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”
Rosa

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.

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