You’ll Be the Company you Keep

And “keep them” or not, you’ll be the company you love with Aloha.

We have all heard the sentiment of my post title in some form. Perhaps our parents said it to us first, as they protectively watched us choose our earliest budding friendships, fully knowing how little they could truly change or minds; usually they’d make us more stubborn about it.

Photo credit: Reunited by leipiaf.geo on Flickr

You may have proved them wrong back then. Or, you may have had to admit they were right, as they smiled that “I told you so” look parents can have without having to say a single word.

Did you learn the wisdom of the admonition as you got older? Are you choosing well, when choosing the company you keep, whether they be friendships, networking liaisons, community associations or workplace teams?

And relevant to Alaka‘i managing and leading, how is this a management topic?

1st, can Aloha be choosy?

Now this may also sound a bit off-topic to you as my first posting since announcing my intention to focus on the value of Aloha in the coming weeks, for isn’t Aloha the value of unconditional love and acceptance?

Yes it is.

So how do we reckon with being choosy about people?

Aloha accepts all people unconditionally as our fellow human beings, worthy of the Aloha we then give, within the values-held belief that all people are good, and thus worthy of our love. And remember: If you are to receive that beautifully authentic Aloha Spirit from other people, you have to be obsessed with giving them yours first!

Keep this positive expectancy, and optimistic belief close to you: If people seem less than good at any given time, it is a behavioural issue, or an expression of where their values are at a disconnect with yours; they are not irreparably “bad to the bone.” Everyone can always return to a place of their goodness.

2nd, what comes next, after acceptance?

Beyond this foundational belief, we must be realistic when we think about what comes next, after our unconditional acceptance lays a good-attitude foundation. We know we cannot be all things to all people; we cannot possibly act on all our attentions with Ho‘ohana intention. (About Ho‘ohana).

This “what’s next?” intention is where our deliberate choosiness comes into play. Who will we align our actions with, for beyond Aloha, they share in other values currently within our Ho‘ohana’s intentional and disciplined focus?

Perhaps ‘Ike loa (lifelong learning) is the value: Who will we associate with, intending to learn from them? We know how much learning can open us up, and with very personal vulnerability, and we know we learn best from other people. Who we will learn with is a question that all who had learned at Joyful Jubilant Learning now wonder about in that context of online, community-based tertiary learning, yet it should be a constant choosing done by all who will be Alaka‘i managers.

Perhaps ‘Imi ola (creating best-possible life and legacy) is the value: Which vision and mission will we support, and lend our voices to? Which cause will we champion, knowing that it can add richness to our life and make some meaningful difference to others? What effort reflects the values we believe in, and also want to be known for, today and after we leave this earth?

This train of thought echoes something Dave Rothacker of our Ho‘ohana Community said in his comment here yesterday: Dave wrote,

I love your sentence Rosa: “Opportunities present themselves as long as I pay attention.” This paying attention part is half of the equation towards success. The other part is “doing.”

What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say

Your “doing” of everything puts up a kind of mirror of what you believe is worthy of your efforts. Otherwise, why bother?

Conversely, if your actions are very badly chosen, and seem a disconnect from your normally demonstrated values, you will cause people to wonder if you have changed course with your convictions, if you are currently paying attention as you should, or if you are trying hard enough. They might wonder if you’ve given up on something, or if you even care enough to make better choices.

What you do, will always precede the reputation you have, and no matter what you might actually say. Our reputation is something we earn; it gets awarded to us by others.

When Alaka‘i is the value

I must assume you have read this far, because you seek to self-manage well, and manage others as your calling. (Blog check: Is this Talking Story? Check, and Alaka‘i is the value of managing and leading well, and with Aloha.)

When management is your calling, and you’re on the job for the right reasons, you are passionate about helping people within goals connected to their self-development. You want to support, enable and empower them. You serve them as you teach, coach and mentor them to stretch, learn, grow, and get continually better.

The workplace basics you steward and foster:
Your team represents good people who always work with “good behaviour.” The workplace is values-aligned, and they are productive within it. Call this that basic of Aloha acceptance.

The choosing of “what’s next” for you both:

  1. Self-management, and self-leadership. We work on ourselves first to set a good example (live and work with aloha) and to inspire others (manage and lead with aloha)
  2. Good to great self-development: Ho‘ohana causes something to happen. You work on moving from consistently good, to the greatness you are capable of, Palena ‘ole, without limits and in all capacities (physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual).

And let’s get real: Managers will indeed choose who they will do this with. They are supposed to be choosy! If they aren’t choosy about it, they’re frustrating everyone else. The stars within any workplace are never content working with others who are apathetic, complacent or mediocre: Low performers bring them down, and drain energies.

When Aloha is woven through-out this progression as your guiding value, there is simply no way you can go wrong. Even when your results may differ from what you originally set your sights on, you have discovered that love applied within your work (your Ho‘ohana) has become a strengthener for you.

You’ll be the company you keep

This process, of applying the value of Aloha to where you Ho‘ohana, and intentionally work as a manager, is all about the managing and leading which concerns other people. It is something Alaka‘i managers work on every single day. More often than not, they work on it every single working hour.

But make no mistake about it: They choose to do so, and they do it, getting great work done.

Within this choosing, there are times you will make the hard decision to release someone from your team. Be brave about that decision when you know you have done your best in trying to work with them, for if you have done your Aloha best, that decision to release them is best too. You’ll be releasing them to a new and likely better possibility with discovering their own Ho‘ohana elsewhere; you’ll usher them back to their foundational good.

Photo credit: Light, God’s Eldest Daughter, by hlkljgk on Flickr

The release from obligation or an ill-chosen job is a gift when given with the strengthening love of Aloha:

Work gives meaning to our lives. It influences our self-worth and the way we perceive our place under the sun. Being great at what you do isn’t just something you do for the organization you work for, it’s a gift you give yourself.
~ Robin Sharma says “Be a Rock Star” in The Greatness Guide


    • Rosa Say says

      Thank you Paul! This is a key concept for Managing with Aloha, at the core of what great managers believe about the people they seek to serve. I think we all want it to be true, but we do need to remind ourselves of its truth when we’re in some of those tough issues which crop up; those times when there is “tough love” within Aloha.

  1. says

    Rosa, for some reason this topic has bubbled up a lot this week. As someone who has always been unconditionally in love with humanity, I’ve worked to drop the knee-jerk, lizard-brained judgment of others. Those closest to me know how open and accepting I am of anyone and everyone, which at first glance, seems incongruent with your message. That’s exactly why it needs to be examined more closely and I’m glad that you’ve prompted a closer look.

    None are immune to becoming the company that they keep. I have tried to help my children understand how tennis players strive to “play up” if they hope to improve. Similarly, I’ve been musing that those who move to a foreign area often unwittingly pick up the new accent – even if it’s one they don’t like. That’s why your message for awareness and selectivity are vital for living and leading ‘with purpose and on purpose’.

    As much as I welcome ideas that seem foreign to me, I’m always heartened to be in communion with one of shared values. I re-read this line from your post with such knowing peace: “where their values are at a disconnect with yours; they are not irreparably “bad to the bone.” Everyone can always return to a place of their goodness.”

    Thank you, Rosa…for being a springboard for deeper thought.

    • Rosa Say says

      Good morning Jeanne, thank you so much for what you have added with your comment; your examples are wonderful in helping us all think more deeply about how we can apply this train of thought so that it isn’t just an intellectual discussion, but one which does grace our life with day after day expressions. I am sure your children are learning much from you!

      As managers we often hear that advice to courageously hire, and otherwise surround ourselves with people smarter than us, and I like to think about that beyond their being simply “smarter,” and in terms of our abundant human capacity: I love the thought that we are capable of more than we can ever get filled up with, and that if there are any capacity challenges, that the good will naturally sift out the irrelevance – other stuff we have learned, but can pack away rather than actively keep with us.

  2. says

    Your title “You’ll Be the Company you Keep” made me want to read your article, for I have chosen to let go of some friends that didn’t share my basic beliefs. I’m so glad you got my attention, for you said some things that made me question my choice. I love the whole concept of Aloha – accepting people unconditionally. Can’t you still accept and love someone unconditionally and still let them go?

    • Rosa Say says

      Aloha Connie, good to meet you.

      I think so, that it is possible to “accept and love someone unconditionally and still let them go.” We can’t be all things for all people, and it might be that we serve them better by being apart, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we stop loving them.

      I like to think of this in terms of our energy, recognizing that others do affect us in one of two ways: Either they add to our positive energies, or they drain them away from us. Commiseration for instance, is a definite draining compared to when others fascinate and inspire us.


  1. Unconditional Acceptance, Nature and Nurture…

    In yesterday’s posting, You’ll Be the Company you Keep, I wrote, Aloha accepts all people unconditionally as our fellow human beings, worthy of the Aloha we then give, within the values-held belief that all people are good, and thus worthy of our love….