On D5M: Comfort in Listening, achieved when “We press on.”

Ricky Knue is a public high school teacher in Seattle, Washington.

She is also an Alaka‘i Manager: Talking Story readers will recognize her name, for she is a generous conversationalist here, sharing her Aloha with us in the comment boxes lokomaika‘i, with generosity and keen insight.

hipster grafittiRicky contributed to The Daily Good this past weekend, with an article which describes how she is using D5M, the Daily 5 Minutes of Managing with Aloha, in her classroom to support teens in listening. As teacher Dar Hosta commented in her 52 Mondays blog this morning,

“The result of this practice, as reported by Knue, are really qualities that we want for all our children to have and, as an educator, I believe that its benefits could far outweigh the loss of ten minutes of otherwise “instructional time”.”

It’s skills training really: Ricky describes the immediate effects for her class, truly marvelous in and of themselves, but she is also giving an extraordinary gift of practiced listening skill to every employer who will one day hire the students she now teaches. We learn how to be better humans, weaving intentional practice into our personal skill set, skills which will continue to serve us wherever we go, and whatever we do.

Here is Ricky’s ‘why’:

“Teens are quick to connect with each other by telling stories and passing along gossip via texting and social media.  But students have lost the art of listening face to face by hiding behind the veil of anonymity. They talk at each other (of course, we adults do this too). As a public high school teacher, I clearly see a need for teens to learn to listen intently.”

Please take some time to read Ricky’s article in full. She describes how she has modified our D5M workplace practice for her teens, while designing a structure that supports the D5M intent beautifully: Listening becomes a gift we give in cultivating “listening with an empty mind” so we become generous receivers.

Ricky also talks about how it is uncomfortable at first, but “We press on.” The initial hurdle is soon overcome, and rewards do follow:

“What I have found is even the most timid participant makes it through the process, and there is much more ease and less tension within the classroom. On a deeper level, as days go by, they also learn to remain comfortable in their skin and comfortable in silence.

As a result, not only do these students feel more at ease when presenting a final project, they also acknowledge each other outside the class room with eye contact and a smile.   This is huge in a large, diverse high school.   Students also come to learn that they don’t need to solve every problem they hear about; they just need to be fully present and inviting.   We don’t have to blurt whatever comes to mind, nor tell our own story.   We begin to empathize with others when they trust us and share their joys and sorrows, dreams and ideas, smiles and quiet times.   We begin to understand that listening is a great way to learn about and experience all life, and experience the joy of connection.

Modern society has very few role models for youngsters to emulate how to remain calm when uncomfortable, so teaching the skills of listening and being present in the moment with an empty mind is something I myself continue to cultivate. Ultimately, as a teacher, all I can do is support them in getting familiar with their own inner space.  But hopefully, they will also have the powerful insight I continue to come to: that listening to our own experience ‘now’ is the most powerful teacher there is.”

PCA119 - Hide and Sheek!

In my years of experience coaching the D5M practice, “We press on.” is the key most managers must discover. They give up too soon instead of dealing with the discomfort that occurs naturally at first.

Ricky is the linchpin in getting this to work for her and her students: There must be a mentor, an encourager, a supporter — someone with the Aloha intention of an Alaka‘i Manager — leading the way if D5M is to gain traction.

Let that someone be you, too.

If you have a story about the Daily 5 Minutes working for you, please share it with us. Write me if it’s not working too; let’s “press on” together (let’s Ho‘omau!) for the rewards are still waiting for you to discover them.


Read more about the Daily 5 Minutes here in our Talking Story archives:

  1. Start with the book excerpt from Managing with Aloha: The Daily 5 Minutes
  2. Then read: 5 Minutes/ 3 Values/ 9 MWA Questions
  3. You can find much more in this blog category listing, such as, Can you fail with The Daily Five Minutes?

Matchmaker, matchmaker, find me some Skills

Something we often hear in these challenging times, is that jobs are becoming available, but they’re ‘new’ jobs, out of reach for the unemployed who possess skill sets that have lost their previous worth.

Sounds to me like a presumption riddled with faulty wiring.

One values-based solution seems pretty obvious: “Matchmaker, matchmaker find me a match.”

And who will be the matchmaker?

In my mind, it must be you, who are the Alaka‘i Managers who live, work, manage and lead with Aloha.

Let’s revisit the foundational, belief-fed basics of what this means.

Aloha is the value of unconditional love and acceptance. Aloha elevates the human condition, exploring and celebrating every nook and cranny of a person’s knowledge, strength, talent, capacity and intentions, and thus, their human worth.

‘Unconditional’ means that if this is the value you possess as a manager, you cannot accept that there are conditions to the love and acceptance you give; you are a steward, advocate, and mentor of the unconditional workplace.

Now this doesn’t mean you have blinders on to the challenges you must work with. It means you do whatever you can to overcome those challenges. It means you create a workplace culture which is both healthy and productive.

More often than not, it means you groom people and help them grow, and not that you pick and choose among them, laying down your conditions. (You know this: Conditions and expectations are NOT the same thing.)

Do you recall the epigraph of Managing with Aloha?

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer, scientist and philosopher

The mismatch of job and skillset is a challenge, but it’s a temporary one. It’s fixable. It has fixes that are completely within the realm of possibility for you — if you doubt that, we have to revisit your calling as a manager, for again, managers are supposed to elevate the human condition.

People who want to work, and who hear that their skills have become irrelevant, are being deeply hurt hearing this, for no one — no one! — wants to feel irrelevant. We managers are the people who can help them identify their own gifts.

To make a good match, identify your best ingredients: What are you matching?

What I’m discovering in my coaching, and in several deeper conversations about this topic of “skills relevancy” is this:

What we often need BEFORE new skills training, is better vocabulary. We need a for-today language that surrounds the skill sets we value most in our current business environment. We need to articulate what we want, doing so more clearly and more consistently, and in the way that is strength-relevant over skills-conditional.

“They did not have to create a new gig for me. All they had to do was not hold me back, and support me in figuring it out for myself, so I could find my own answers.”
Managing Strengths and not Standards

Our requirements may not be that ‘new’ after all… because “the times, they are a-changing,” our requirements have gotten freshened up in some way. Thus our “Language of We” needs freshening up as well. This always happens when we grow!

When we speak with the Language of We, we often find that people do have the skills, or at least an at-the-ready foundation for cultivating them quickly, and all they needed was this aha moment, one you, their manager, have arrived at too: “Ah! We are a match, aren’t we!”

Let’s work together, in the way of Aloha.

Let’s expect that we will be unconditionally matched up, and we simply need to Ho‘o, and make it happen.

Alaka‘i Managers, we need you; get busy as the matchmakers, advocates, and mentors of the human condition that I know you are.

From the Managing with Aloha Archives:

What do the truly great managers of our world believe in? (See the whole list of 10 Beliefs)

1. Great managers believe that people are innately good; they must. Without this core belief and faith in people, great management is not possible.
For more: Unconditional Acceptance, Nature and Nurture

4. Great managers believe that all people have strengths which can be made stronger, and that their weaknesses can be compensated for, so they become unimportant to the work at hand.
For more: Job Creation Employs Strengths, Then People

9. Great managers believe it is their job to remove barriers and obstacles so people can attain the level of greatness they are destined for. They believe that “can’t” is a temporary state of affairs, and that everything is only impossible until the first person does it.
For more: When Learning Gets Overwhelming

Musical Managemeant: Adele 101 for Managers

[Not a typo. Read about managemeant here: What’s the meant in Management?]

“I don’t think anybody who’s vaguely conscious has not heard Adele’s songs.”
— Anderson Cooper (Video Clip)

Well Mr. Cooper, that would be me!

I’m what my family calls musically challenged. I appreciate good music when I happen to hear it, and I love to dance, but my music interests aren’t really enough to articulate; they’re sort of a mild, disengaged background awareness at best. I don’t have any playlists in my iTunes library; just podcasts and audio books. I played the piano when I was younger, and I can still do so by reading sheet music, but I never had an ear for it; there didn’t seem to be any talent inside me to uncover and develop. What I’ve always loved and preferred, is soothing quiet, and the natural sounds of my Hawaiian outdoors. Luckily for me, I’ve had other talents which thrive in the quiet.

So as unbelievable as it may sound to some of you, I just learned about Adele Adkins’ story this past Sunday. And not from watching the Grammy Awards, but by catching a commercial about her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, and then Googling “Rolling in the Deep” on YouTube for the aha moment of recognition; “Oh yeah, okay, I think I’ve heard this somewhere before””

I caught up quickly, for much has been in the media about her winning that prestigious Grammy trifecta of record, song and album of the year, and of 2012’s Grammy night as her comeback arrival from vocal cord surgery. What I’m mostly hearing, is about her story, and how her music poured out of the heartbreak of a failed relationship, one she can now look back on and be happy that it wasn’t meant to be; she has a new love, and she says it’s a much, much better one for her.

And Adele is extremely likeable, relatable. As Anderson Cooper gushed;

“What makes Adele’s success so extraordinary is that she’s unlike most other contemporary female pop singers. She doesn’t have runway model looks, doesn’t dress provocatively, and has no gimmicks added to her music.”

It’s all about her story is something I keep hearing about her, over and over again, and that her songs are so intensely personal to her. It’s easy for her fans to make those songs personal to them too.

That’s always the ‘it factor’ isn’t it. Whether for music or for science, for most anything work-worthy and meaningful, it has to be intensely personal. I doubt that Adele Adkins would call her writing, her music, and her singing her ‘job.’ We don’t hear her music as much as we receive it, and make it our own.

This goes for management too. Especially for managemeant. Pretty simple, really. If you want to manage better, you’ve got to make it personal.

Do you know what truly defines an Alaka‘i Manager? Not knowing everything or most everything about Managing with Aloha, but standing for something in the workplace culture you want to Mālama, and be a fiercely courageous steward of. Value alignment and Ho‘ohana managemeant has got to be intensely personal for you.

Like Adele, standing for the good-health breakthroughs in your workplace culture will make you different, and very, very likeable. It will make you successful. You will be a manager like no other. You will be the boss everyone wants to work for.

Adele isn’t the only one with a self-management story, you have one too. Call it your own Adele-ity if you want to, but do identify your own calling. Be willing to shout it from the rooftops, and sing about it in your own way, and like Adele, know that no gimmicks are necessary. You’ve got your Aloha.

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

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.