“How did Ho‘ohana get to be your mantra?”

I’ve had a couple of people ask me this since Tuesday’s post, and you needn’t ask me twice to talk about it ”

Ho‘ohana is my Hawaiian value for worthwhile work, and in a nutshell, I like to work. I thrive on it. It’s fun for me, and it’s very rewarding. The second chapter of my book is devoted to Ho‘ohana, right after chapter one on Aloha.

To ho‘ohana is to work with intent, with purpose. Work can, and should be, a time when you are working to bring meaning, fulfillment, and fun to the life you lead.

Managers do this for themselves, and they do this for those they manage. They teach and coach people to do it for themselves. And for me, there are few things more rewarding than that.

When you Ho‘ohana, you redefine the word “work” and make it yours. Ho‘ohana urges you to indulge your passion for the pleasures of work by choosing the right work in the first place.

Work in celebration of your natural strengths, talents and gifts.
Work to make your weaknesses irrelevant, for they are.
Work at something you love doing, something that brings you joy.
Work to feel the satisfaction of good hard work, of intentional effort.
Work to break a sweat, and to get dirty and gritty and real.
Work to fulfill your personal mission, or
Work to show your agreement with another’s mission.
Work to make a difference, to feel fulfilled, to “make meaning.”
Work to serve others well, and serve your spirit for giving.
Work to support someone you care about.
Work to help someone you believe in.
Work to learn what you don’t yet know.
Work for a cause you feel deeply about.
Work to leave a legacy.
Work to create a better future.
Work to deliver a gift to humanity.

Do these things, and you Ho‘ohana. You work for yourself. And in the process, I can guarantee you will bring more value to your life, and to your world.

Thus, as you know, Ho‘ohana easily became the name I chose for my monthly Talk Story newsletter too. It’s a name worth living up to, it’s the promise I work to keep in my writing.

It’s my personal mantra and the mantra of my company.

So again, I’ll ask you the same question I asked on Tuesday: what’s your mantra?

And don’t answer for me (although I’d love to hear it). Answer it for yourself.


  1. Doug Murata says

    Only have time for a brief comment…I downloaded a copy of the preview for Guy Kawasaki’s new book, but have still to read through it. I like the idea of a mantra instead of a mission statement.
    A few years ago I took a sabbatical from work, hoping to find out what my real passions were. I ended up confirming what I already knew…that I had a real passion for excellence. I like to fix things…to improve and make them better. I am never satisfied with the status quo. Problem is that term is really overused.
    So, reading about Rosa’s mantra of Ho‘ohana, I thought of “mo bettah” as a way of describing my mantra. It is in pidgin…I would prefer a Hawaiian word, but I don’t know enough Hawaiian to be able to come up with one.
    Perhaps someone could make a few suggestions on a Hawaiian word that might be appropriate for my personal mantra.

  2. says

    Doug, I do know that many people consider Kela and/or Ho‘okela as the value of excellence (there is a slightly different kaona, or hidden meaning, in Kulia i ka nu‘u, striving for the summit—the value we associate excellence with in Managing with Aloha.) However, like you, I’d love to hear of other interpretations.
    Sometimes pidgin says it best too, and I believe one’s mantra means most when it is truly about the blending of kaona (a hidden story) and mana‘o (the fervency of your own belief). At Hualalai, the resort landscape ‘ohana adopted this short phrase as their mantra: “If can, can.” It seemed to say it so much easier, better, and more passionately than “If the possibility exists, we will achieve it.”

  3. Doug says

    Thank you Rosa…for your feedback and suggestions. I want to ponder on them a bit. I really like the idea of blending kaona and mana‘o because of the richness of meaning it seems to imply. I got a real kick out of your Hualalai‘ohana mantra….and I will look forward to reading about “Kulia i ka nu‘u” in your book.