For 2010, with Aloha

Hau‘oli Makahiki hou ~ Happy New Year!

There’s no better time to ask these questions:

Will we walk our talk, and demonstrate our Aloha in 2010?

Can we do so with wild success and joy?

Let’s answer with a resounding “Yes!”

The year ahead is a clean slate, and we can have it be whatever we wish it to be.

Like I imagine many managers are, I have been immersed in strategic planning these past few weeks, drawing up detailed plans for what my 2010 business strategies will be. I am excited about what I have put together, feeling it will energize me, will serve others, and will express my personal Ho‘ohana (intention with worthwhile work) in a meaningful and rewarding way.

So now I am thinking bigger —about all of us as a community, Kākou (inclusively), and about what collaborative objective we could share throughout the coming year no matter what our individual work may be.

Shopping Bag Aloha

What I keep coming back to, is Aloha

I keep coming back to Aloha because I think it’s gone missing a bit too much, and I feel us yearn for it.

Aloha. Old word, as old as the Hawaiian islands. Time-honored value in theory; passed down to us from our ancestors in their  kaona (storied meanings), and thus, something we refer to as “our spirit.”

Can we make it remarkably real? Can Aloha become a palpable physical presence for us in the coming year, more than it’s ever been before?

It can when we choose Aloha, and focus on it

Here are some thoughts I’d collected when journaling, for writing helps me think things through with more clarity. I kept staring at the word ALOHA these past few days, talking to it, and asking it to be the spirit we talk about. I wanted it to help me feel what it might want from me. I colored it in, I doodled around it, I thought about what my kÅ«puna (elders and teachers) have taught me, and I came up with this:

A — Aloha…
We need a comeback of better service, person to person, with human graciousness experienced in every single encounter we have with each other. They are encounters where Ho‘okipa (unconditional hospitality), Lokomaika‘i (generosity of good heart) and Aloha (as an expectation of good spirit, even in strangers) combine, mix virtuously and nourish us.

L — Less will be more
It’s amazing: When we have Aloha present, we don’t need that much more. When Aloha is shared between us, it grows in an exponential way: It becomes more. It satisfies needs we ache to have soothed, and it heals others we weren’t even aware had started to hurt. We need not clutter up Aloha either, with caveats, rules and scripts: It is perfectly stellar on its own.

O — ‘Ohana
I have a favorite self-coaching (you’ve read it here before): Life is not a solo proposition; we human beings were not meant to live alone.

This enlarging of ‘Ohana is something I have had to learn, and it remains something I have to better learn every single day. Let’s keep that kind of relationship-strengthening learning alive and well too; investing our energies in Aloha is not something we need do alone.

— Health
Of this I am sure: Aloha is a source of better health. When we feel less than completely healthy in life, we know that it is a red flag: Aloha has gone missing somewhere in that life. No more ignoring the red flag (and no more throwing in the towel). In 2010, let’s get Aloha healthy and watch it infiltrate everything else as the good contagion it is.

— Alignment
Aloha is an all or nothing kind of thing: You have to go ‘all in.’ There must be alignment between Aloha and all your other values. There must be alignment between Aloha and your verbs — all the actions you take, whatever they are. As a result there will be another ‘V’ — Verve. Vitality. Vigor. There will be the energy for everything else you wish to achieve.

This is my mana‘o, and I am happy to share it with you, however know you can do this in your own way too, and as Aloha speaks to you.

For 2010, with Aloha

“With aloha” is how so many of us will end emails, cards or letters, and sign off on much of the correspondence we do — I know I do; it’s been a long-standing habit; part of my Hawai‘i signature of sense of place. It has something we feel we are blessed in being able to write, and say universally, whether we live in the islands or not.

No more salutation without authenticity.

Starting today, let’s not write “With aloha” or say “With aloha” unless we mean it. However let’s mean it so we CAN write it and say it every day, and all the time.

You in? All in?

Don’t wait for someone else. The only way you get Aloha, is by being obsessive about being the first one to give it.

Hau‘oli Makahiki hou ~ Let’s make 2010 the Year of Aloha. We will get what we choose, and what we give.

Art Credit:
See more of this letter art at Daily Drop Cap by Jennifer Hische.
Mahalo for sharing it with your Aloha Jennifer!

Find Your Strongest Life. Yes, You.

This is an “Almost Book Review” of Find your Strongest Life, What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham.

I’ve read it cover to cover, but I’m not finished with it enough to completely review it, and that’s the point of this post. Explanation coming up.

Product Details: (*Affiliate Link)
Amazon Sales Rank: #13013 in Books
Published on: 2009-09-29
Original language: English
Binding: Hardcover,  288 pages

Whether you are male or female, let’s talk story about the core premise of this book for a moment, okay? You can find your strongest life, and 2010 may be your golden opportunity.

Why should you bother? Let’s go straight for the Managing with Aloha connection (I like thinking that’s why you’re here, reading anything of what I have to say):

Key 7. Strengths Management:
Keys 1 through 6 have put a great foundation in place for your business to thrive within: Together they have created the best possible launching pad for your organizational culture. Now we turn to bigger investments made in each employee, business partner, and stakeholder involved, so you can truly say, “Our people are our biggest asset” —and mean it. Cooperation, connectivity and collaboration evolve to optimization and co-creation.
— From The 9 Key Concepts of Managing with Aloha

As trumpeted on his book jacket, “Marcus Buckingham is the go-to consultant for people and organizations wanting to leverage their strengths” and in the process, make their weaknesses irrelevant. He continues to write books that are very useful to his readers IF, —and this is a big ‘if’ —you’ll go the distance with taking his advice and make his book a study, not just a passing read. You must be willing, and disciplined enough, to become your own work in progress (something you can do privately, don’t worry) while diligently following his coaching-in-a-book.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t do that. We finish a book, and the moment we reach the last word on the final page we feel just that – it’s finished. And so are we; we’re finished with it.

Sorry, not good enough.

Do savor your reading accomplishment and keep reaching for another book, and then another: Alaka‘i managers are readers for several reasons. However if you can’t break from that finished-without-study habit, it’s a bit hard to get from liking to loving this book (or any other non-fiction book for that matter, MWA is no different). You know what habits will do to you.

Buckingham seems fully aware of this challenge he has with us readers. Before you make it past page xiii (i.e. even before the Introduction) you can’t help but burn with a desire to prove his research wrong (valid data is part of his thing), and defy the sad statistics he shares about us women. I got good and mad. For example,

Ten Myths About the Lives of Women

Myth 1. As a result of having better education, better jobs, and better pay, women today are happier and more fulfilled than they were forty years ago.
Actually, the opposite is true. Surveys of more than 1.3 million men and women reveal that women today are less happy relative to where they were forty years ago, and relative to men.

Myth 2. Women become more engaged and fulfilled as they get older.
No, men do. According to a forty-year study of forty-six thousand men and women, women begin their lives more satisfied than men and then gradually become less satisfied with every aspect of their lives— marriage, finances, things they own, even family.

Hopefully, you male managers don’t want these truths to be self-evident in the women within your workplace either.

I suspect I liked Find your Strongest Life to the degree I did, recommending it to a few people before I was halfway through it, because it was so much in alignment with Buckingham’s previous work, and it was sequential. It reinforced my prior strengths management studies with him. I’ve been a big Marcus Buckingham fan, have seen him speak and have met him, and I have read everything he has written. I study his books near obsessively, comforted by his research methods and trusting them, and I have enjoyed being witness to how his own studies and body of work has evolved. Therefore, it is highly likely that I expect more from him because I crave more, wanting to see what he will talk about next.

I felt Find Your Strongest Life was filled with good stuff, and I relished what it contained, but I was left wanting more without being quite sure of what I still wanted —thus I continue to study it, and be my own work in progress. I’ve now read it through it completely once, and listened to it on audio, and my annotation/ journaling process comes next with a slower, second reading, syncing my progress with my Strong Week Plan and my Weekly Review. When that’s done, I will follow-up with a more in-depth review (as I do feel the book deserves).

Meanwhile, I want you to start reading it too. Then we can talk more about it together.

Still here guys? Hope so!

I decided to talk about this now, because I know many of you are doing your strategic planning for the coming year, and MWA Key 7, strengths management, is a GREAT goal for Alaka‘i managers to work on. Do it for you, and then do it for your team, being their empathetic coach. Enroll in Buckingham’s mission, for this is what all managers need to do!

“My mission is to help each person identify her strengths,
take them seriously, and offer them to the world.”
— Marcus Buckingham

If each Alaka‘i manager were to think of his or her view of “the world” as their workplace, we’d make a significant difference for so many people. DO commit to working on your strengths in 2010.

First time through, Find Your Strongest Life is a quick read: My recommendation to others, would be to plan on reading Go Put Your Strengths to Work, 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance as a companion to Find Your Strongest Life if you are interested in it (women) or instead of it (men).

Product Details: (*Affiliate Link)
Amazon Sales Rank: #3001 in Books
Published on: 2007-03-06
Original language: English
Binding: Hardcover, 270 pages

If you want to develop a new study habit with non-fiction books, and you want to simultaneously work on your strengths as you do so, I have yet to find a self-coaching book better than Go Put Your Strengths to Work, 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance. My copy of it is tabbed for on-going management training just as completely as my own Managing with Aloha:

Marcus and Me

School was never this much fun. (Sad, really.) Or this important:

So why not do your 2010 redesign in alignment with your own strengths? It’s a golden opportunity!

Strengths work, wherein you get better attuned to your own talents (and activities which energize you) is the easiest and best way to attain (or discover) your Ho‘ohana, especially if you are one who feels that “working on your passion” is too woo-woo and not pragmatic enough for you. In the process, you also get better attunded to your non-talents, and those activities which drain you: Strip them out of your business models forever, and have January 2010 be when you start.

*Footnote: About my affiliate links
Any income made from our aStore on is used to fund our literacy campaign within Ho‘ohana Publishing, a Teaching with Aloha initiative. We purchase books and donate them to schools and workplace training programs committed to teaching within Aloha value-alignment.

Get the Gift of Learning Throughout the Year

‘Ike loa ~ the Hawaiian value of learning

Seek knowledge, for new knowledge is the food for mind, heart and soul.
Learning inspires us, and with ‘Ike loa we constantly give birth to new, creative possibilities.
— From Managing with Aloha, Chapter 11

Great managers are lifelong learners. They discover they  have to be. In the process of that discovery, they want to be.

Number 36 x5 = 180

Each and every month, since January of 2007, I have reflected on my learning in a list of five lessons learned, participating in Rapid Fire Learning at Joyful Jubilant Learning. Takes me no more than 5 minutes, usually it’s less; a minute at most to write and reflect on each one. This month then, marks the 36th time I have done so.

I love looking back and seeing the progression of my learning, now 180 entries in all. Being part of the JJL community of learners makes it so easy, and so joyful, and often the learning themes there can be quite an influence.

For instance, these were the monthly themes at Joyful Jubilant Learning throughout 2009. They always start within two values: Joy (‘Oli) and Learning (‘Ike loa). They always end in collaboratively-spirited community discussions explored and savored, and with learning exponentially magnified.

January — Learning Joyful Eating
February — Love is All You Need
March — Our annual Love Affair with Books
April — Learning from “where we’re at”
May — Learning from our Habits
June — Targets and the Learner’s Progress
July — Communicating As Learners Do
August — Summer Learning
September — Learning the Joy of 9
October — Learning from Birthdays, “Anyone can light a candle”
November — Within our Learner’s Toolbox: WRITING
December — Learners Return Home for the Holidays

The line-up to come in 2010 will be even better!

Give yourself one more Christmas gift before this holiday season of 2009 becomes but a memory. Won’t you join us there, and celebrate all the possibilities the value of ‘Ike loa can reveal for you?

Rapid Fire Learning | December 2009

Rapid Fire Learning is a good time to meet the community there, and immediately participate in our online conversations in a very easy way, one which establishes your credentials immediately. Simply, you are a learner, and you ‘say’ so by sharing your learning lokomaika‘i, in the spirit of generosity.

Great managers are lifelong learners. They get to be.

To get that jump, and to create the RFL learning retention habit with just 5 minutes of your time each month is quite the good deal. So what are you waiting for?


From the Talking Story archives: Our RFL Recall: Are you Remembering or Learning?

A Grown-up Christmas List for Alaka‘i Managers

My grown-up Christmas wish list for Christmas Day has just two items on it:
They are all we need.

Both are for us, for these are gifts we can easily share. In fact, they are better that way.

We. Care.

Christmas Bows

I like thinking of them as Christmas gifts under the tree, and as boxes we can eagerly unwrap, seeing and holding each one as an exquisite present, one gifted especially for us. Thus we value them greatly, knowing that our wanting has now been satisfied (at least in part) by our having them.

I like knowing that we will sit there for that moment of unwrapping and begin to imagine how we will use each one; that we will have a wide-awake dream right there, sitting with an open gift box in our hands. In our mind’s eye we will see what we will next do with our gift, and why. We will smile as we imagine being in our dream, feeling all the pleasure of it.

Honestly, I also like that we will feel bound by a Mahalo obligation to the giver too, and that we have to use our gift as he or she intended us to, and hoped we would, at least once. A ‘once’ which is significant, and impactful enough, that the having of that moment will get us to appreciate the gift more fully once again. We will want to use it again, and again, and again, and so we will. We will own it.

When that happens, we will no longer need a Christmas tree, or a festively wrapped box. Our gifts will be extraordinary on their own now, for we completely “get” them. We know that we, and our decisions to act, and to have, are the gifts which were really in those gift boxes.

In one box: We. Acting together to get better work done as Alaka‘i managers; those who live, work, manage and lead with Aloha, and who speak the “language of we.”

In the second box: Caring. Caring enough to take those actions, actions learned within our shared values. We never wait for someone else to do what we can do, and we do it for an “us” as our reason.

I hope that Hawaiian slang of ‘ainokea’ is a word I never, ever hear again. I hope it is a word we stop thinking about at all, forbidding it to creep into our consciousness in any way whatsoever.

We is the value of Kākou

The “We” gift is self-indulgent, and openly so, because it IS a shout-out and desire for more Alaka‘i managers, and they are those I choose on my team. However, I also say I am happy to share, because I am so sure of this couplet:

a) Life is not meant to be a solo proposition, and we can team up exceptionally for stellar results. We must choose to.
b) Alaka‘i managers matter in our world, for they create the cultures in which that teaming will happen. They are the stewards of work culture.

Many too many days within my management career were spent in solo, independent work, and sometimes I did prefer it that way. I got rather stubborn about only doing it alone, all by myself. But eventually I came to realize that my biggest and best achievements came when I had teammates at my side. Kākou (inclusiveness) and Lōkahi (collaborative harmony) are values I honor today, but I had to learn them, and I had to learn how to get comfortable with living them within my own skin (and Aloha spirit/gut-centeredness) as the person I am.

That is the wide-awake dream I see: We-bound, bundled up together yet all comfortable in our own skins, and in our own personal sense of Aloha, feeling a significant win of some kind that we share with our families, our friends, our teams, and our communities. Wins we count within our ‘Imi ola legacies (‘Imi ola is creating our best possible life).

More about that “win” in a moment, but first, more about our second gift.

Care is the value of Mālama

When you first read this, you may have thought of Kuleana, the value of responsibility:

In the second box: Caring. Caring enough to take those actions, actions learned within our shared values. We never wait for someone else to do what we can do, and we do it for an “us” as our reason.

Most certainly, Kuleana will be a factor, but later. I believe that Mālama must come first, to start the chain reaction of events which gives Kuleana a better foundation to then take its turn with. Mālama you see, is itself fortified with another value: Mahalo, living and working within thankfulness for all the elements which make life most precious to us (and not just any life, but an ‘Imi ola life):

Honestly, I also like that we will feel bound by a Mahalo obligation to the giver too, and that we have to use it as he or she intended us to, and hoped we would, at least once.

Caring must have an expression of some kind if it is to be effective in some way, and if it is to be rewarding for us. There is the caring which is purely emotional, however that is closer to empathy, and being able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, feeling whatever they feel. While admirable, empathy is not big enough to be in our Christmas box: Mālama caring is bigger. Mālama caring is better.

For many people, Mālama caring is also easier. Empathy is much harder for many us; it is closer to an inherent talent we either have or don’t have. Caring is more universal, for everyone can care: It is a choice. A choice more easily made, when:

A ‘once’ which is significant, and impactful enough, that the having of that moment will get us to appreciate the gift more fully once again. We will want to use it again, and again, and again, and so we will.

Mālama caring is a stewardship which begs action. We cannot help ourselves but to act; we cannot stop at empathy and purely emotional thinking and feeling. We must connect it to a physical involvement of some kind, using more of our palena ‘ole capacities (Palena ‘ole is without limits. More about it here: Is it Time for Your Alaka‘i Abundance?)

Because Mālama is the driver, we don’t think about ourselves as independently: We pursue an “us” result.

Mālama Kākou: We are healthy

Will we be sharing these Christmas gifts tomorrow? Are you brave enough, bold enough, committed enough as an Alaka‘i manager to write, “We, within Kākou” and “Caring, within Mālama” on two slips of Christmas wrapping, tucked into your stocking to remember, and reopen Christmas Day as your gift? Then, when Christmas Day 2009 is but a memory, are you ready to lead, and ready to manage?

Leading is an energy-creating “verb x30” which Alaka‘i managers commit to: How are you leading today?
Managing is an energy-channeling “verb x70” which Alaka‘i managers commit to: How are you managing today?

More: Reduce your Leadership to a Part-time Gig in 2010

This is how I answer the “To what end?” and “Why bother?” questions for me, and I hope you will answer them for you, in your own words too. Mālama Kākou: We are healthy.

A year from today, I want to arrive at Christmas Eve in 2010 as more healthy and fit in many pleasingly shared ways. I want my team, my family and friends, and my community to be more healthy and fit too, in that:

  • We are financially stable, more secure, more self-sufficient because we have each acted to clean up our business models, both for the ‘business of life’ and our business of commerce and Ho‘ohana job creation. Why? Because We Care.
  • We are committed to each other, to the quality of our lives universally, and to a future where all of us are happier and much more optimistic than we are today. Why? Because We Care.

We never think or say ‘ainokea’ ever again, because there is no reason to. We thrill to the Aloha living of ‘Imi ola.

I believe that Kākou and Mālama are the values for 2010 which will get us there twelve months from now. It could happen even sooner. Tomorrow, because we care, let’s give these values, and let’s receive them well.

Mele Kalikimaka, e Hau‘oli Makahiki hou,
with my Aloha to all of you; to all of the “we” in “us”

sayalakai_rosasay My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Thursday I write a management posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at Hawai‘i’s newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser. Here is the link to the original article there: A Grown-up Christmas List for Alaka‘i Managers.