Huddle up: We’re Building Sense of Place

A few thoughts to connect to the character of your workplace”

“He built a park in the enclave — in what had been a garbage dump — because ‘parks do great things. If you put in swings, a soccer field or basketball court, you get kids and they learn social skills and motor skills. If you put in benches, you get older people watching the kids. If you put in tables, you get families having picnics, and later you get lovers who have no place to go.’”

— Sara Davidson quoting Ed Wayne, an American building community places in other countries he contributes to, where it is easier (than in America) to ignore red tape, not ask permission, and just get good things done quickly.

Share this quote in your next team huddle, and then talk about these questions in one of these two contexts:

  1. Building sense of place for your business — focus on building a park for your customer
  2. Building sense of place for your workplace — focus on building a park for your team

Better yet, do it twice, so you can cover both possibilities. Lavish on the new ideas!

~ Where is your ‘garbage dump‘ — that pocket of space within your place that can be pulled out of neglect or disregard, be re-purposed, and somehow beautified?

~ Where is your ‘park‘ — that pocket of probable capacity within your place where you find the ‘great things’ happen with most frequency or predictability?

~ Where can you ‘put in swings, a soccer field or basketball court’ (metaphorically) so that ‘you get kids‘ — the childlike curiosity and eagerness within which adults-at-work can also ‘learn social skills and motor skills’ anew?
~~ What will be those ‘swings, a soccer field or basketball court’ you choose, and why?

~ Where can you put in more ‘benches,’ for more observation, for more breathing/resting space, and for more conversation? Are there great places to sit?

~ Where can you put in more tables? How could you better relocate a table you already have? What can you place on it, or surround it with? What clutter should be removed?

Blue Chair Learning, Redux

The Next Truman

A hard job, the presidency. Of this, our country, and of this time. It is difficult to lead in any country in this time.

Harder still, it seems, when so much attention is paid to your efforts (and your non-efforts). So I wonder what we are doing about nurturing and fostering leadership that still grows somewhere within our chaotic system of governing, waiting for its own time to bloom in the sunshine of attention.

Thought about this when reading a short summary of the “late blooming” of Harry S. Truman (1884 – 1972). This was written by Brendan Gill:

“It is a commonplace to say of Harry S. Truman that few men have ever been less prepared to assume the duties of president of the United States. No vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt would have been encouraged to share official responsibilities with him, but Truman had a further disadvantage: He was a comparative stranger to FDR, who had discarded Truman’s immediate predecessor in office, Henry A. Wallace, because his political advisers had said Wallace was too radical and would prove a handicap when FDR ran for an unprecedented fourth term.”

“Senator Truman of Missouri was the product of the Democratic party machine in Kansas City, and his early life had been marked by a series of failures, from farming to selling haberdashery. Little was expected of him when, at the age of sixty, he succeeded FDR. To the general surprise, Truman proved to be a tough-minded executive, who quickly made his weight felt in foreign affairs: He approved the dropping of the atmoic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; he sponsored the Marshall Plan in Europe; and he dismissed General MacArthur at the height of the Korean War. He ran for president in his own right in 1948, against the seemingly more popular Republican candidate, Thomas E. Dewey, and defeated him. Two of his favorite remarks were ‘The buck stops here’ and ‘If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.’ He declined to run in 1952, retiring to his home in Independence, Missouri, and becoming in his seventies and eighties one of the most respected and best-loved public figures of his time.”

When you consider your own workplace, or even your own family, or the community of public service closest to your home, who might the next Harry S. Truman be? What is he or she doing now?

Might our next Truman be you?

Managing with Aloha and Our Community Learning

You may have noticed a slow down in my blog posting here. My family likes to tease me about my silences, happy to share their past experiences in living through them with me, for they knowingly point out that, “When mom goes quiet we all begin to lay in wait. She’s thinking too much… something has to give, and will bust through at some point of no return. So wait for it, but expect it and be ready!”

Maiapilo Hawaiian Caper

In your case, dear readers, I prefer to think of this, my current quieting, as Ho‘ohiki, keeping my promises, for I have been investing my time in the work it will take to do so.

To the right, in our Talking Story sidebar, I’ve had a statement posted, one which says, “Our next Ruzuku Challenge (my virtual coaching) will be scheduled in summer 2010: Watch this space for the announcement!” — that’s the promise I’m working on.

The Ho‘ohana game changing I’ve personally done in 2010 has been liberating for me, and I’ve relished having this time newly available as its consequence; time I can devote to this new project within my SLC curriculum with a highly intentional ‘Imi ola focus. My Ruzuku Challenge for you will be directly connected to Managing with Aloha, and I believe it will serve you well whether you have read the book yet or not. If you have been working with my Smashword’s books, you will find the course to be a good parallel and complement. My intent is to have all of our Talking Story and Managing with Aloha connections blend well, and this Ruzuku Challenge will also be a great starter course for those brand new to our Ho‘ohana Community.

And community is a key: We are so good together! The basic expectation to have with a Ruzuku Challenge from me, is that you receive MWA coaching within a group learning environment that is virtual, private to the sign-up group, and limited to the number of people I am confident I can be highly responsive to as your teacher and coach. Ruzuku is our web-based venue: Those who participated in our past Ruzuku alpha tests will tell you that their interaction with each other was just as enjoyable and rewarding as any new learning they received from me.

I don’t have an exact launch date yet, and am still working on a few things, such as course duration and pricing, however here is what I can tell you about my next Ruzuku Challenge so far:

Peaks and Values

1. The course will be called Peaks and Values and will help you “Verb-activate your life with the Aloha energies that come from your values.”

2. As the book reads, Managing with Aloha focuses on the workplace environment, and the responsibility of the managers within the working culture they create and foster. In comparison, Peaks and Values will have an individual, and personal focus.

3. You need not be a manager to participate: This will be a course aimed at your personal MWA journey of value alignment. If you have struggled to articulate your own Ho‘ohana (intentional work) in a balanced way, this is the course you’ve waited for!

4. By “balanced way” I mean a realistic, whole life way. Life isn’t only about work, is it. Our metaphor and visual for this course is KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u, the Hawaiian value of excellence and achievement, and the course will be structured to cover the 4 Peaks mentioned in that chapter of my book: Living, Working, Managing and Leading — all with Aloha.

5. I am still calling the course a Ruzuku ‘Challenge’ because we will challenge each other to up our game, and pursue KÅ«lia i ka nu‘u excellence. Our focus will be on the 4 Peaks as these specific verbs and whole-life activities:

  • Living — Live Life to the fullest: Feel complete
  • Working — Work to be Engaged and Accomplished: Feel strong
  • Managing — Manage to feel you’re “all together” sane, and happy: Feel contentment
  • Leading — Lead to Learn, initiate and invent, grow or create your Legacy: Strive to thrive

6. This is essentially a course about better goal-setting. Goals are important because they drive us to be purposeful (as opposed to feeling aimless or confused). When the course ends, you will not have fully achieved the 4 Peak summits (of feeling complete, feeling strong, feeling contentment, and striving to thrive as above), but you will be on your way: You will feel a greater confidence with the goals you have set because you are aiming in the right direction; ‘right’ in that it is value-aligned for you.

7. From what I’ve been hearing, I think the timing will be good for many of us. This mid-year point heralded by the ‘lazy days’ of summer bring two things: A necessary break, where we give ourselves permission to breathe, and relax a bit, but also a bracing for the rest of the year to come. We take stock, ask ourselves where we are with those New Year resolutions we’d set (even if silently to our inner critic of one) and then propel ourselves forward. With this next Ruzuku challenge we can propel ourselves forward together, and within the support of our Ho‘ohana Community.

Maiapilo Hawaiian Caper

So I hope this intrigues you. I am pushing for the beginning of August, so save some project time for me, would you?

One more important point:

8. I am designing this course to be completely self-contained: What that means, is that you need not have read Managing with Aloha as a prerequisite to accepting this challenge. This will be a time we can invite others to be our partners in learning without asking them to read a single blog post, or my 266-page book first as introduction. So start to think about who you would invite. Who would be an excellent goal-setting accountability partner for you?

July is fairly young. You can still influence my planning and preparation for the course, so let me hear from you:

How does this sound so far?

Let’s talk story, shall we?

What is the work you do?

Who, me? Okay, I’ll go first, but only if you promise to take a turn too.

I teach people about Ho‘ohana and Aloha.

As I do so, I work to maximize the grown-in talents of other people, helping them articulate their talents in a language of values, strengths, and intention.

Water Lily Pot

I am intent on making workplaces better, and by ‘better,’ I mean that they are healthier. By ‘healthier,’ I mean that all the people involved with those workplaces feel they are thriving within them; they can be their best.

I work ever mindful of sense of place; yours, mine, and ours.

I help others ‘walk their talk’ in a more deliberate way, teaching them to wear their visibility more comfortably, and with Ho‘ohanohano (the Aloha of dignity, respect and humility).

My needs are similar to yours, so I do for me what I do for you. I am constantly learning to invest in the strengths of my personal values, using them, and exploring them as fully as I possibly can.

I teach others about the things I know to be true, and I ask them to teach me about what they know to be true.

I keep my curiosity front and center, so it will help me listen better. I want to respond to others instead of preach to them, for I feel I learn best from other people.

I honor conversation as our best communication, sharing Talking Story and something I call The Daily 5 Minutes. These are my tools, yet they are also goals I share with you, for I work on them too.

I write. A lot.

Notice something?

Though it is ever present, and is necessary, a job was never mentioned in my answers.

Job is simply a fringe player to the things you really do. However job might be described on paper is usually way too small for us; too limiting. In organizations it can be censored in the politically correct way that usually isn’t specific enough, or passionate enough.

You try it. Write your own list of things you do from your source of personal well being, and not ‘by the book’ or looking at some page in your employee manual.

Then tell me: What is it that you do?

Oriental Nesting

Don’t allow your art to get smothered by your job.

Allow your job to express your art.

Moderns backed to the wall

What our world needs is you, and what you manifest and create.

Use whatever you have to work with.

Pot of Polished Pebbles

Expression can take different forms.

It’s the work itself that is beautiful, making the job more meaningful.


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Footnote: Mondays are devoted to Managing with Aloha here on Talking Story. I set out to write a professional business book, and I feel I did. What I notice, is that it works best for people who read it, and use it in a highly personal way.

There is more backstory to MWA Mondays here if you are interested, including an index of relevant resource pages: Monday is for Managing with Aloha. My Book Page is here.

On Previous Mondays, Pō‘akahi kākou: