This article has been updated, and now appears on the blog I write for Managing with Aloha.
You can read it here:
Thank you for your visit,
This article has been updated, and now appears on the blog I write for Managing with Aloha.
You can read it here:
Thank you for your visit,
I received a couple of emails following my last posting (Managers Create Culture), and taken altogether the gist of them was this:
“If I don’t have a comprehensive philosophy yet, like you have in Managing with Aloha, how do I start to define the workplace culture I want to foster as an Alaka‘i Manager? The variables can be so overwhelming, and I struggle to focus, and set my priorities.”
Do you know when those variables get overwhelming? When they aren’t actually yours. We managers have a way of inheriting and collecting periphery.
Here’s what I recommend instead. It’s still about articulating an all-you packaging of your values (which is Managing with Aloha at its core), but arriving at them in another way, one which concentrates on action connected to desired change and valued constants.
To paraphrase and add to a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi:
We talk about change a lot, equating it with initiative, innovation and creativity, however we tend to forget those constants we have already invested in, constants which keep us grounded, confident, steady and sure.
So try this: Sit with a blank sheet of paper, and make a simple list of your purely instinctive, gut-check WANTS, writing them down under one of two sub-headings:
Your list should describe your future. Identify what you want it to be, so those wants can guide you forward. Be as specific as possible, for specific detail is more conducive to revealing action steps you can take.
Your values will provide the ‘why.’ When you can tap into it, ‘purely instinctive, gut-check’ wanting gives voice to your values — you’ll be able to read between the lines, and get clarity on what your values are all about, and not theoretically or historically, but right now, for today, and for ‘Imi ola— a creation of your best-possible future.
This might help you start your list… Fill in the blanks, remembering to then choose which column they go in, valued CONSTANTS, or desired CHANGE:
I want to work on ______, and not on _______.
I want to forge a partnership with _______, so we can work on __________.
I’d love to see the day that we _____________ all day long!
I want to keep learning about _____________, so we’ll be able to _________.
Bet you can take it from there!
The first step in articulating the workplace culture you want is usually to be more selfish — yes, selfish, as in self-aware. Focus is all about energy management: Self-manage (channel your energy) and self-lead (create fresh energy) before you presume to create workplace culture for anyone else. It evokes the oxygen mask theory: You can’t save anyone else when you can’t breathe either.
In clarifying your change and your constants, you define your stretch while holding on to your keepers. You also couple your form and function without interruption (i.e. your on-going productivity and business of life), for balancing Change and Constants is simply a way you sort through the clutter of life, and focus on what’s important to you.
For instance, here on Talking Story you often read postings where I seem to question, dabble, and experiment: I especially love 90-day projects as a gift-boxing of my still-tentative change. When I wrap up those projects, I weave them into my Ho‘ohana Story somehow, for my constants are about Aloha (defined here), Ho‘ohana (worthwhile work), and ‘Ike loa (intentional learning). Over time, my keepers in the MWA culture became the 19 values in my book, and the 9 Key Concepts. The early sentences on my List of Wants moved into statements like the 10 Beliefs and Core 21.
If you pull out your list every time you do a Weekly Review, you can revise it with constantly freshened relevance. When something no longer sounds like a Burning Yes, just cross it off the list and add what does.
Trust me: If you can make this simple process your new habit, your desired workplace culture will be steadily revealed to you. And remember… You are Your Habits, so Make ‘em Good!
Your Change + Your Constants = Your Culture:
So turn this affirmation into a poster you look at daily:
I’ll be Change, and I’ll be Constant. I’ll be the Culture of my Future.
Write it on a post-it and tape it on the mirror where you brush your teeth each morning, then Ho‘ohana — make it happen.
I have a photoset on Flicker I’ve dubbed “The Ways of Work.” It’s rather sparse compared to my other sets on the photo-sharing site despite my Ho‘ohana obsession (Ho‘ohana being the MWA value of work) because I shy from taking photos of people unless I have their permission, something the spontaneity of candid working shots isn’t always that conducive to. I’m adding a few now though, because of several scenes I caught sight of in a recent visit to Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
As I upload them, I’m re-reading a book I picked up there as my souvenir of an earlier trip, and I keep nodding at the memory of what I witnessed a week ago, though the book was published in 1999. From Inside the Pike Place Market by Braiden Rex-Johnson and Paul Souders:
“Seafood has always been a hot commodity along Pike Place, where fresh Northwest seafood changes hands with a bit of the old, hard sell mingled with a sense of artistry and showmanship” like an artist concentrating on a difficult canvas [the fishmonger at Pure Food Fish] arranges the red and cream-colored Dungeness crab over a hillside of ice one by one. He culls the creatures with holes or chips in their shells and sets aside the largest specimens. When the first two rows are lined up with military precision, he sets the plumpest, most perfect crabs on top of the rest, their claws splayed skyward in a mawkish salute. ‘They won’t buy ‘em unless they look good,’ he reasons in his soft, gruff voice.”
And it strikes me: The ‘ways of work’ should always be this simple and pure, and we often complicate them far more than we need to.
To watch the fishmongers at the market is to witness concentration, precision, discernment and an assumption of honored historical knowledge, and yet they are so quick to look up with their sweetly sweaty smiles, and a sincere eagerness to engage with the people who walk by.
Customers are not an interruption of their work, but the reason for it. One of the reasons, at least, and one which happily coexists with their expertise, pride, and pleasure in the work they do. You imagine it can be repetitious, this work they do, but routine repetition isn’t what you see, and it isn’t what you feel from the vibe they share.
Pure food, pure fish, pure work, freshened daily. Quite inspiring.
How could your work, and the value of your work, become pure again for you?
You need not be a webmaster or blogger to have an About Page: Write one which is just for you.
I’ve been thinking about this lately, and of how it’s such a fabulous exercise of self-attuned and value-aligned thinking, because of three reasons:
To sum it all up, you can write an About Page too (or elevator speech, or Ho‘ohana Statement), to grab hold of your own abundance, and get it into more focus — “it” being the work you find you gravitate toward most of all. That physical activity of writing about it, will often turn on another tap, releasing very attractive thoughts about what you GET to do, and still WANT to do, and probably can. The work you enjoy is what bubbles to the top, just like buttercream does in milk — and like spirit-spilling does, when we treat Aloha as a value.
Write a simple page about your Ho‘ohana work that’s more like a letter to your Aloha Spirit, saying “I know you’re there, and I still hear you guide me!” in wonderful self-affirmation.
Writing about the work you love doing is value-mapping Nānā i ke kumu (Managing with Aloha chapter/value 17): You “look to your source” to thereby know your own truth — that whole, beautiful truth about who you really are… sense of place, sense of work, sense of liberating life design for best well-being.
We all know that the recessionary economy we’re still in has made earning a living a whole new ballgame. There are several struggles to overcome still, but let’s hō‘imi, and focus on the good ways we’ve been forced to make a change. We get to creatively reinvent ourselves in more liberating and individually-customized ways as we work within our means.
People are too big for jobs and always have been. We don’t fit into them completely enough, especially people like you, who have decided to explore being an Alaka‘i Manager.
‘Job’ will often pigeonhole us into somebody else’s preconceived notion about it, as documented on a ‘job description,’ a construct written for a business objective, and not for you individually as the unique packaging of the Aloha Spirit you are. So ignore the word, and any title you may have which is attached to it, because job is a too-small container for the wealth of working capacity you have — ignore the thought if you can, and focus on all the work activity you do instead.
Job is scarcity thinking — it’s a restrictive definition of sameness and uniformity.
Work is abundance thinking — it’s an activity-packed definition of individuality and possibility.
In my case for example, jobs like author, coach, business owner just don’t cut it; they’re far too general. I’m always trying to laser in to greater detail, and the marvelous result is that being more specific and descriptive doesn’t restrict me. My quirky qualifications actually help me see more possibility that I might have missed before, and I better understand my own niche and place in the world.
I’ll be tweaking my Ho‘ohana descriptions forever, always exploring and experimenting, always revising and refining. I fall in and out of love with the words I choose to describe myself, and I love that talk story opportunity I get when people say, “You do what? Tell me what that means.” It’s part of the fun of it all. Work can lighten up, that’s for sure, and be more playful and inventive.
Wikipedia is a great place to discover how some of the people you may admire most had actually defied the conventions of traditional jobs and forged their own destiny. Here are a couple of examples:
Martin Luther King Jr. “was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. King is often presented as a heroic leader in the history of modern American liberalism.”
George Bernard Shaw “was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.
Shaw was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles. ”
Always remember that motivation is an inside job. When we honestly reflect on it, we often realize that self-motivation is the only kind that counts in the best work we do. That’s great news when you think of all that energetic, pure-talent possibility inside you, just waiting to come out to play.
I’d be honored to be your Reader #2 if you draft an About Page for the first time” I know many of you reading this, and you’re a very interesting bunch. If I wrote your About Page, it would be absolutely impossible for me to describe you in a single job title, or even in a single paragraph! So for heavens sake, don’t do that to yourself.
Stand tall, and stake your claim with what you believe in, and thus, what you work on (another way to describe Ho‘ohana in English :) In fact, do feel free to use the comment boxes to have others in our Ho‘ohana Community meet you. How would you describe your Ho‘ohana these days, your intention with the worthwhile work which makes your heart sing?
Here is the “About the Author” write-up now in the latest draft of my D5M Playbook in progress:
Rosa Say is a workplace culture coach who is determined to reinvent our workplaces value by value, and conversation by conversation, making our working communities healthier and more rewarding for us all. As founder of Say Leadership Coaching, Ho‘ohana Publishing, and Writing with Aloha, Rosa is hired as a speaker, teacher, and coach for her expertise in values-based business management, and as a change agent leading organizational culture design.
Rosa is known for her work leading the Managing with Aloha movement within Hawai‘i and internationally, a philosophy which draws from her 30-year career in the resort hospitality industry and her current business laboratories in writing and coaching for a variety of fields, including education, medicine, governance, and land development due to her specialty of Sense of Place acculturation. Her ‘Ohana in Business modeling initiatives are focused on enabling people to achieve self-sustenance as the shared Kuleana of thriving communities — in her most passionate vision, ‘public welfare systems’ become relics of the past because people no longer need the crutches.
Published in 2004 as the first of her books, Managing with Aloha is considered a classic values essay which describes how Hawaii’s Language of Intention and Sense of Place perception delivers a sensibility in work ethic which can be brought to the art of business universally. The book is widely used as an indispensable resource for managers, for Rosa is their most vocal advocate and champion when management is courageously redefined for developing people and their human-powered energies. Rosa publishes the popular Talking Story blog, and the ebooks she writes “on managing and leading as accessible verbs” are published to encourage the constant curiosity, questioning, and creative energies of her Ho‘ohana Community’s learning conversations there — please join us!
Rosa lives on the Big Island of Hawai‘i and travels frequently in her passion for speaking with audiences of managers seeking to bring the values of Aloha into their work practice. Learn more about her current projects at www.RosaSay.com.