In retrospect, I often think how lucky I was to have my early career in what Hawai‘i dubs “the hospitality business,” the nickname for the tourism and travel industry management businesses which became the lifeblood of our islands once urbanization started to gobble up our agricultural lands. However back then, I sure didn’t feel lucky, just swept away in a raging ocean swell, doing the best I could to keep my head above water.
It was, and still is a hard business to be in, for being a workaholic comes with the territory, and it is one of those very needy businesses that consume you totally. Your only global consciousness comes from “the tourist with the funny accent.” Most people who start their working lives within the hospitality business will marry and start their families within it (and I was one of the many who did) because they simply don’t get away from it enough to meet the “normal people” in the rest of society.
So despite all that, why do I think I was lucky? People visit Hawai‘i wanting their own dream of aloha to come true, and you cannot be in the “hospitality business” without that core knowledge about your customer. Most visitors have heard the word aloha, and they arrive with the concept of aloha shrouded in a kind of mystique; they know it’s supposed to be a good thing, and they know they have to find it before they leave, for that’s what people who have gone to Hawai‘i experience, right?
Well, lucky for them (usually, we have our gone-wrong stories too) they will be the customers of our biggest industry, and the people in charge will expect everyone who gets a paycheck from them to bring their aloha to work. Managing with Aloha was written in part to correct some of the crookedness of this thinking, however this was my stroke of luck: I learned about hospitality through the lens of the Hawaiian value of Ho‘okipa, and I, someone who knows she is innately introverted and had been sadly lacking in the social graces, was groomed within this business to deliver the hospitality of the Mea Ho‘okipa (the extraordinary host and hostess) to every single person I met.
Yes, I did it for the business, and I learned to be a good employee. However along the way, I eventually came to understand how profoundly true this is:
“One of life’s greatest laws is that you cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening your own as well.”
In other words, I learned how to be Mea Ho‘okipa for me.
If we managers in business use aloha to coach our staff as the possible Mea Ho‘okipa they may be, the gift we can give them is this:
They will never feel they are subservient to a customer, boss, owner, or co-worker again.
My value essay of the month is up on www.ManagingWithAloha.com and Ho‘okipa is the star. I do hope you will click over there and take up the challenge I present for the Ho‘ohana Community in July. Here is a snippet;
Ho‘okipa defines the art of true service
Is hospitality a sleeping art?
We all yearn for more hospitality, for we know it to be a strong, very genuine signal of the aloha spirit waiting for us within a new relationship, whether that relationship is with a person, a team, a neighborhood, a business, or an entire society.
So what can we do to awaken this sleeping art, doing our part to help hospitality be more vibrant again? How can we savor it more, and crave it less?
For there to be ho‘okipa, hospitality must be unconditional
Unconditional means there are absolutely no strings attached.
Imagine that you are standing in front of this beautiful woman.
… continued at MWA.
This month, we strive for Ho‘okipa, the hospitality of complete giving.
Do join us; let’s Ho‘ohana (work intentionally within our values), and let’s talk story in support of each other’s learning.
Hospitality is one of the most universally appealing values given and thankfully shared; it connects to many others. For me, Aloha and Lokomaika‘i (generosity) are those that first come to mind; how about for you?
Archive Dipping; closely related to Ho‘okipa