October’s Ho‘ohana: Sweet Closure

Welcome to the first day of October. It will be 2010 a very short 3 months from now: Wouldn’t you like to greet the New Year with wild enthusiasm and unbridled optimism?

We all would. Setting the stage for that possibility can be the best Christmas gift a manager can give us in the workplace. It can be the best gift we give ourselves.

Let’s ho‘ohana, and make that happen.


Today’s posting is a fresh-for-2009 revision of an essay I had written for the Ho‘ohana Community back in 2005 with the same title: October’s Ho‘ohana: Sweet Closure. In the years since, it has become an annual October theme for me, rooted in an extensive audit of my own self-management practices. As you know, I believe we have no right to manage others if we do not continually work on our self-management and self-leadership. October is a kind of palena ‘ole container for me; it frames my annual Ho‘ohana audit.

Palena ‘ole is unlimited capacity, and I push myself to stretch, diversify, shift, or reinvent [MWA Key 9]. However with the holidays coming ma‘alahi is my balancing influence: A beautiful and wise coach, ma‘alahi is simplicity and ease, and the persuasion of calm.

If I present another project study or value of the month for our community I do both concurrently (we invest in annual learning joys at JJL this month: “Anyone can light a candle”) because the background music of “Sweet Closure” has been so effective in coaching me to end the year well, living the last quarter of our calendar within the value of ‘Imi ola, seeking life in its highest form, and creating my own destiny.

Our Alaka‘i Language of Intention

Your destiny need not be a faraway forever after: It can be as soon as January 1st. Depending on your own Sweet Closure Ho‘ohana, perhaps it can arrive even sooner. In years I am very ambitious and can trim away all other clutter, I shoot for Thanksgiving —I’m going to do that this year. Here are quick definitions to set our Language of Intention [MWA Key 5]:

Alaka‘i: The Hawaiian value of leadership.

Ho‘ohana: The Hawaiian value of intention applied to worthwhile work, with ‘work’ defined as whatever you wish to achieve (work is a bigger word than job, and includes it). When you decide on what your Ho‘ohana will be, whether for the coming months or as a new career path, your intention becomes purposeful, and it creates clear focus for your attentions. Passion becomes practical and achievable. Choosing Ho‘ohana as a personal value is a way to work on your self-leadership coaching.

Sweet Closure:
Our Ho‘ohana goal for the month of October. First: designing our Sweet Closure action plan for the last quarter of the year, and Second: coming to a sweet closure of the year by working our plan. As the words imply, we Ho‘ohana to bring whatever is pending or outstanding for us as 2009 initiatives or influences to a Sweet Closure we define.

Our ‘Why Bother?’ is equally sweet: When the New Year arrives, we are grounded in our freshly audited self-management practices, and we are ready to lead with Alaka‘i, by merit of our Ho‘ohana-clarified self-leadership practices.

Shall we begin?

Yes, this is a longer posting today, and more of an essay. However you have more than enough time, way more: You will not hear from me again until next week Tuesday, October 6th. (Sorry, no #FridayFlash this week.) If I slip in another Talking Story posting it will be a shortie to keep us inspired, as I do at times with photos or quotes.

Photo Credit: Merlin Mann at Inbox Zero

Here’s your first reality check: Will you start now, beginning October’s Ho‘ohana of Sweet Closure in a magnificent way, or will you procrastinate? Will you commit to your Sweet Closure and to the community-minded Aloha here to support and encourage you?

I hope you will read, and take some quiet time to begin the design of your own Sweet Closure plan. For if you do, we Ho‘ohana kākou, together.

“And that my friend, is closure.”

There was this wonderful episode of the sitcom Friends that ran during the height of that time the show’s writers had much of the country yearning for Rachel and Ross to get together; let’s see if you remember it. (By the way, I have searched for this clip on the web unsuccessfully: If you find it, please let me know!)

Rachel was in a restaurant on a date with someone new, and her trials and tribulations with Ross were all she could think about —and talk about. She so wanted to be over it, but she just wasn’t. Her poor date was torn between being there for her and figuring out how to make a beeline for the nearest exit. He was perfectly cast as the suffering date. With few lines to say, his facial expressions said everything we needed to know in reading his mind as he listened to his very lovesick companion.

Finally, an increasingly tipsy Rachel borrows a cell phone from a neighboring table and leaves a voicemail for Ross telling him they “are over.” At the end of her dramatic speech, she ends with the line, “and that my friend, is closure.” I have never heard the word closure used in such a delectably satisfying way, and that episode sealed the deal with me on the fascination I have always had with the concept — delicious, savory, relief-filled Closure. I love checking things off as done. Especially BIG things.

So here we are in October, the month that begs for closure in whatever you had hoped to achieve in the year, for let’s face it: November and December are mostly about the holidays to come, that seemingly relentless line up of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve and New Years Day. School breaks, holiday parties, gift shopping and a rapid succession of other schedule changes annihilate the predictability of your routine. It’s supposed to be joyful, but somehow it becomes a cruel gauntlet that wreaks havoc on any sense of normality you tried to get to until this calendar parade started colliding with your psyche, stressing you out. No wonder most New Year’s resolutions are rooted in nothing more but emotional turmoil.

Here’s our goal for October:
we are going for Closure with some key things we consider the unfinished business of 2009 so that we can totally and blissfully enjoy the holidays for a change. The holidays are goodness and light, and we should enjoy them, not dread them. We will allow October 31 and January 1 to be the bookends that they undeniably are to these holiday months, and we will be proactive about living them fully (i.e. gleefully) for a change.

No excuses. No obstacles. No contradictions.

Are you with me? The first and most important ground rule to October’s Ho‘ohana of Sweet Closure is that negativity and pessimism is simply not allowed. You have to think of those two downers as a self-sabotage of energy draining you cannot afford.

If you are an Alaka‘i manager, this is something you can concurrently do for yourself, and for the workplace you manage and lead: Use your influence wisely, and don’t you dare waste a single bit of it. Give your leadership as a gift to yourself, and to others.

Now if like many others in our Ho‘ohana Community, you just got into some new learning initiative in September, hurray for you — keep going! This is not a contradictory concept, for I’m not saying you only have the month to wrap that up. What I’m suggesting is that you choose some other long-standing battles to win. In fact, in doing so, you’ll likely clear the deck and banish more clutter.   Pick a major goal or two you’d set in this past year, and commit to achieving it this month. Check it off your list, and savor the delicious, delectable, soul-satisfying taste of closure with it.

If you feel you are resisting, face your resistance. If there is even the merest whisper of a “yeah, but”” in your self-talk, STOP right now and read this post again: Is it Time for Your Alaka‘i Abundance? knowing that “Yes!” is the only answer. The “R word” associated with our current economic mess is an excuse, and cannot be an obstacle. Is it real? Sure. Must it have an overbearing influence on you? Absolutely not. Must you overcome it anyway? Yep.

What Closure do you want? Get it on paper in these 3 ways:

I am very confident you can come up with your own Sweet Closure plan without a step-by-step design from me. I will offer you three tips with getting started: They will help you choose your closure targets wisely.

1. Identify Stressors

Sit for a quiet half-hour today, and do a mind-sweep. Write a brain-to-written-page drain of the year’s goals that are still open-ended for you.

This first step is critical: Believe me, writing them down and staring at them on the written page helps — immensely.

Now don’t go complete-collection crazy on me here; don’t pull out that list you already have somewhere else. This is an exercise in which I want you to rely on the emotion-messages of your gut, your intuition, your psychic RAM (random access memory), and yes, those stress levels begging for some relief, for closure. Just open the steam vent of your internal pressure-cooker: This is a way those pressures serve you well! They naturally prioritize the release you need in your life.

2. Include Wanting

Once the stressors are acknowledged, tap into the wisdom of your wanting. What would you want to achieve before the end of the year just because you want it?

People feel drained when they are called upon to do things that they simply have no desire to do. We adults play by the rules of the expectations others have for us way, way too much (MKIA sound familiar?). We deny this instinctive natural selection process we are born with — it’s called wanting. Think about your strengths for a moment: Similar to values, strengths are best defined as predictable patterns of behavior you gravitate toward because they’re natural for you. It’s kind of nice to know that one of the best things you can do for yourself is listen to that inner voice telling you what you want to do, for no other intellectual, logical, pragmatic, or perfectly sensible reason other than that you WANT to be doing it. Emotional, gut level instincts are rich sources of strength indicators and thus your energy boosters.

Problem is, we’re continually trained by others — our parents, our teachers, our bosses — to stifle those feelings, buck up, and be an adult — to try harder. Try harder at something you just don’t want to do, and you can bet you’ll feel drained, unmotivated, and uninspired. Complete Blah. Profound Yuck.

If others are confusing you about what you should want for yourself, don’t listen to them. Trust yourself. Let your instincts guide you: Succumb to those emotional feelings about what you want to do. Believe that your wants serve as your natural selection process aligned with your innate strengths, and add those things to your list.

3. Assess Should-ing

Minimize the should-ing on your list. Continue to just say “No” and transfer what you can to your Stop Doing List. I would love to say that all should-ing should not be there at all, but I would be giving you another should to deal with! This is also at number 3. because realistically, if a should-ing item is there as a true stressor, or a want you have a burning desire to deal with, it is likely to be the perfect Sweet Closure candidate.

Here is a reminder of what Should-ing is all about, from A Good Ruthlessness x3:

“Should-ing is a by-product of our cultural obsession with being well rounded and the prevailing corporate demand that we capitalize on our so-called areas of opportunity. This voice is powerful and persuasive, but you must not listen to it. If those activities make you feel drained, frustrated, or burned out, you should not be doing them, or at least not much of them, and not for too long.”
Marcus Buckingham explains that stopping should-ing is a way to stop your weaknesses in Go, Put Your Strengths to Work

Key in to that last phrase: “”and not for too long.” Set a deadline date in October for each should-ing to be focused on and put to rest once and for all ”“ bring them to sweet closure.

Live with your list for the next few days.

Play with it, morphing it into a design of some kind you will welcome as your companion through the rest of the year. Start to merge it into your Strong Week Plan, starting with the next Weekly Review you do.

This is the real stuff that being an Alaka‘i manager is all about.

You’ve made it to the end! We Ho‘ohana Kākou, together, and the Sweet Closure of 2009 will soon be ours.


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