Wayfinding to Use Your Best Clues

After much thought, made reasonable and immediately useful with a generous dose of “decide already!” impulsiveness, I’m declaring 2011 The Year of Better Habits. Want to join me?

Here’s the thing: I’m a big fan of goal-setting, I really am. However I’m also a fan of not forcing it, and letting goals simmer some before you declare them goals. In other words, I’m a huge fan of wayfinding, process tweaking, and enjoying the journey.

  • Goal setting — big fan. It’s good stuff when you can ‘begin with the end in mind.’ However it requires you have ample clarity with what that ‘end’ is all about. You have to decide, and you have to choose it, ready to take concrete action.
  • Forcing it — not a fan. When I feel I’m forcing something, my gut level intuition will ask, “What’s your rush?” suspecting that my clarity isn’t clear at all, and I’m trying to put the proverbial cart before the horse.
  • Wayfinding — HUGE fan. Wayfinding is Nānā i ke kumu; it’s “look to the source” and the grounding Sense of Place stuff that will cause you to Ho‘ohanohano; conduct yourself with dignity and distinction along the way. Those are two heavy hitters as far as our Managing with Aloha values go; they merge to help define and brand your Alaka‘i self-leadership.

“How do we tell direction? We use the best clues that we have.”
— Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson
[I’ll add a footnote giving you the full context of this quote.]

From a universal perspective, wayfinding is similar to the Chinese Tao, ‘The Way.’ Here’s a juicy bit from The Spirit of The Chinese Character by Barbara Aria and Russell Eng Gon:

“Originally, tao meant simply ‘a course of action,’ perhaps a military one: The [calligraphy] character combines ‘foot’ or ‘to follow,’ with ‘the leader‘ — a ‘head’ topped with the two plumes that were used in ancient days to signify the rank of general.”

“To Confucius tao became the ‘way’ of moral rectitude— the way we do what we do. It was Lao-tzu who interpreted Tao as the law, or truth of the universe, the oneness from which sprang the ten thousand things, each of which contains within it the law or tao of its own being. In Taoism, to see not only things but the tao of things, is to follow the Tao.”

Tao Calligraphy

So back to 2011 as The Year of Better Habits.

I don’t have the crystal clear clarity of a specific goal in mind (gasp! I really don’t), much less those “ten thousand things” springing from the oneness of the Tao, but I’m pretty clear about my wayfinding m.o. — how I want to go about finding my way. I know of the person I want to be. So my how has to do with the collection of habits I want to keep front and center as I do stuff all the coming year through.

On-purpose, well-chosen habits are generous helpers. With the company of good habits I can trust in the quality of my inputs. Then good begets good; my habits help me determine the quality of my resulting outputs. They’ve become a great success structure.

So if a great goal eludes you for the 2011 focus you’re craving, don’t worry and don’t force it. It’ll come to you in good time. Nānā i ke kumu; look to your source, use the best clues you’ve got, and settle into your sense of place. Start with the Ho‘ohanohano part, and cultivate the good habits which will help you conduct yourself with distinction.

Join me in the wayfinding, and we’ll talk story along the way.
Sound good?

Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou; Happy New Year!

Two views of the Wa‘a ~ the outrigger canoe

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Here’s the footnote I promised:
Wikipedia defines wayfinding this way: “Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people and animals orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place… Historically, wayfinding refers to the techniques used by travelers over land and sea to find relatively unmarked and often mislabeled routes.”

It is this ‘historical way’ that wayfinding has been most meaningful to me, and I immediately think of Nainoa Thompson who wrote the foreword for me in Managing with Aloha, and the wayfinding of his Polynesian Voyaging Society: Before the invention of the compass, sextant and clocks, or more recently, the satellite-dependant Global Positioning System (GPS), Polynesians navigated open ocean voyages without instruments, through careful observation of natural signs. As Nainoa explains,

The star compass is the basic mental construct for navigation. We have Hawaiian names for the houses of the stars-the places where they come out of the ocean and go back into the ocean. If you can identify the stars, and if you have memorized where they come up and go down, you can find your direction. The star compass is also used to read the flight path of birds and the direction of waves. It does everything. It is a mental construct to help you memorize what you need to know to navigate.”

“How do we tell direction? We use the best clues that we have. We use the sun when it is low on the horizon. Mau has names for how wide and for the different colors of the sun path on the water. When the sun is low, the path is tight; when the sun is high it gets wider and wider. When the sun gets too high you cannot tell where it has risen. You have to use other clues.”

“Sunrise is the most important part of the day. At sunrise you start to look at the shape of the ocean-the character of the sea. You memorize where the wind is coming from. The wind generates the swells. You determine the direction of the swells, and when the sun gets too high, you steer by them. And then at sunset we repeat the observations. The sun goes down-you look at the shape of the waves. Did the wind change? Did the swell pattern change? At night we use the stars. We use about 220 stars by name-having memorized where they come up, where they go down.”
— Nainoa Thompson

You can read more here: Modern Wayfinding by Nainoa Thompson for the Polynesian Voyaging Society

Ignore the Resolution Bashers

If the writing of New Year’s Resolutions inspires you, by all means, go for it! Ignore what others may think about them, or about the process itself, and do whatever helps rock your world.

Late December and early January is such a marvelous time to light a fire under your Ho‘ohana intentions. Adopt a word, like Joanna and Amy did, or fully embrace a number like Anne is doing. Resolve to start writing a blog! (Send me the link and I’ll subscribe.) This is the perfect time of year to unscramble and redesign your Weekly Review habit too; buy a new calendar with gorgeously glossy photos to inspire you, or one of those big wall-covering ones with plenty of write-in/draw-on spaces to storyboard out loud.

That reminds me” “I’m going to live out loud.” has always been one of my all-time favorite resolutions. You can make good on that one so quickly and joyously! Another favorite has been, “I’m going to give good company.” because it challenges me to be more interesting to people, and to give as the way to be. When you have repeaters on your lists, don’t tell others you’re “trying again;” tell them you’re recycling the goodness.

I’m one of those planning-obsessives who love tinkering around with these assorted New Year’s processes — all of them! So I don’t choose one as much as indulge in the pure abundance of them. With each turn of the calendar year I’ll look back, look forward, argue with the trends or applaud them, make lists (Tim Sanders just shared a great approach), choose words, phrases or quotes (and not just Hawaiian ones) doodle within my 9 boxes (copious pages of ‘em!) and I don’t worry at all about my own probability (if I’ll make it the resolution-distance or not). I’m more interested in possibility, and how my tinkering around with the process itself will trigger something in my submerged thinking, allowing that something to bubble to the top of my consciousness so I pay better attention to it, or simply have the moment’s fun with it.

I see green!

The whole experience of planning for the coming year is like the process of choosing a plump seed, preparing some garden soil, germinating the seed and then planting it. Come blooming time weeks or months into the season I might discover I got the seeds mixed up or they mutated somehow (“This is a vine? Really?”) but so what? Something actually grew because I attended to the basics, and set the timer on my irrigation sprinklers to water it!

And yellow!

So as some song had once encouraged us, let the sunshine in. Ignore the bashers and naysayers (or show them what they’ve been missing). Share your words, lists, resolutions, or whatever you want to call your Ho‘ohana intentions with people who will be enthusiastic and encourage you. You may find they also opt to keep you company in the effort.

Remember to Hō‘imi. The whole ‘process’ of Managing with Aloha reminds us how valuable it can be to put a positive spin on everything we do, resolutions included. So much is in our attitude, and we can be infectious. That’s you, the positive contagion!

Get a Jump on it (and on 2011!)

What are you intending to start, that you can begin today?
Ka lā hiki ola; it’s the dawning of a new day!
[Reference: Ka lā hiki ola is the Epilogue of Managing with Aloha, and the value of newness and hope.]

Getting a jump on the New Year
Jerry Seinfeld has his Red X, and I have my Green Checkmark…

It’s been walking for me (as in walking for health and fitness).

Early 2010 had brought me some immobilizing back pain. Major ouch and workout killer. Turned out my daily street running had cost me dearly, the pavement impact eroding away my lower spine’s disk cushioning. Healing has been steady but s.l.o.w. and my running days are over, but walking is still good and I’ve finally gotten the green light to ramp up my distance on a daily basis again.

That alone was fabulous news, but you know what made it even better? Starting yesterday, on the 28th, and knowing that a whole New Year was mere days away. It is incredibly sweet to work on a new goal EARLY, feeling the goodness of a fresh habit started with enthusiastic rhythm.

So what about you? What can you begin for 2011 today?

Are you someone who says, “I still have time”” or someone who says, “Why wait?”

Are you able to discount your own certainty?

For that is what it takes to be open-minded —and being open-minded is but the start of possibility in your bigger and better thinking, thinking your brain is fully capable of.


Voltaire said,

“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd position.”

Meet Dr. David Eagleman, neuroscientist (Link to PopTech2010 Video). I love speakers who can communicate as eloquently as Dr. Eagleman. Trust me, he’s a scientist you’ll enjoy listening to!

“90% of the universe is what we call ‘dark matter.’ That’s a lot to sweep under the rug!”
— Dr. David Eagleman

In his presentation, Dr. Eagleman presents possibilianism:

At 13:52: Possibilianism is “the act of exploration of new ideas and a comfort with the scientific temperment of creativity and holding multiple hypotheses in mind… It’s not that anything goes; anything goes at first, and then we import the tools of science to rule out parts of the possibility space.”

What’s cool, is that “…possibilianism picks up where the toolbox of science leaves out; it’s where we no longer have tools to address it [the magnitude of all we don’t yet know.]”

So why should you bother with this video at all? (It will explain Possibilianism in about 20 minutes.)

In the crush of the holiday season the year will turn, and like it or not, welcome it or not, we will all do a great deal of thinking about ourselves and the world we live in. I urge you to frame your thinking within greater possibility. Give yourself a gift, and let your growth in.

In his talk, Dr. Eagleman will explain that we must seek comfort with multiple narratives.

“This is not just a plea for simple open-mindedness, but for an act of exploration of new ideas. …go back into your world, and live a life free of dogma, and full of awe and wonder. See if you can celebrate possibility, and praise uncertainty.”

This is something you have to work at, because old conditioning can fight you:

At 6:18: You don’t need to be an anthropologist to recognize that our nervous systems absorb whatever our culture pours into us” it is not coincidence that there isn’t a blossoming of Islam in Springfield Ohio, and there isn’t a blossoming Protestantism in Mecca, because we are products of our culture; we accept whatever is poured into us, right? If there was one truth, you’d expect it would spread everywhere evenly, but the data doesn’t support that”

Merry Christmas my friends. However your faith got you where you are today, I’m celebrating the possibility of where we all have yet to go in both heart and mind.

Many thanks to Liz Danzico for introducing me to David Eagleman.

On the 5th Day of Christmas: Wonder

Wonder. To have an inner capacity that can always make room for awe and wonder is such a blessing. To return to child-like innocence and acceptance, to be rendered speechless, and have it feel good and right, never helpless. To not have all the answers but feel it is perfectly fine not to, to just have wonder.

How is wonder an Aloha Virtue for you?