Learning Needs a Cool Factor

Current influences:

  • As I’ve recently written, I’m in the flow of the start-of-school mindset right now by virtue of how I’ve chosen to spend my time lately. Luckily my children find me more amusing than embarrassing, and they introduce me to many of their friends; most of whom are students too.
  • Financing college for both my children is a sizable effort (one I am quite happy to make), and as you can imagine, I want them to get the most of their collegiate experience. I talk to them about it – a lot.
  • I am asked to speak on Managing with Aloha on different school campuses in Hawaii fairly frequently, and it gives me numerous encounters with students who are engaged, and others who, well, are not.

All these things taken together I’ve noticed something. Something which both saddens and alarms me.

Thankfully, there are exceptions, but for too many of them, as far as our school-bound youth is concerned, there is no cool factor connected to learning, at least not the ‘learning’ they do in the school environment. On the contrary, learning has become synonymous with work, and not work of the MWA genre, the ‘work’ of the 4-letter word variety” junk, hard, a bore and yuck.

When I tell college students that I actually get a bit jealous of them, and sometimes wish I could be back in college again alongside them (very true; I say it with complete sincerity) they look at me as if I am totally clueless and in some La La Land where ignorance must be bliss.

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Thriving in a Structured Life

In September we’ll be tempted with a lot of new possibilities. The prospect of learning always has that effect on me, and I am grateful that it does.

That is why this month of August has been so good for me. When I diligently focus on ‘Imi ola, on form and function, and seeking that best possible form for my life, I get grounded. It’s a time for taking stock of the non-negotiables in my life, like time for family and the start-of-the-school year rituals I enjoy so much. Exercise and healthy habits fall into place every August for me too; it starts with my pilgrimage to the east side of my Big Island home for the annual Volcano Run, a pilgrimage which ignites this chain reaction for me with renewed vigor in my running schedule, healthier eating habits, and waning days of summer gardening where the sun can shower its blessings down on me.

Yes, I do thrive on structure. It’s like self-employment (and working for profit) versus employer-employment (and working for a paycheck); my structure is totally self-imposed and by design. I get grounded in ways that are completely under my control. They are ways rooted in my sense of responsibility for other people, such as my family and my customers (customers chosen for their friendship potential in the long run), and in recent years the Ho‘ohana Community connections I love (as with our upcoming Forum) but the resulting processes are all of my own design.

As a result, I get to enjoy a lot of freedom. For instance”


At this very moment, I type this sitting in a comfortable suite in Prescott Arizona, able to be here while my son begins his school year. His classes start later in the day, and he’s typing out the answers to an early assignment on his own laptop on the opposite end of the desk. He no longer needs me here, and the truth is that it’s become vacation time for me. Terrific writing time which has become all too rare for me these days. Part of the reason I’m here is to catch up and correct the deficit, getting some articles in draft.

Since leaving the corporate work world I’ve had the luxury of creating this week as my own self-imposed, seasonally-correct, perfectly fitting in time to be with my son. The older he gets, the less time we actually spend with each other, for this college week is more about reconnecting with his friends here and I respect that; neither of us is particularly needy. On the contrary, we’re independent to the nth degree. Still, there is a silent agreement we both understand without needing to speak of, that this week totally belongs to him, and so do I. Everyone else in the family comes 2nd, all my customers come 3rd, everyone else in the world after that.

My daughter gets her own week from me too: Hers is in March near the time of her birthday and with Spring Break. My husbands gets his too: His is more of a wild card, for we need to fit it into his employer’s schedule, but because I have more control of my schedule we always can, and we always do.

So as you can see, even the best tastes of freedom thrive on some kind of structure for me. Grounding me, giving me my footing for every other time I might calendar. Feeling in control by thriving on structure is the form I choose.

Even if you are not self-employed as I am, I bet you can begin to thrive on structure of your own design too if you just plan ahead a bit better. It doesn’t take that much time; here’s what you do on your next day off:

1. Write down some notes, just as bullet points or short phrases, on what those Aloha Spirit connected soul deposits are for you.

  • List names of the people you know you need to connect with to feel you are truly part of the human race, experiencing love in all its forms, romantic and otherwise.
  • Write down the rituals you know are part of your Mālama, your self-care. Prowling bookstores and neighborhood coffee joints, having date nights, coaching after-school sports, volunteering … what are your choices?

2. Get your calendar out next, and look for times you can dedicate to those soul deposits you listed, times which will end up to be carved out for your own well-being too. It may not be you can plan whole weeks like I do, but I am sure you can start with day-long or weekend-long dedications.

3. Call the people who are part of your plans or send them a note, and get those days blocked on their calendars too.

4. Next, carve out other times for yourself, for you can only taste freedom when you personally are experiencing it.

  • Block days here and there as sacred times you can plan for your hobbies, or for events you want to capitalize on (like my Volcano Run).
  • A great way to do this is to look for those long stretches of time where there are no three-day weekends and you can create them.
  • Another is to piggy-back your planning around coming holidays so they are no longer stressful for you.


It all starts with planning
. If you are not a planner by nature, you should still consider trying to cultivate more of it in your habits. Think about it; I’ve planned for this week I’m now enjoying every year, and a whole year in advance. But within the week itself, not a single appointment is on my calendar; I completely fly by the seat of my pants on the whims of the wind. I have planned for unplanned time; if I don’t I may never get it.


This is ‘Imi ola;
creating the form and function for your best possible life. Ultimately, we are in some measure of control; grab it where you can. How can you deny yourself the pleasure?

Line Up for Learning!

jjlearning2006Update: I will be updating the index below daily, with links to the articles which have been posted.

We also got a jump on things here: Learning Needs a Cool Factor and I highly recommend you click into the discussion, including this article by Dwayne Melancon: Ashamed of our naked skins.

Woohoo! A big MAHALO to Tim Milburn for this wonderful banner he created for us!

———————– Original Posting:

At the end of this week we will begin our annual September tribute to lifelong learning with the Ho‘ohana Community; Joyful, Jubilant Learning 2006 begins with our Ho‘ohana on September 1st.

Our writers have been dreaming, drafting, editing, and planning in some very inspired ways off the blog for nearly a full month now, and I can no longer resist giving you a preview of what is in store for us!

These are the Guest Authors who will make an appearance here on Talking Story during September, with a title grab on the articles they have written to help whet your appetite! Make note of those titles which intrigue you…

There will be a brand new learning essay posted every day of the month: Make sure you have your RSS feed for Talking Story all set up and ready to go!

9/1 I will start us off with our Ho‘ohana for the month of September on ‘Ike loa, the Hawaiian value of Knowledge, Learning, and Wisdom. My article will be called,
A Place of Knowing and of Practiced Believing”

9/2 From Toni Howard of Imua with Management
It’s an Obsession””

9/3 From Rebecca Thomas of RebeccaThomasDesigns.com
Exercise Your Passion For Learning”

9/4 From Dan Ward of Rogue Project Leader
Excerpt from “Meet the Boomer Sisters”

9/5 From Adrian Savage of Slow Leadership
Maintaining Your Ignorance”

9/6 From Greg Balanko Dickson of Business Performance Coaching
Disaster and Emergency Planning in the 21st Century”

9/7 From Starbucker of Ramblings From a Glass Half Full
Brother George and the Mid-Term: How One Test Changed My Life (and My Learning)”

9/8 From Andrea Learned of Learned on Women
Learning from the Outside In: One Woman’s Method to Gladness”

9/9 From Phil Gerbyshak of Make It Great!
Live” Learn” Lead!”

9/10 From Kevin Eikenberry of Kevin’s Blog on Learning
Why Learning is a Leader’s Most Important Skill”

9/11 From Leah Maclean of Working Solo
Top 10 Ways to Become Fluent in Technology”

9/12 From Tim Draayer of Live Your Best Life
Learning to Live Through Learning”

9/13 From EM Sky of Mind Unbound
The Joy of Discovery: Designing a Learning Process for the Human Spirit”

9/14 From Dave Rothacker of Rothacker Reviews
Nodes of Knowledge”

9/15 From Dwayne Melancon of Genuine Curiosity
You Never Know…”

9/16 From Chris Owen of Take A Bite! the Pink Apple blog
Shakin’ Off Your ‘Is That All There Is’ Blues”

9/17 From John Richardson of Success Begins Today
Adding SPARK to Your Business”

9/18 From Steve Sherlock of Steve’s 2 Cents
Evolutionary Blogging: Stories that make the connections”

9/19 From Wayne Turmel of The Cranky Middle Manager Show
I Don’t Have a Degree””

9/20 From Lisa Haneberg of Management Craft
Unplanning Learning: Debunking the Merits of a Traditional Corporate Curriculum”

9/21 From Maria Palma of The Good Life
Ten Things I’ve Learned So far in 2006”

9/22 From Tim Milburn of studentlinc.
Content Or Discontent: Which Tent Do You Live In?”

9/23 From Stacy Brice of Virtualosophy
On Being A Serendipitous Learner”

9/24 From Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World
Books, A Lifelong Learning Key”

9/25 From Yvonne DiVita of Lip-Sticking
How Executives Fail: The Learning is in Un-Learning.”

9/26 From Blaine Collins of Stronger Teams Blog
Have We Entered Learning 3.0?”

9/27 Easton Ellsworth of Business Blog Wire
10 Things I Must Have On My Learning Epitaph”

9/28 From Ken Partain of We Make Marketing Easy
Take II—My Midlife Awakening”

9/29 Joyful, Jubilant Learning 2006 will be posted as our recap for the Ho‘ohana Community Forum Archives.

Can’t wait? Visit the archives for
Joyful, Jubilant Learning 2005; 64 Ways and Counting
September Ho‘ohana 2005; Lifelong Learning

Creating Community Evangelists

A quick check-in; my travels have kept me from blogging much for you, and you may be wondering what I’m up to.

I am in Peoria Illinois this week to bring Managing with Aloha to a wonderful group of leaders and managers. My first impressions of this group have been pervasive; that is, they all demonstrate it. Simply stated, they love their work and what they do.

It is such a wonderful thing when you find a workplace like this, where people truly love being in each other’s company, and they genuinely feel good about their work; it is worthwhile, meaningful and personally rewarding for them.

One of my first encounters with the atmosphere they have created was with someone who doesn’t actually work for them, the driver taking me from the airport to my hotel. When he found out why I was in town, he began to sing their praises, letting me know how fortunate I was to be their guest, for “they are such terrific people, and everyone who works with them are great people too: I pick up a lot of them, and I’ve yet to meet one it hasn’t been a pleasure to talk to” implying that by association, I had automatically been inducted into his club of good people to meet.


Think about that:
What your company does, and how they do it, is very visible to the rest of the community you operate in. Are you creating community evangelists eager to sing your praises? It certainly fits into our value of ‘Imi ola, and creating the best possible form for your business life.