Writing is for Thinking

Writing

On Say “Alaka‘i” today: Writing is for Thinking

At first take, we think of writing as a way we can communicate. Writing is much more than that: Writing is for thinking. Communicating is just one possible result.

For instance, I am convinced that one of the reasons blogging has taken off the way it has, is because writing for an audience helps the writer think more clearly in the process of their communication result.   They need the clarity if they are to be understood in the way they intend to be understood, especially in such a public publishing platform.

I’m big on journaling exercises in my coaching for much the same reason. I’m one of those people who have always written to think better, doing so long before there were blogs, however I have also found that encouraging the transcribing of the written word helps other people too. It’s simple, it’s quick, it’s portable, and best of all, it works.

Straight-forward management strategy doesn’t get much better than that.

Thus as far as Alaka‘i management and leadership in business, writing is a skill that the successful will learn to master. You learn to master it yourself, and you coach those you manage and lead to master it as well.
Better communication results as a fringe benefit, but the real treasure to be uncovered is the clarity of your connected thinking.

Writing and journaling is a process kind of thing. Writing is the mental gymnastics that you can then apply to the best possible health of your productivity.

Once I write something out I transfer my decisions to my calendar (my calendar is an “obey me” commander I do not ignore or negotiate with) or I just act on it right then and there. One of those two things done, the writing that led up to it will often get thrown away ”“ even if it’s been pages and pages of stuff. I don’t need or want the clutter; I need and want the clarity.

So managers, leaders, pick up that pen or pencil and start to write.
Sit at your keyboard with an open Word doc if you prefer, however make it your habit so you can continually work on mastering the skill ofgreat writing. Don’t worry about any publishing of it for now, though it could result for you later in a staff newsletter, in better emailsto your customers, or in a clear partnership agreement with your suppliers. For now, the writing that you do for your eyes only will probably be what’s most valuable to you. You will think, you will reason, you will come to greater clarity in better decisions, all skills Alaka‘i managers and leaders must master.

Let’s talk story.

Are you someone who will also write to think? Tell us more! Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” ~
Writing is for Thinking

photo credit: Writing by JKim1 on Flickr

Attention and Intention: Right back atcha Rosa!

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Preface:

I am proud of you and honored by you, our Ho‘ohana Community. From now on, you will see this HC badge pop up to the right, to let you know when I am writing to you as the community we have become here, and not specifically in regard to my normal subject matter of Aloha-inspired management and leadership in values-based workplace cultures and personal behaviors.

Before I launch into the rest of this posting, I want to say that I do intend to have my Talking Story articles evolve to a much shorter form from now on. This will not be a short one today, but I feel it is extremely important, as it is foundational to what is yet to come.

It is about our intentions and our attentions. A powerful match-up we have spoken about both here in regard to Ho‘ohana and at Joyful Jubilant Learning. You’ve called me on them, and that is just the very latest reason why I am proud of you and why you inspire me!


I am going to pull a comment from our conversations here over the weekend by way of introducing this post:

Paul wrote:

As a recipient of your newsletter announcing these changes it is really interesting to see the story of the decisions behind these changes from your perspective… I can really empathise with your decision to make this change. To me it signifies a couple of things: The first is your ability to exhibit leadership not just as a coach but in the way you live & lead your own work & life. The second is your willingness to embrace the new, new media that many of us are still feeling our way with and take the kind of steps that confirm the closeness and interaction you want with this community.

And I responded:

It’s
funny Paul, I pride myself on my independence (rebellion at times!) and
on my quick decision-making, but I also know my growth has come during
those times I open myself up to being wrong. I am still not there with
everyone I encounter, but being wrong when someone in our Ho‘ohana
Community is willing to tell me so? Wrong doesn’t get any better than
that! So I open up and go with the learning that sometimes, keeping the
can-be-ugly process all to yourself is foolish. This is one, very smart
community.


As for embracing the new media, that is actually the easy part, for I
really, truly love it, and I think we should all have a) free medical
care and b) free internet access! When I think of what we human beings
could achieve by being fully healthy and fully connected… wow.

Meant every word. Mahalo Paul, for giving me the opening to express that.

I did deliberate for a long time, and I wrung my hands over my decision to indefinitely retire our Ho‘ohana ‘ÅŒlelo newsletter. That final issue I sent last week suffered through draft after draft – Exactly what do I say? – until I finally said to myself, Enough already! You know them, they know you, just send it!

And you did know. You knew more. You knew about what I did not say too.


2 Blue, 1 White~ Front

As from Paul, your comments here and in other public forums we have were very, very generous and supportive. A few of you were more direct in emailing me privately.

To paraphrase your messages very succinctly (for they too were very generous and supportive), over the last week you have asked me

Rosa, what is your underlying objective in what you do today?

How much has this recession changed your attentions and your business?

Exactly what is it that you want, or expect from us as the Ho‘ohana
Community?

And you deserve an answer. Let’s talk story about where our canoe will paddle to next.

My focus has not shifted, but it has become more precisely targeted. I will explain. Let’s start with the second question first.

Has the recession changed your attentions and your business?

The recession was not a trigger – the experiences which made up the whole of my business over the last 6 years combined into the powerful, and not-to-be-ignored trigger. The recession has actually been a gift of sorts for me, as it was an accelerant: I am now working on a reinvention of my business model that I had projected for 2010 through 2012, and instead I am doing it right now, convinced I need not, and should not wait.

Yes, the recession has been a big hit to the cash flow of my coaching business, however it has also given me more time to work on strategic pursuits and entrepreneurial development of my other ideas versus the gig-after-gig, trip-after-trip delivery of product and service that I already have. I now have time to innovate and invent, and not just duplicate.

What is the underlying objective in what you do today?

In brief, less individual coaching, and more team coaching and workplace culture design. Less personal service delivery, and more product development that will better scale the Managing with Aloha movement. And my dream is just that: To have movements tip with working with aloha, managing with aloha, leading with aloha, and teaching with aloha.

At this very moment, to be brutally honest (with myself) Managing with Aloha is merely interesting to people as opposed to a true movement. In the last five years since my book was published (and the philosophy thus shared) I do feel I have made great strides with bringing MWA to individuals, but not enough progress has been made with organizational culture.

I believe the secret sauce to be in enabling powerful teams versus individual mavericks. Thus my objective is to shift my focus to teams and to communities, the more globally inclusive they are the better.

Hence my decision was a first step in that shift: No more email broadcasting to individuals who are not connecting with each other by merit of that newsletter alone.

Exactly what is it that you want, or expect from us as the Ho‘ohana Community?

Okay. Deep breath.

You have told me that you were connecting, you were using my value of the month program with each other and within your own teams, and I just did not see or hear about it personally. Great! Keep it going!

If that is what you have been doing, you don’t need me to nag you about it anymore, and I need to devote my Ho‘ohana attentions to a more publicly staged movement. Some of you have expressed guilt about not saying thank you to me enough, and sure, appreciation for what I freely publish is great, recognition is wonderful, but that’s not it – you have no reason to feel guilty. We are growing – I am growing too, and if I do not lead new initiatives, how can I ask you to do so?

I want and will now expect bravery and transparency on web-based spaces we will develop and brand with our Ho‘ohana Community name. I want inclusive collaboration between teams of people who are ready to be leaders in their chosen communities.

I want those things in public, and not anonymously or privately, and not just behind closed doors and too-safe havens, and I am deliriously excited that today’s social web is helping us make that happen. I have been frustrated with lurkers and silent readers who take, take, take, and do not give back in the way that will allow our community movements to grow in larger expressions of aloha management and Alaka‘i leadership and I realize I cannot be all things to all people. Said another way, in the jargon of the day, I hereby choose my next tribe, and they will be the movers and shakers, the creators of vital movements.

I want to give my attentions to the courageous, self-motivated and energetic person to says “Can do” instead of meaning “Won’t try” and who thinks “Why not?” instead of saying “Yeah but”” I am not giving up on individuals completely, not at all. However the individual who will now get my attention, and my coaching and mentoring intentions is the emerging leader who clearly understands something:

  • He or she must be effective individually, walking the talk of self-management and self-leadership and relentlessly pursuing the lifelong learning of personal growth.
  • The Ho‘ohana [intentional work] of Aloha management and Alaka‘i leadership is about teams, tribes, and creating powerful community movements. There is a lot of need in our world, and we have to answer a higher calling with serving our fellow human beings.

And please understand that MWA is just one expression of a possible movement.

Over the past few years I have learned something about myself: I love being a community organizer. I think of Joyful Jubilant Learning as the pioneer community of incredible people who have helped me shape my thinking. We have accomplished so much there, and now I want to step it up, both there and in other forums.

As of this writing, Talking Story is one, and our new MWA-HC Group on LinkedIn is another. I am writing for Say “Alaka‘i” at The Honolulu Advertiser to offer up my continued coaching in our learning of Alaka‘i-aligned management and leadership, and to give back to my own local community.

So why didn’t you just say this in your last newsletter?

I did not feel it was the right venue, and when the right time came, I strongly suspected that Talking Story would be. I did not anticipate it would be so soon, but I underestimated you and your readiness, and I promise, I will not do that again.

So let’s talk story.

What else would you like to know? I will answer you honestly and transparently here: I fully intend to commit Talking Story to the sense of place I described above. A place of Aloha, of Alaka‘i, and in support of courageous, publicly transparent web-based learning and collaboration.

Ho‘ole‘ale‘a: Time to come out and play. Sure, I am very serious about what I have said here, but no one said we wouldn’t have a great time in our doing of it!

Thank you for subscribing to Talking Story

I cannot add another posting here without FIRST saying a HUGE mahalo [thank you] to those of you who are reading these words.

You’re still here, and I am beyond overjoyed. Here’s why.

This past week has been uncharacteristically nerve-wracking for me.

I’m normally someone who is very definite about my decisions. I make them fairly quickly, just a few breaths beyond impulsively, knowing when I need to sleep on them before I act. Once I make my decisions there are usually no regrets, and rarely any turning back; I’m already working on my next set of intentions.

This past week I made, and acted on a decision which was the exception to my normal m.o. for I’d been thinking about it for months now, and I’m still thinking about it although it’s essentially done. At first-take the decision seems like no big deal: I dumped the email newsletter editor I’d been using for the past six years, because I decided that the program was no longer serving me or my subscribers as well as it could. I’d been waiting for some leadership in email communications which never came from them; they were my supplier, but not my partner, and I expected more, and was tired of waiting for it.

However I did not replace them either, for I couldn’t find the leadership and innovation I was looking for emerging with any of their competitors. So what I did this past week, was send a final letter to all my newsletter subscribers saying that my Ho‘ohana ‘ÅŒlelo email newsletter would be on an indefinite hiatus. To continue in auto-pilot mode when I was less than happy with the service just wasn’t acceptable anymore; I’d let it continue long enough. Thus my decision not to give someone my business any longer morphed into a bigger decision to put my newsletter out of commission as well, perhaps temporarily, but perhaps in a manner which ultimately means that bringing it back at some point amounts to starting from scratch.

Here’s why I feel this was a big decision. Where would my subscribers go? Would they feel I had abandoned them? I wasn’t just rejecting a so-so supplier, I was fragmenting and possibly invalidating what is pure gold to any business owner, or any person valuing a personal network of relationships: A data base of contacts who were never purchased from some list, but had opted in, giving me permission to send them email. I have essentially asked my email subscribers ”“ some for as long as the past six years ”“ to change their habits in communicating with me, and still remain connected to me through their own initiative and willingness to follow-up, taking the huge risk that many may choose not to.

I have not rejected email totally, but as I wrote in my final newsletter this past Tuesday,

“Email in particular, is something I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with: I still love it for communicating with people privately, however it has dramatically fallen out of favor with me as a broadcasting medium, and the way you respond to me has demonstrated that the great majority of you largely feel the same way. Membership in our Ho'ohana Community of Managing with Aloha practitioners continues to grow, yet I can no longer trace our most effective communication with each other as a consequence of my emailed newsletters to you.


The last thing I want to do is create more inbox clutter for you, and I feel I am very accessible; thanks to search, it is very easy to locate me online, even if you were to lose every email address you ever had for me.”

People could have taken my truthfulness in that last sentence as arrogance, and gosh I hope not, for that would be awful. I have to hope they feel they know me better than that, and have appreciated my honesty.

Here’s what happened so far.

I decided to share the results of this week’s decision with you for two reasons.

1. You did follow up! You are hugely important to me as the select group of people who are reading these words at this moment, and I want you to have the evidence why, evidence of how special you are besides me just saying so.

2. We Ho‘ohana together. Many of you face similar decisions in your own businesses, and if learning from my decision’s case study can help you at all it will make these results all the sweeter.

I mentioned fragmentation. As far as I can tell, my final Ho‘ohana ‘ÅŒlelo missive this week was opened by 40% of the people I sent it to. That number is a bit better than the track record of the past year’s worth of newsletters, and is a measurement which had significantly factored into my original decision. Experts will tell you that after awhile monthly newsletters do hit the downslope of diminishing returns (i.e. getting read at all), and that downslope motion has accelerated in recent years as a) spammers cause email firewalls to be more aggressive than ever before, and b) as our informational reading increases: We are all living in the age of digital bombardment.

Out of the 40% who opened my email, read it and took action:

Update: To be clear, some of you took more than one, or all of those actions above, for we do communicate in a number of different ways. The percentages add up to 100% as the first trackable action you took which I could trace.


So now what? Nānā i ke kumu ~ we look to the source.

So now you are here, and I want to do more than say “thank you” to you, I want to show you how much I mean it.

I am newly committed to making Talking Story the primary voice of our Ho‘ohana Community. I will be challenging myself ”“ and I hope you will join me in taking up this challenge ”“ to take Talking Story to ‘Imi ola ke Ho‘ohana Aloha, the best possible form for the Aloha we share as the Ho‘ohana Community of our future.

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It feels right. We started here in so many ways, for Talking Story has been a source, pre-dating the thriving neighborhoods we now have for our community at Joyful Jubilant Learning, on LinkedIn and on Twitter, and even for Managing with Aloha Coaching (which had been MWA Jumpstart Second Edition).

That said, I don’t want to be bombarding you either, and I won’t be posting every day. Speak up, and let me know what resonates with you, what you appreciate being here and what doesn’t matter, and we’ll figure this out together, kākou, just as we always have.

In other words, we’ll talk story.

Mahalo nui loa. Thank you so, so much for being here.


The gift card above was designed for me by the ever-thoughtful Dwayne Melancon, author of Genuine Curiosity

How do you Learn? Really, how?

Preface: This posting is a follow-up to this one: Do you ask good questions? If you haven’t read it yet, please consider going there first; for the preview will frame this article much better for you.

Alaka‘i managers and leaders are lifelong learners. They have to be. Learning is how” how what? My feeling, and what I have continuously observed over time, especially as someone with a calling for better management, is that learning is how we grow.

Lifelong learning is one of those qualities that can get a lot of lip service. We all understand that we can learn bad habits just as effectively as we can learn good ones, yet learning doesn’t really have any wrong connotations to it. Generally speaking, we all agree that learning is a great thing, and hence we assume that learning is good, and good for us. Our more youthful schooling aside, no one argues any differently; no one rebels.

Still a bunch of lip service. Peer into most classrooms and into the faces of most students (whether in academia or in a workplace training session), and unfortunately you will see that we don’t truly value learning until we realize that
a) We need it, and we need it now, and
b) We aren’t exactly sure how to go about doing it in the way that is most effective for us.

Just because we all do it, it doesn’t mean we do it well. In fact, most of us don’t. (If we did, the argument could be made that we wouldn’t be in this economic mess right now).

Does your learning SERVE you?

Learning truly begins to serve us well only after we personally connect to it in ways we value as exceptionally useful to us. Alas, that doesn’t happen for most of us while we are in school ”“ the very place it was supposed to happen.

It’s when we get to be adults that we begin to realize what things we have to learn for our own well-being, and nine times out of ten, we’re then on our own with figuring them out, and not just the subject matter at hand: We’re on our own with figuring out how we learn best.

This is why I believe that when a business owner incorporates ‘Ike loa [the Hawaiian value of lifelong learning] into his company’s organizational culture, he gives everyone associated with his company an extraordinary gift: He gives them Ho‘ohana context for the learning they now have to do. If that Ho‘ohana is also their calling, it is also learning they want to do. It is learning they thrill to; it is learning that grows them.

Focus on this question of HOW you learn

Do yourself a favor. Whether you have an Alaka‘i manager and leader for a boss or not, figure out for yourself exactly how you learn.

The easiest way to do this is to back-track cause and effect: Trace your learning steps back to the causes which produced your most effective learning result. What did you last learn, which you can honestly say was best-result learning of consequence, because it still serves you well?

You will often hear teachers and coaches quote the NLP buckets [neuro-linguistic programming] asking you if you are largely visual, auditory, tactile or kinesthetic. However we use all those approaches when we learn; it’s biological:

– Our ears and voice enable us to be auditory and verbal

– Our eyes enable us to be visual

– Our sense of touch enables us be tactile
–Our emotions enable us to be kinesthetic
– And our brains and our spirit help us add an instinctual, gut-level wisdom and intelligence to all four

Thus I find NLP is great when we extend the conversation into how we will communicate our learning (and conversely, our teaching), but for the how of your learning, go deeper into the cause by picking out the details of exactly what it is you do. You want to know how you learn best so you can duplicate those causes, and repeat effective learning as opposed to ineffective learning.

For instance, it wasn’t until after I had graduated from high school and went to college that I figured out I love to study in a certain way. I thrive in quiet, and I had to create study spaces in those pockets of time my roommates weren’t around in my very cramped first apartment, and I figured out how to pick the right spaces when I was out and about elsewhere too. I am a reader, I am a writer, and I study by connecting those two things in visual + tactile patterns. Then, if it is learning I want to last a long time (learning I have decided is a ‘keeper’ for me), I have to attach it to my language of intention, creating a vocabulary for it. (You saw me do so in this posting with the phrase ‘intellectual honesty’). Then I will physically connect my new speech pattern to some kind of work activity; not only does the learning stick because of my speech, it starts to serve me.

When I can articulate my learning process for a boss, I am telling him or her how to work with me when I am growing. They will know when I am truly learning something, or if I merely have a passing interest in it, soon to let it go until it disappears forever.

How we learn is one of our strengths

A big clue is what you are doing when you find you enjoy learning. As author Marcus Buckingham coaches us toward understanding in Go Put your Strengths to Work, our appetites have an innate sort of wisdom which will drive our strongest abilities —“at least those that last [as our true strengths.]” Just as happens with our other strengths, ‘strong learning’ will

  1. help us feel effective,
  2. we will actively look forward to it,
  3. we will feel inquisitive and focused while we do it,
  4. and afterwards, we will feel fulfilled and authentic.

And who doesn’t want those things from their learning?

Let’s talk story.
Have you been able to identify learning activities which feel strong to you? The way you articulate them as you share your own example is sure to help others identify theirs!

Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.


~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” ~
How do you Learn? Really, how?


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