We see what we want to see

“We do not see with our eyes. We see with our brains” What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it’s not 100 percent accurate.”
— John Medina, Brain Rules
— and my Dad, a coupla decades earlier: Can you see with your ears?

And we feel what we’re meant to feel

“For too long, people have disparaged the emotional brain, blaming our feelings for all of our mistakes. The truth is far more interesting. If it weren’t for our emotions, reason wouldn’t exist at all” When we are cut off from our feelings, the most banal decisions became impossible. A brain that can’t feel can’t make up its mind.”
— Jonah Lehrer, How We Decide

Initially, vision can trump all other senses

Most people flying into our Keahole Kona airport here, on the west side of the Big Island, are surprised in a rather unsettling way. They hope they haven’t made a mistake.

The approach to the coast is fairly barren, and the airport runway is surrounded by the stark nothingness of black lava fields and ugly invasive fountain grass. The lava plain is fairly new in geographical measurement (1801); greenery hasn’t seeded and rooted in any triumphant way yet.

If you’re a returning resident, it’s secretly fun to watch the faces of first time visitors peering out the windows. You can see them thinking, “But this is Hawai‘i! Where are the coconut trees? Where are the flowers? Isn’t this the tropics?”

It’s secretly fun because you know what will happen: We who live here are happy for them, and for the experiences we know they’ll soon have.

I always want to tell them, “You’ll see, just be patient.”

And I want to coach them: “Once we land, be a courageous explorer. Go off the beaten track, and get lost in the feelings here. Converse with the locals, and ask them to share their aloha with you. Talk story. Share yours too.”

Swirling turbulence

To us, this landscape is beautiful. It’s not barren at all. As the maxim goes, “Looks are deceiving.”

The Big Island is the kind of place you have to explore further, so you can learn about it more fully. Once you do, feelings tug pretty quickly, and quite deeply. You fall in love, and you fall in love hard. To do otherwise doesn’t seem possible.

But that’s okay, for you no longer want it to be otherwise. Feeling deeply is wonderful.

It’s the same thing as when you feel the Calling of Alaka‘i Managemeant.

You’ve got to explore that calling, digging deeper, and allowing it to get personal.
You’ve got to make connections with the people who surround you — especially with those you work with, and doubly, triply so with those you are supposed to ‘manage.’

If you can open up, and allow yourself to get a little vulnerable, you discover all kinds of things in the partnerships you create.

Thank you for reading Talking Story. If this sounds good to you, you’re in the right place. Start digging for the calling of Alaka‘i here, and for managemeant here. You need not go too far back.

You might like this one too: The instinctive, natural selection of wanting

Purchase Managing with Aloha at Amazon.com in hardcover, or in the Kindle Store.

The Aloha “of great value” which is February 14th

Preface: I originally posted this on February 14, 2005, my first Valentines Day blogging, and I now reread it each year, for I need reminders as much as anyone else; I too need those gentle helps which keep me growing into a better person. The trace on my digital calendar is linked to this page, and says, “Be good to your family, and read this again – read it EARLY!” for my favorite on the list is the morning rebooting one, which says, “Close your eyes, and wake up all over again – in a great mood.”

We don’t need to buy anything for Valentines Day (sorry retailers, but even you know it’s true)… we need to be a Valentine. As Henry David Thoreau so keenly observed, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a human being to elevate their life by conscious endeavor.”

If a flower were a firecracker

Happy Valentines Day!

In my humble opinion, this is a day we take too much for granted, or just let slip by us. I’ve been the guiltiest of us all in this, and I’m trying my best to make up for lost time.

In Hawaii, there is a phrase which you will often hear in songs and chants:

He waiwai nui ke aloha, ‘o ka‘u nō ia e pÅ«lama nei.
Love is of great value, it is what I do cherish.

On this Valentines Day, I’d urge you to think of everyone you love and care for, and not just the one you may be romantically involved with. Those you love, and who love you, don’t need chocolate or flowers from you, they want the simpler things which are very easy for you to give — things that will do wonders for you too, for there’s only one way to pull off the suggestions on this list: You must tap into the goodness of your Aloha Spirit.

Close your eyes, and wake up all over again – in a great mood.
Choose to wear something they gave you for Christmas, or your last birthday. Display that funky gift on your desk.
Don’t rush, be patient. For today, let it be okay to interrupt you, and be interested, be curious and intrigued.
Let them go first.
Let them go last.
Give a sincere compliment about how they look today. Better yet, notice what they do.
Admire something they said, and share a comment which elevates it.
Ask for their advice.
Talk about a good memory you have of another time spent with them. Say thank you for it, again.
Call your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, your son, your daughter, your best friend.
Make a date to spend more time with them next week. Clear your calendar so there will be no way to miss it or forget it.
Do a chore for them when it’s not your turn, but theirs, with no word said to call attention to it.
Keep a promise
you’ve made. Make another one you know is important to them.
Hug them.
Smile at them, laugh with them.
Kiss their cheek. Hold their hand.
Share a dream or secret just with them.
Let them know its okay to be silly, or make a mistake, because you’ll be there for them.
Write a few mushy words of caring somewhere they are sure to see it.
Go home on time. Better yet, get home before they do.
Be completely present and open to possibility. No screens: Skip the idle channel, web, and dial surfing and turn off your phone.
Watch whatever they want to watch, listen to whatever they want to listen to, and stay in the same room with them.
Cook for them, clean for them.
Sing to them.
Read to them and tuck them in.
Do not allow a single negative, unkind or uncaring word to escape your lips.
Give them your permission before they have to ask you for it.
Radiate your joy, and be fun to be around. Be happy because that’s how the people who love you will love seeing you.

Don’t expect anything in return, and enjoy being someone who loves, wanting nothing but the chance to set that example.

“Managing with Aloha” is not enough today: Live with Aloha.

I know it’s a weekday, however I’d guess that the normal intensity you bring to work can wait for tomorrow. If the people you work with think differently, be a leader and consider this: they want someone braver than they are to show them the way; they need your good example. Today is Valentines Day, and it only happens once a year. You have the best excuse today for wearing your heart on your sleeve.

He waiwai nui ke aloha, ‘o ka‘u nō ia e pÅ«lama nei.
Me ke aloha pumehana,

Weeping Bottle BrushFrom 2011:
A Valentine of Aloha ~
Love can be a hard concept to wrap your arms around at work, but respect isn’t.

From 2010:
Valentines Day is Aloha Blooming ~
See the comments: Anne asked, “How do you say Happy Valentines Day in Hawaiian?”

And for ALL of 2012:
An Aloha Business for 2012 ~
Allow the “Aloha attitude” of Valentines Day to forge your commitment to year-long value alignment.

Ubiquitous platitude and ultimate backwater

It is the most ubiquitous platitude of corporate life: “People are our most important asset.”

Book, Ball and Chain
Book, Ball and Chain by Kurtis J. Garbutt, on Flickr

The undeniable reality of course, is that the human side of enterprise remains the ultimate backwater. It’s the last item on most CEOs’ list of strategic priorities. It’s where mediocre executives go when they can’t cut it in the “real” parts of the organization. Be honest: how many companies do you know that are as creative, as disciplined, as businesslike about the people factor in business as they are about finance, engineering, and marketing?
— William C. Taylor and Polly LaBarre in Mavericks at Work

So what can we do about this?

I remain convinced that the role of the manager must change: The Reconstructed, Rejuvenated, Newly Respected, and Never Underestimated Role of the Manager

We chip away at it, but we have yet to tackle it as an all-out campaign, elevating the role of the manager once and for all.

Will you be our champion in your company?

Aloha! Just joining us?

Talking Story is the blog home of those who are learning to be Alaka‘i Managers — those committed to managing and leading with Aloha. Read a preview of the book which inspired this movement, and visit our About Page.

Talking Story with Rosa Say

Hello? These are your values speaking.

Can you hear me now?

“Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies.
It happens when society adopts new behaviors.”
— Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody

The past few days represent a learning time in our personal history on the earth. It’s almost impossible not to notice, and somehow participate in, the aftermath of our receiving the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. wartime mission.

I used that word ‘receiving’ intentionally. We don’t just ‘hear’ news like this, we receive it somehow, each in our own way.

I’ve participated in the aftermath quietly too, for it’s been big enough to spill into the new book containment I’ve created for myself in recent days, despite the intensity of my concentration in wanting to finish that project soon, and finish it well. I’m not one to seek a public gathering somewhere, and frankly, those celebrations have concerned me greatly, especially to see their prevalent generational signature of receiving. I can’t help but wonder what parents have modeled for their children, and how current history has been taught in our schools, for most of the faces I see in those gatherings were so young when Osama Bin Laden’s notoriety in our collective consciousness began.

They’re still young now. One of the things so fascinating about all of this, is noticing how our world shifts and changes bit by bit, big by big while we are right in the center of it.

I’ve participated in two ways, primarily; watching way more broadcast news than I normally do (and reverting to old lurking habits on Twitter) and taking notice of the reactions within my own ‘Ohana, fully aware of how one’s closest family can affect each other. I was so grateful to know, even without having to ask them, that neither of my children wanted to be anywhere near those public gatherings either. Are we patriotic? Yes, we are. We just choose to be patriotic (and more) in a different way.

Then, when some of the noisiness of those two listenings abated, I sat down with my private journal, the one I handwrite in messily, for the very physical effort that particular writing process requires of me. Sometimes my hand skips lightly across the page in this notebook, with pen almost looking like pencil. At other times I’ve pressed so hard I skip writing on that page’s other side where the embossing has come through, making it bumpy. Both effects are the result of different degrees of intellectual honesty for me, where I’ve answered for myself, “Okay girlfriend, what do you really think about all of this, huh?” and allowed my emotional voices out too.

I won’t lie to you: I’m not always totally pleased with my answers to the question. But I’ve learned to accept my own truth at that point in time. I’ve learned not to beat myself up for it, nor overly celebrate it when it is pleasing. I just accept it as is, as the next point I’ll move forward from. That ability to move forward, and my resolution to do so with a measure of intentional diligence, is what I want to keep focused on most of all.

Daytime Thunder

We’re all in a perfect storm kind of time, but it’s one which comes with some quiet if you choose to step into it. It’s perfect for self-reflection and listening to your personal values talk to you. It’s a time to tell yourself the truth, and understand who you are at that particular moment in time. It’s a time to figure out what you’ll do about that knowledge.

I hope you do step into the quiet of your perfect storm too. Just do it for you.

You are probably getting bombarded with all kinds of opinions. Feelings are raw, and at times like these, people need to be heard, so they look for people like you, who they feel close to, and know will listen. You can be there for them, but be somewhere for yourself right now too.

How do you really feel?

When we talk about the values-based philosophy of Managing with Aloha, people will ask me, “Rosa, how do I truly know what my deepest values are in their pure me, at my own core state?” and all I can say is that, “You’ll know. Trust in your intuition, and you’ll know.” The best advice I can offer them is to learn to talk to themselves more, so they can hear themselves more too.

This is one of those times, I think, and I hope you take advantage of it. Listen to your own values, and receive them for what they are; you and your gifts.

Then, you can decide what you’d like to do about that.

No matter what they’ve been about, all these historical moments have that in common, don’t they: They become life markers we move forward from.

Ka lā hiki ola. Welcome the dawning of your new day, however you and your good values choose to define it.