people live better and longer by making healthier choices easier where people live, work, learn, and play (www.BlueZones.com). Ikigai and Moai are two of the tenets intertwined in the Blue Zones model for living a healthier life.  Though these concepts aren’t specific to mentoring, exploring their relevance to mentoring relationships unveils a unique synergy that fosters personal growth and connection.

Ikigai, often described as the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for, serves as a compass for individuals seeking purpose. When applied to mentoring, it becomes a guiding principle for both mentors and mentees, encouraging them to align their passions, skills, and contributions within the mentoring dynamic. Mentors, driven by their Ikigai, can provide more meaningful guidance. By identifying their own purpose and values, mentors can inspire and be a guide to their mentees as they explore their own unique intersections. This alignment facilitates a deeper connection and a more authentic mentoring experience. For mentees, understanding their Ikigai helps them set clear goals and expectations. It empowers them to actively seek mentors whose experiences and values resonate with their own Ikigai. This intentional approach contributes to a mentoring relationship that goes beyond skill development, nurturing personal and professional fulfillment.

Moai is a Japanese term for social support groups which emphasizes the importance of community and shared experiences. In mentoring relationships, Moai principles encourage the formation of supportive networks around the mentor-mentee relationship. This collective support system amplifies the impact of mentoring, providing diverse perspectives and shared wisdom. The research of mentoring scholars like Kathy Kram and Belle Rose Ragins shows the power of developmental networks such as these on mentee growth. Kram and Ragins (2007) encourage those in mentoring relationships to not only take part in developmental networks but to strengthen their value through mutual learning and fostering more connections. Mentors and mentees can engage in group discussions, collaborative projects, and shared learning experiences. This not only enriches the mentoring process but also creates a supportive network that extends beyond individual pairings. By intertwining Ikigai and Moai dynamics in mentoring, a collective sense of purpose emerges. Mentoring relationships go beyond individual journeys but also contribute to a broader community with shared values and goals. This interconnectedness enhances the overall impact, creating a ripple effect of positive influence.

In mentoring relationships, the incorporation of Ikigai and Moai principles offers a transformative approach. Mentors and mentees, driven by their unique purpose, find enhanced meaning and fulfillment in their journey together. As the mentoring landscape evolves, embracing these Japanese concepts can pave the way for more purposeful and connected relationships.

Ragins, B. R. and Kram, K. (2007). The Handbook of Mentoring at Work. Sage Publications, Inc.

Top Ten Reasons to Buy The Mentor’s Guide, Third Edition

Top Ten Reasons to Buy The Mentor’s Guide, Third Edition

Major Changes to the 3rd Edition

Major Changes to the Third Edition

Since the first edition appeared in 2000, interest in and knowledge about adult learning and development has grown exponentially. We now recognize that adult learning is more than a cognitive process; it is a multidimensional phenomenon. The uniqueness of the adult learner has been accentuated over the last decade as we continue to learn about more the complexities of the brain, multiple types of intelligence, and our emotional selves. All of this has meant fundamental changes for mentoring, and for this guide. Among the major changes:

  1. A full two chapters are now devoted to the importance of context and connecting in mentoring, including an exploration of the context of difference and the context of how people come together to connect with one another in the relationship.
  2. Conversation between mentors and mentees are drawn from actual mentoring experiences in a variety of situations, including business, government, nonprofit, and higher education, and reflect the diversity of the global workplace.
  3. There is more discussion and emphasis on mentoring relationships embedded in  context including a consideration of the context of other differences—sexual orientation, gender, and race—in the mentoring relationship, with many examples 
  4. The chapter on the context of connection has been expanded to include physical, virtual, and personal context, with special attention to how virtual mentoring connections  offer new ways to create and enhance positive mentoring relationships.
  5. The section on mentoring matches addresses seeking, selecting and evaluating a potential mentoring relationship.
  6. Additional examples have been included along with an enhanced mentor skills list and updated approaches for starting your mentoring relationship.
  7. The goal setting process has been expanded from SMART goals to SMARTer goals, adding to the specificity and measurability of the process.
  8. There is an enhanced conversation guide to help mentors evaluate mentee learning goals, full consideration of emotional triggers that impact mentoring and guidance for co-creating your mentoring partnership 
  9.  Includes more emphasis on trust, including the dynamics of self-trust and interpersonal trust
  10.  Includes updated and enhanced content on feedback including how to get back on track when stumbling blocks get in the way. Explores the dynamics of the feedback process with many more examples and a feedback checklist for mentors.

WeMentor Podcast Mini-Series Pt. 3: A Rare Look Inside a Mother and Daughter’s Transition of Ownership

The Center for Mentoring Excellence has always been run by women passionate about mentoring. But did you know that CME is a family business? The third part of the WeMentor podcast mini-series features Dr. Lois Zachary and Lisa Fain. They discuss what worked for them in passing the baton from mother to daughter, and how mentoring played a role in their successful transfer. 


WeMentor Podcast Mini-Series Pt. 1: Mentoring Excellence with Dr. Lois Zachary

To honor National Mentoring Day (10/27) and International Mentoring Day (10/29), the podcast WeMentor, hosted a three-part mini-series featuring the Center for Mentoring Excellence.

Check out part one of the series, where the founder of Center of Mentoring Excellence, Dr. Lois Zachary, discusses how she became an author, Ph.D. graduate, and entrepreneurial leader.

Finding the Right Mentor

Finding the Right Mentor

I’m a bit of an introvert, and by a bit, I mean when I’m at a party, you’ll find me in a corner hanging out with the dogs. So when I think about a mentoring relationship, the hardest part is starting the relationship. Who do I ask? How do I ask? In this NPR Lifekit episode, Lisa Fain, CEO of Center for Mentoring Excellence, discusses finding the right mentor and how to ask them to be your mentor.

3 Fun Resources (About Mentoring)

3 Fun Resources (About Mentoring)

For a change of pace, here are a few resources (2 that are unlikely) related to mentoring.

#1 – A great Ted X talk

Check out this great TEDx Talk by University of Maryland professor Dr. Kimberly Griffin. There are great references to Marvel comics and reality TV, as well as three critical takeaways:

  • Remember mentoring is about relationship.
  • Don’t seek one mentor to provide answers to all your questions. Instead, create a group of mentors who can provide a variety of guidance.
  • Be mindful of the rule of reciprocity — Think about what you have to give to your mentors, not just what you have to get.



screenshot from her TEDx Talk via YouTube.

Dr. Kimberly Griffin during her TEDx talk

You can find Dr. Kimberly Griffin on Twitter: @doctorkag

screenshot from her TEDx Talk via YouTube.

Find Cara Allwill Leyba on IG: @thechampagnediet

#3 – A Classic film

I first saw Cinema Paradiso when I was a teenager, and I remember getting goosebumps then.  I still love this film, which reminds us how a mentor’s voice can shape us, stay in our heads, and guide our decisions long after the mentoring period has passed.



    #2 – A Poem

    This poem reminds us that we are constantly evolving the importance of taking ownership of our learning and growth.

    Worthy by Cara Alwill Leyba (from the book, Stripped),

    You must aggressively
    detox yourself
    from negative thoughts,
    poisonous people,
    and disempowering beliefs.
    You must believe
    with every thread of your heart
    that you are worthy.
    You must make your personal evolution
    a full-time job.



    Learn together, but don’t get stuck on the escalator

    Learn together, but don’t get stuck on the escalator

    One way to harness the power of mentoring is for mentor and mentee to study something together. I employ this practice in one of my current mentoring relationships. My mentee and I choose a topic and find a book or article related to the topic to read between our monthly sessions It’s been an excellent way for both of us to learn and to guide our discussions.   

     Here are some tips to make this work for you:

    Agree on the mechanics.

    Decide who will choose the reading and how much of it you will discuss at the next meeting.

    Keep it relevant.

    Make sure that the topic is related to the mentee’s goals. In mentoring, learning is always for the sake of development, and it should be tailored to the mentee’s learning objectives. 

    Right-size the homework.

    Nothing kills follow-through like being overwhelmed. If you choose a book, break it into chapters and agree to read a few chapters, The idea is to generate enthusiasm for learning together, not to slog through the material.

    Come prepared to discuss.

    Remember that this reading is just for enlightenment; it is an opportunity to learn together. Mentors, resist the temptation to teach or lecture. Plan on discussing what you learned and how you think this might relate to your mentoring objectives.

    Create an implementation plan.

    I used to live in Washington, DC, where there are crazy long escalators that go down to the metro stations. There are times I would feel like the ride on the escalator was as long as the rest of my commute. Some people hate those escalators, and even have nightmares about getting stuck on one and never making it home! Like many fears, there is no explaining this one. Even if the escalator abruptly broke down, you wouldn’t be stuck on it. You could always walk up-or down the escalator to get to your next destination. 

    The reliance on reading to create change is a little like waiting for someone to fix the escalator. At some point, you may have to use the skills you have to get the results you want. Knowledge will only get you so far. After you discuss your learning, create an action plan to bring that learning to life.