From Mindset to Meaning – Foundations of Logopreneurship

Entrepreneurs who are resilient have a strong mindset. Entrepreneurs who stay resilient have a strong sense of meaning.

They are called logopreneurs.

What keeps them strong and successful is their deep sense and experience of meaning as well as the importance of values for their business and everyday life. They build their life on personal values. This also keeps them healthy, physically and mentally.

In leading their life freely and responsibly, and by consciously dealing with their failures and limitations, logopreneurs not only develop their business, but become entrepreneurs of their future. They shape the future today.

Logopreneurship is the conscious process of responsibly leading one‘s business and/or everyday life based on values and the will for meaning, even and especially in the face of risks and challenges.

From mindset to meaning – Foundations

For years, the ability to become an entrepreneur was thought to be linked to individual personality traits that people simply have (or don’t have). But it’s more likely to be linked to a particular way of thinking. There is lots of research about what constitutes such an entrepreneurial mindset. While such a cognitive perspective can help you on your way to becoming an entrepreneur, it’s not sufficient to keep you going and stay determined. What you really need to develop, build and run your own business is a strong motivation. Guess what!

The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow (you may know him from his pyramid of needs) and the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl agreed on the following: meaning is the strongest motivation in life. 

The good news? Frankl, psychiatrist and also the founder of logotherapy (meaning-centered psychotherapy), said that we can always find meaning in life. The “bad” news? We are responsible for it. It’s up to us to answer life’s questions, not the other way round. It is your decision to fulfill this responsibility.

It is important to note that meaning can never be “given” or “provided” by someone else. Yet, an entrepreneur can, for example, create an environment where he supports his employees to find meaning themselves.

Following your personal sense of meaning, you’re on the best way to becoming a logopreneur. Still, the question remains: how do we find meaning in life, especially in difficult times?

The value of (your) values

According to Frankl, values are opportunities to realize meaning. There are even different categories of values, hence, different potential sources of meaning: creative (doing or creating something meaningful), experiential (experiencing something or someone as meaningful), and attitudinal values ((re-) discovering a meaningful attitude towards something, they may not be able to change).

Following this line of thought, entrepreneurs themselves can experience meaning in three ways according to the different types of values:

  • First, by realizing creative values, e.g. by providing a service, innovating a product, or managing a project. Sustainability criteria can form the basis for this.
  • Second, by realizing experiential values, such as conversations with a colleague, enjoying lunch break with the whole team or receiving support in a difficult situation. It can also be a successful, high-results meeting.
  • Thirdly, by (re)discovering a meaningful attitude towards something that they may not be able to change, e.g. by accepting economic instability or tensions in society (realizing attitudinal values) or from framework conditions that they cannot change themselves.

Becoming and staying resilient

In general, it is important that we don’t focus on one value only. As a logopreneur you are able to identify and actively integrate different sources of value in your business and life. It is not recommended to base your motivation on only one source of meaning (aka value), e.g. the great team spirit, the innovative character or the product.

Rather, logopreneurs integrate quite different sources of meaning, such as the product’s contribution to society, the feeling of solidarity within the team, or the resilience to remain determined even in times of uncertainty.

Dreams vs. possibilities

While this all sounds great (possibly), but you, the reader, may be wondering what to do when you are constrained by external conditions, such as volatile markets or regulatory requirements. How do you fulfill your responsibility to realize values and experience meaning when there are so many constraints? The key is to identify and act within your areas of freedom.

This means first of all gaining clarity about those aspects and areas of your life where you can actually make a difference, however big or small. Once identified, consider what the next step is that you can take, given your time, financial and personal resources. Secondly, it’s important to identify the aspects that you can’t change (any more), even though they may still bother you. Frankl reminded us that we can’t always change the things around us, but we always have the freedom to change our attitude to the situation.

As a logopreneur, you distinguish between the realm of freedom (change is possible) and the realm of fate (change is not possible – no more).

Wherever change is possible, it’s up to you to make a conscious decision and take the necessary steps to move in the direction you want. It helps to remember that you are human, which means that you have both the freedom of will and the responsibility to act on it.

Shifting perspectives from “why?” to “what for?”

Where change is (no longer) possible, you move into acceptance and train to change perspectives. It can be helpful to ask „what for?“ instead of „why?“. While the question „why?“ often keeps us stuck in the past and puts us in a rather passive position, the question „what for?“ opens up a perspective for the future. As a logopreneur, you can ask yourself „What does this challenge me to do now?“ and use the answers as a way forward, as an active creator of your business (and life).

In this way, you are not only equipped with a strong sense of responsibility, but you also gain resilience in conditions that are often complex and uncertain.


The impact of an entrepreneurial mindset built on logotherapeutic principles yield results on different levels of the entrepreneur’s environment, not least because “[T]hose who demand performance must offer meaning” (Böckmann, 1984, title; own translation). It all comes back to leading yourself and therefore being able to lead others.

On a personal level, a logopreneur whose mindset is rooted in values and meaning is better equipped regarding setbacks, disappointments or economic downsides than entrepreneurs without this grounding. Academic results further indicate that a sense of purpose in life is also beneficial to overall health. It is possible to find meaning in creative endeavors, special experiences and even in suffering, which in turn leads to greater resilience over time.

Looking at a logopreneur’s leadership qualities, he is able to offer spaces for personal discovery of meaning to his employees, while successfully contributing to the business. Research shows that leaders can actually support their employees’ positive work experience and personal well-being in helping them connect with a bigger purpose.

On a systemic level, this philosophical, even psychohygienic, view influences humanity. Each individual is responsible for his or her own attitudes and actions. Not only the immediate environment of the individual, but also broader relationships of a logopreneur are of sustainable importance.

In a nutshell

  1. In addition to having a strong entrepreneurial mindset, logopreneurs build their business and their lives on a deep sense of meaning, a trust in meaning. This is the strongest motivation.

  2. Values serve as sources of meaning, and a logopreneur can realise different values through their business, making them particularly resilient in turbulent times.

  3. The ability to distinguish realistic possibilities from impossible dreams and the responsibility to take action is what characterises a logopreneur.

  4. The question „what for?“ (not „why?“) is what guides the logopreneur through daily life and critical phases, thereby actively creating his future.

  5. When the logopreneur applies the core principles of logotherapy to his business and his life, the effects will be felt on several levels, namely personal, social, systemic.


© Dr. Nina Bürklin, 2023.

Ikigai and Logotherapy – Dots to be Connected

Imagine two biographies at the same time, one in Europe, the other in Japan. Both life stories are characterized by severe hardships, deep suffering, reflections on sadness, hope and grief. Two people reflecting on what makes life worth living, what gives life meaning. One paving the way for meaning-centered psychotherapy through his own experiences (Viktor Frankl), the other one developing and wholeheartedly living the concept of Ikigai (Mieko Kamiya). But their paths never crossed. So the question comes up.

What if Mieko Kamiya and Viktor Frankl had met?

They might have pondered how to find meaning in the face of political instability, increasing mental health problems in society, and the loss of meaning for many individuals. They might have sat down to a rich Viennese melange or even enjoyed a traditional tea ceremony (just to fulfill all the stereotypes here). As the founders of Logotherapy (Viktor Frankl) and Ikigai psychology (Mieko Kamiya) might have also shared their sources of what makes their lives worth living, despite and perhaps because of all the suffering. Possibly, they might have discussed their approaches to finding meaning in life and how they relate to each other.

All this may have happened, but we can’t know. We can, however, explore connections that were on the verge of being discovered during their lifetimes.

On suffering – One lifetime, many experiences

Given their personal experiences and observations of great suffering, Viktor Frankl and Mieko Kamiya both pondered questions such as

  • What gives people hope in the face of adversity?
  • What do people need to feel less like victims and more like active creators of their lives?
  • How can we overcome periods of deep sadness and grief?

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible. – Viktor Frankl

Both of them have thought, written and spoken a great deal about suffering. It seems surprising how much their attitude towards, application and integration of suffering in life resembles their approach to living life.

Attitude: Viktor Frankl and Mieko Kamiya saw suffering as part of life – and nevertheless (or precisely because of this) life can be particularly worth living.

Application: Both were challenged to „apply“ their approaches to their own lives when they experienced severe hardship.

Integration: Both have experienced severe suffering in their own lives and have written a lot about it; it was clear to them that more is needed than just drugs.

Mieko Kamiya – A dedication to writing after medicine, marriage and motherhood

Mieko Kamiya, the founder of Ikigai psychology, was born in 1914 in Okayama, Japan. She had been exposed to different cultures due to her family’s move to Switzerland in her childhood, whereafter she was able to speak Germany and English fluently. She long struggled to find meaning after the loss of the love of her life in her early twenties. She was highly educated in classical literature and languages (including Italian, German, French and Greek), amongst them Marcus Aurelius’s book which she translated into Japanese later.

Already as a college student she happened to visit a sanatorium where she was deeply impressed with leprosy patients there. She felt that she should someday work for them, but it would take a few years still. She later started to study medicine in the US, but returned to Japan in the fear of the coming war where she became a medical doctor. Early on, she treated leprosy patients and her interest in psychiatry grew early on.

According to the dictionary, ikigai means „strength needed to live in this world, happiness, being alive, usefulness, effectiveness“. When we try to translate it into English, German, French, etc., there seems to be no other way to define it other than „worth living“ or „value or meaning of life. – Mieko Kamiya

Only after she had married and gave birth to two children, she dedicated her life to writing, her personal Ikigai. Thereby she fulfilled the prediction of her close friend who said: “I predict your future. You’ll be an author after you graduate from three M [Medicine, Marriage and Motherhood]”. Her most famous book is “On the Meaning of Life” (Japanese: Ikigai Ni Tsuite), but has never been translated, while excerpts of her diaries can be found in her biography “A woman with demons”. Mieko Kamiya died in 1979 from heart disease at age 65.

The meaning of meaning – Ikigai-kan

Both of their lives overlapped greatly in time and location. Yet, there is no account that states their meeting at some point. All we know for a start is that Kamiya quoted Frankl when writing about Ikigai-kan, the feeling of Ikigai.

„There are two ways to use the word „ikigai.“ It can refer to the source or object of life’s value, as in „This child is my ikigai,“ or it can refer to the mental state of feeling ikigai. The latter is what Frankl calls the “meaning of meaning.“ I will call it „Ikigai-Kan“ to distinguish it from the former „Ikigai“ itself“, said Mieko Kamiya

Viktor Frankl – Perspectives from the deepest valley and highest mountains

Viktor Frankl, the founder of Logotherapy & Existential Analysis, was born in Vienna in 1905. A neurologist and psychiatrist, he began to explore the issues of emptiness and meaninglessness at the age of 15, when he was confronted with the high rate of youth suicide in his community. He had already written the foundations of what would become known as logotherapy and existential analysis before he was sent to four concentration camps during the Second World War. Of course, he couldn’t take anything with him, so he lost all his manuscripts. Worse still, he lost his wife, parents and close friends in the war.

If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering. – Viktor Frankl

It is said that it took him only nine days to write down all the basic concepts. His book “Man’s Search for Meaning” became one of the best-selling books of all time. Less well known is that he was a great fan of mountaineering, despite his fear of heights. After losing his first wife, he remarried and took flying lessons late in life. Frankl obtained his solo pilot’s license at the age of 68. After further developing Logotherapy & Existential Analysis, he worked with many patients and taught his experience all over the world, not least in the United States and Japan. Viktor Frankl died in 1997 in Vienna.

Connections between Ikigai and Logotherapy

  1. Meaning and Ikigai are not the one big thing in life; rather, they both describe things, people, moments that make life worth living.

A person who is most likely to feel a sense of ikigai is convinced of their need to live, is clearly aware of their goal of „self-preservation,“ and is fully committed to that goal. In other words, a person who has a personal mission in his or her life that he or she proactively pursues experiences Ikigai at the highest level. – Mieko Kamiya, “Ikigai ni Tsuite”

Because both approaches – Ikigai and Logotherapy – consider that what’s worth living for is present in everyday life, in the small things (and sometimes the big things), we are able to act and create. In this way we can promote change, growth and response-ability.

  1. Meaning and Ikigai are both highly individual and bound to the unique situation; there is not the one rule of what is meaningful to us.

Every day, every hour, therefore, waits with a new meaning, and for each person there is another meaning. Thus, there is a meaning for that one, and for each one there is a particular meaning. – Viktor Frankl

Since ikigai and meaning are individual and situation-specific, we can be hopeful. How rich is our life when every moment gives us a new opportunity to decide who we want to have been in the future?

  1. There are many different sources of meaning and Ikigai in our life, not only one.

According to Logotherapy & Existential Analysis, values are opportunities to realize meaning. There are three categories of values in Logotherapy: creative, experiential and attitudinal values. Following Mieko Kamiya’s concept of Ikigai, there are seven dimensions: life satisfaction, growth & change, good future, resonance, freedom, self-realization, meaning & values.

Particularly interesting is that both approaches to life consider freedom to be a foundation for meaning in life. On the one hand side, this related to individual choices: “[A] person who has a personal mission in his or her life that he or she proactively pursues experiences Ikigai at the highest level.” – Mieko Kamiya

On the other hand, freedom always comes with responsibility. They are two sides of the same coin – that’s at the core of what makes us human. Hence, every moment gives us (individually) a new opportunity to decide who we want to have been one day.

Ikigai & Logotherapy – A contemporary conclusion

While there are many connections between Ikigai and Logotherapy yet to be explored, we can connect three dots today. First, Viktor Frankl and Mieko Kamiya saw suffering simply as part of life (not as a catastrophic exception to everyday life). As human beings, however, we can discover what’s worth living for us. Second, Ikigai-kan and meaning is found in doing and being (not in thinking and talking about it) – and it’s always unique and special. Third, it’s our freedom to make a choice, every single moment. While we can’t always change or influence our environment, we always have the freedom to change our attitude towards it.


© Dr. Nina Bürklin, 2023.