September Ho‘ohana; Lifelong Learning

‘Ike loa is to know well. To seek knowledge and wisdom.

‘Ike loa is the Hawaiian value of learning.

My children were just ending their middle school years when the trending toward the year-round school calendar made its way to Hawaii. So for us, Kepakemapa (September) has always signalled a definite shift: the month has been synonymous with Back IN School and the disciplined scheduling habits that came with it. The laid back laziness we indulgently wallowed in over the summer was but another memory, and hopefully it had recharged us. The Back to School shopping had been done in August, the nice new teachers had begun to dole out homework, and it was time to buckle down and get the brain in gear.

Ashley and Zach always went through a rash of different emotions about all this. Me? I’ve always loved it, always will.

As a mom, September has held exciting prospects for me, for I knew that by the time summer returned and another school year had gone by, my children would have grown in wondrous ways. Not physically, although of course that happened too, but intellectually. I couldn’t wait for the debates; for them to trump my old thinking with their new whys and why nots. Whether they realized it or not — and no matter how much they might try to fight it — they would learn, and they would continue to tweak how they learned. They would be affected by the knowledge that had been shared with them, that had challenged them to understand and comprehend it, and they would emerge as new people.

Throughout it all, I’d be preening like a brilliant blue peacock.

‘Ike loa is the value that my managers have told me “turns you into an absolute fanatic” and I suppose that’s true. It is one of my favorites, for it is all about learning and seeking more knowledge, something I am very passionate about. Gaining more knowledge equates to having more confidence and belief in one’s ability and capacity to learn, and having more of that self-belief empowers you, liberates you and releases a creativity you may not have even realized you possessed. You constantly give birth to new possibilities in this creative process; you create your own destiny, seeking your best possible life (‘Imi ola).

You are sure to feed your body each day, aren’t you? Well, new knowledge is the food for mind, heart and soul. Without it, you are not providing nourishment for your overall well-being. We grow as we learn.

—Managing with Aloha, page 135-136

When we’re in school, we wonder, when will I ever use this stuff? Only after our schooldays are done do we finally realize that we weren’t there to remember the stuff; we were there to learn how to learn it, to get practice at a host of different learning styles — virtually risk-free — until we finally discovered the best way we personally could be, and would be, lifelong learners.

Fast-forward to a career in management, and guess what? We are taught to recruit and hire learners, for learners innovate, learners embrace change, and change is the “new normal” in business. We discover that if we can now perceive how our employees learn best, we can manage them better; we can help them banish routine, boredom, mediocrity, apathy and complacency. We can help them love the work they do, and associate more meaning to it. As their champions, we can love our own work too, for our employees have become our work. They are our causes, our successes, our joys.

We become parents, and we discover that as our children learn they become more confident, more independent. They can become more inspired, they can have more hope for the future, and they can see more possibility than we can. They can be better than we ever were. They remind us that everything is impossible until the first person does it, and someday someone will. They dream of being that first person, and they infect us with their dreams; we suddenly become very conscious of the time we have already let slip by. We discover that giving them a love of lifelong learning is the best possible gift we can give them —  and that is a gift we are fully capable of giving them.

As we make all of these discoveries, what about us? What about our learning?

Us too. Same things. It is never too late.

Ho‘ohana with me this month: Let’s go back to school; a school of our own design. Let’s learn something. Let’s learn a lot of somethings. Let’s get inspired, and nourish our minds, our hearts, our souls. Let’s lead in learning with our own good example.

We’re here to live our lives too, and “of those to whom much has been given, much is expected.” Ours must also be lives of lifelong learning, and lifelong growing. We deserve it.

I am going to challenge you this month: If you feel you are already a learner, you will be the one I pick on the most! Set your sights high in these next 29 days: Today is your only day to decide and plan: What will you have learned when September is over? Choose something of your own design, and then get ready to learn even more.

After all, we are the the Ho‘ohana Community.

Postscript: If you are new to Talking Story, Ho‘ohana „¢ is the monthly newsletter of Say Leadership Coaching, sent on the first of each month to our email subscribers. Talking Story is home to the Ho‘ohana „¢ online essay of each issue, and we explore more on the newsletter’s theme periodically through-out the rest of the month. The best way to sort out the Ho‘ohana „¢ posts from the others, is to click on the Talking Story category link named Monthly Ho‘ohana: they’ll appear from newest to oldest. 

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  1. says

    A few years ago it struck me that my life was probably about two-thirds over. I could look back and see that the theme of the first third had to do with identity: with separating who I am from the expectations of others and forging a sense of myself. I could see that the theme of the second third had been exploring how I contribute to the human community and developing the perspectives and skills needed to make the best contribution possible for me.
    I thought it would be very cool if I could gain some inkling about the theme of the final third at its beginning. I visited, spoke with, and studied with a number of wise elders. It became clear to me that the theme of the final third had to do with harvesting the truly important substance of the first two-thirds, and teaching and communicating them to others, while continuing to grow in my understanding of them and my ability to communicate them: thus three books, new workshops, new focus in coaching and consulting.
    One of those elders, poet and potter M C Richards (author of “Centering” and no relation to me) looked me squarley in the eye, her archetypal-crone-like face smiling mischievously, and asked, “So, Dick Richards, are you prepared to be a sage?” The question haunts me.

  2. says

    Lifelong learning is such a vital process, and yet so many after high school or college never pick up another book for the rest of his/her life. Sad really.
    But it’s an opportunity for those of us who have, to, as Rosa said, “lead in learning.”
    At the end of this month, I hope to learn how to do a better job of public speaking, as I will attend my first Toastmasters meeting on 9/14. Here’s to learning!

  3. says

    Such trusting sharing with us Dick, thank you!
    I do think the journey you describe is one which rings very familiar to most of us when we take a look back at our lives. About your very last line: why does it “haunt” you? I would say it energizes you and challenges you, but also has the potential to soften and calm you.
    I would also say it suits you.
    Aloha kaua e, Rosa

    Good for you Phil!
    Even with all the speaking I already do, I am seriously considering joining a local ToastMistress organization myself — I have to find one! With all that Adrian, John, and Steve have written about ToastMasters it becomes more and more irresistible to me, both to improve upon my own speaking, and because their organization mission is so appealing to me. Adrian had shared with me that their mission is: “to provide a positive and supportive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.”
    Then of course there is the potential for relationship and community. Great learning goal Phil, and thank you for the added push…
    Me ke aloha, Rosa
    Ho‘ohana Community: Phil wrote a really terrific post about his personal learning here:

  4. says

    I’m Grateful To Be Grateful

    It took me a long time in my life to grasp just how glad I am to be grateful to others — and how often I forget, even now, to express my gratitude. So today’s a good day, since I can do exactly that.

  5. says

    Taco Bell: New Tampa

    You don’t even want to think of going in there! It took us fifteen minutes to get a cup of cheese. I nervously smiled at the teenage couple as they walked by and shook their heads with one of those,

  6. says

    Learning is fundamental to breathing, don’t you think, Rosa? I always learn so much from you, from your writing and from the so marvelous interaction of your growing community. You’ve given me something to contemplate…I will give this careful thought before writing. As usual, you challenge us (me!) to reflect on what’s happening to the inner me, as opposed to the outer me.

  7. says

    Rosa – What a great theme for the “back to school” season. I have been reflecting on my own learning and the process that I am going..err…growing through. As you know, I work with student leaders. It is a fine balance to encourage them to lead, as well as, to learn. I believe that one can learn without having to lead, but one cannot lead without being a learner. Lifelong leaders are also lifelong learners.
    As a leader, I learned a long time ago that a person must PLAN for their own growth. It doesn’t happen automatically. So I join you in your quest to encourage myself and others to become “students” in our own learning environments.

  8. says

    Focus On Learning

    September is traditionally the time when students head back to school. In my own house, my kids are showing off their new school supplies, new school clothes, and talking about their new teachers. While there is great excitement to get

  9. says

    Yes Yvonne, I would absolutely agree with you; especially when I consider the connection to aloha and our sharing of “the breath of life,” for I do believe we learn best via the connections we have with other people: those we share our lives with become our best mentors and teachers.
    Do you suppose that’s why contemplation can be tougher at times, or if not tougher, take longer, because we tend to do that alone, with only the walls of our own brains to echo back at us? Positive feedback loops are so much more fulfilling with others.

    Aloha Tim, so good to hear from you! I was thinking of you when I was in Prescott with my son, imagining what the start of the school year looked and felt like for you in your neck of the woods. At ERAU I had the stimulating good fortune to meet the officers of their Student Government Assn in what they called a “Straight Talk” session. Seeing how these students so naturally and confidently assume what they see as their responsibility for leadership was both inspiring and comforting: They truly gave me the impression that they will be equipped to deal with whatever future we have hurled at them.
    I have never before put the words “lifelong” and “leaders” together, and yet seeing you do so here, makes me wonder why not, for it really does open up an entirely new realm of thought: it raises the bar.
    Thank you both for such great comments; I am looking forward to the great writing/ sharing/ learning I KNOW you both have coming! Rosa

  10. says

    Observing is Learning

    Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird , says, Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on. In a school sense, learning never came easy to me. The effort put forth to obtain grades

  11. says

    Thank you Rosa for the prod about “haunting.” I meant it in the sense that Norman Maclean uses it in the last line of “A River Runs Through It” (one of my all time favorites). The line is, “I am haunted by waters.”
    In that sense you are quite right to call it energizing and challenging. The question haunts me in that way — it calls rather than spooks.

  12. says

    Lifelong learning? yes, that’s me, too!
    I’ve often felt that I was wasting part of my many school years, and that I could have made a stronger effort back then, but what did a wild teenager care about getting grades and doing homework? When I graduated, there was a translocation ceremony where some of us received a modest book prize, given “for good work done outside the clasroom”. That was right up my alley – we were three girls who had spent about a hundred hours, restoring the old school library, earning a neat sum of extra pocket money. We were a handful of students hwo arranged an art exhibit with student oeuvres; mine were a group of prints created last minute, the evening before. We had worked backstage with decorations and costumes for the yearly drama play, we started a film club and a book club, wrote articles for the student paper and the year book – but sometimes we were too exhausted by all these extracurricular activities to do our homework!
    And, by then we did not have the internet…
    Today, I find that I’m taking sort of a revenge; I cannot get tired of learning new things, so many that I sometimes feel I could stay awake for days without a need to stop!
    Somehow I have lost sight of this month’s Ho’oana, and I still feel I would like to read Rosa’s MWA once more before I start writing my personal review of the book. MY reason for coming back just tonight was that I needed to refer a friend to MWA and see how to catch up. So good to know that this enlightening conversation will stay, and I can get back reading more next time I have nothing urgent to do. Hm. Oh – and for the homework part? I’m actually procrastinating because I’ve a deadline!
    So I guess I’d better get offline and just write what needs to get written!

  13. says


    A few weeks ago, Dawn was telling me that her oldest, Kathryn, was going to be learning to play the clarinet.I mentioned that, as a child, I played the flute, but that I’d always found the sax to be a

  14. says

    Joyful, Jubilant Learning: 64 ways and counting

    Are you ready for this? It’s unbelievably dazzling. The powerful synergy of a learning community, of you. This is what you’ve taught me about Lifelong Learning this month. These are in no particular order; the numbers are the links to