Learning and Weaving: The absorption benefit of your Personal Philosophy


You see, hear, and read a lot each day.
You discover goodness, and learn all sorts of things.
And if that’s not enough, you share in what I write about here, or find and clip on Ho‘ohana Aloha.
How do you apply what’s most useful to you and retain it?

I’ll ask the question in another way: What is the Personal Philosophy you weave it into?


As a Talking Story reader, you know that my weave is Managing with Aloha, the value-verbing philosophy I’ve based on 19 values and 9 key concepts. Managing with Aloha has been an extraordinary gift in my life, serving me in several ways. I don’t pretend nor profess it to be the ‘be-all and end-all‘ — in fact, it’s somewhat the opposite: What it does for me, is absorb additional learning so I can quickly use it and retain it.

Here is an example of how I did this yesterday, as my commentary on The Five Universal Themes of Business as compiled by Todd Sattersten:

1. Clarity of Purpose:
MWA Key 3 – Value Alignment, and
Key 8 – Sense of Place

2. Wisdom in Decision Making:
MWA ӬKey 3 РValue Alignment, and
Key 9 – Palena ‘ole (Growing within your full capacity)

3. Bias for Action:
MWA Key 2 – Ho‘ohana (worthwhile, intentional work), and
Key 7 – Strengths Management

4. Openness to Change:
MWA Key 4 – Role of the Manager, reconstructed, and
Key 6 – ‘Ohana in Business (strategic form/function)

5. Giving and Getting Feedback:
MWA ӬKey 1 РAloha (as the foundational rootstock it is), and
Key 5 – Language of Intention (our communication key)

Creating a culture is creative, romantic, dreamy. But then you’ve got to give it teeth, and get it to actually happen. Third, you have to Ho‘omau, and persist in stewarding that culture so it will sustain itself and live beyond you or any single manager.

You can use MWA in this way too if you wish, or you could use another philosophy: Before Managing with Aloha came together for me, I used Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for nearly a decade, a philosophy which I would discover he’d based on the timeless principle called the Law of the Harvest:

We tend to reap what we sow.   “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny,” the maxim goes.

Scout Orchid

Usefulness is about Fit

When you learn something new, and you want to keep it close, and make it optimally useful to you, ask yourself, “Where does this fit in my personal philosophy?”

Ask, “How could this grow me?”

Push your thinking toward the value alignment (or concept alignment) that is evolving into what you truly believe, and increasingly will stand for.

Focus on your Deliberate Inputs. Don’t be too quick to move on and gather more. Dwell on what you just learned, and take more time to savor it. Think on it more deeply, and question it. Discard the clutter, and weave in the keepers. Take action in some way to satisfy your sense of urgency. (This is a good suggestion: Recreate whatever inspires you.)

One glorious day you’ll have Ka lā hiki ola, that ‘dawning of a new day’ where you realize you have your very own version of Living, Working, Managing, and Leading with Aloha. It’s your brand and your Personal Philosophy. It’s become your weave, for you’ll never stop learning, and that’s a good thing.

Palena ‘ole

You have way more capacity than you’re aware of at this moment, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual. Weave it into tangible being.

Learning (the value of ‘Ike loa) is a fabulous thing; weave in your ‘loose ends’ and see what you can create.

Tab it and mark it up!

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

Talking Story with Rosa Say

Managers, you need to READ

The more I read, the more I’m convinced that reading is a habit Alaka‘i Managers must cultivate.

You must. You need to read for your own good.

Reading is your window to the rest of our fascinating world, and the world is a wonderfully big, and varied place.

Management consumes us (managemeant even more so). As we dig in to all the details of our daily work, we tell ourselves to “focus, focus, focus” and we get isolated despite all the people who surround us in the workplace.

They’re in the same boat: Our company and its existing network insulates us in a cocoon of directed attention, and we don’t fight it. We may even be grateful: We feel it’s all we can handle right now anyway, and we aim to get better with whatever’s currently at hand.

But we can’t lose sight of this caution: If we aren’t careful, insulation will stealthily morph from comfort to incestuousness and isolation. We hear about certain things in passing, and we say, “When in the world did that happen?”

I can sense your heads nodding out there. It has happened to me too. Repeatedly. Still will if I’m not careful to prevent it, and reading has become my salvation, and my guarantee. It pulls me out of the fray so I can gain better perspective, and see fresh new inspirations.

The trick is to do it on your time, but be sure you do it!

A confession: I have a double standard about subscriptions. I ask Alaka‘i Managers to please consider email subscriptions to Talking Story so we can remain connected to our Managing with Aloha like-mindedness, but I myself have been steadily unsubscribing from nearly all the email subscriptions I’ve had in the past, or I filter them to a “newsletters” folder so they don’t clutter up my inbox.

This is NOT to say that I don’t read subscriptions anymore, for I do; I’ve cultivated a reading habit where I batch read them when I’m in the best frame of mind for consuming them with deep reading, curation and annotation instead of scanning or skimming. And I seize my opportunities for that very pleasing reading rhythm on a daily basis.

In that regard, I’m a better subscriber for authors, bloggers, journalists and other writers than I’ve ever been before. I’m an appreciative reader, and I’m a better user of what they’ve so generously shared with me. In turn, I share better too, with you, with my companies, with my family and assorted networks (like Tumblr).

Reading represents the choices you make, and the habits you have.

If you’re one of those people who’ll say, when completely honest, “Sorry Rosa, I just don’t read books, haven’t since I got out of school.” I’m sorry that mandated experience soured books for you, but reading covers a lot more ground than that these days.

Reading isn’t just about books, magazines and newspapers. And books? They’re a classic example of change in that category of “When in the world did that happen?” Reading this right now, and feeling like I’ve gone back to school on my own time, but in the best possible way: The Fall of the Roman Empire : A New History of Rome and the Barbarians [Kindle Edition, see footnote] — way back when, my teachers never had the option of choosing it for me. Publishing has exploded in variety and diversity thanks to the web, and printing has changed: What we read ‘on paper’ today looks (and is) remarkably different from what we read a mere decade ago.

Reading gets connected to your lifestyle, tools and tech habits too, and because of the curator you choose to be. For example, I’ve noticed that my RSS-reading on the iPad is very different from when done on my MacBook: I consume more on the iPad, but I annotate and curate more on my MacBook. I still prowl bookstores with a voracious appetite, but my in-store habits have shifted, as I prowl with my iPhone in hand, retrieving the book recommendations I’ve indexed in Evernote, or free-sampled on my Kindle.

Read lightly. Read deeply. Mix and match the two, and become more interesting.

The value of ‘Ike loa [lifelong learning, Chapter 11 in Managing with Aloha] is not just learning how; it’s also learning about.

You don’t have to consume all knowledge deeply; you can just wallow in a good portion of it, and let your proactive choices seep into you lightly” sort of like basting your character with a golden glow which helps you appear healthier — because you are.

CrazyThere’s absolutely no doubt about it: Reading increases your awareness in a multitude of ways.

It gives you the balance we call understanding and ‘reasonableness,’ for it helps you be humble (the nourishing food of Ha‘aha‘a), yet more confident, all at the same time.

Reading boosts your repertoire for conversation, and so it makes you a much more interesting person. And who doesn’t want that?

[See #8 on this list: Twelve Rules for Self-Management.]

I love history: It was my favorite subject in school. However I didn’t go looking for Peter Heather’s book, it was a radar blip I keyed in on, due to my habit of checking in for Amazon.com’s Kindle Daily Deal. It cost me just $1.99 — if you have a Kindle, bookmark this page and try reading genres which are new to you.

From the Archives: Deliberate Inputs

As electioneering ramps up here in America, I get very concerned about what Bill Davidow has called “Life in the Age of Extremes.” There is much ‘other possibility’ within the extreme polarity of being Republican or Democrat in ideology. We must all be working on our own Deliberate Inputs to interject more hope into life.

Being hopeful, can be a direct result of Ha‘aha‘a, the value of humility, and the way we’ve spoken of ‘finding decisions’ here at Talking Story: Can you see with your ears? How open-minded are you, and how willing are you to weigh the opinions of others? Much of it is about proactive listening, so you can choose to live with a greater confidence — it’s a confidence that you’ve uncovered and discovered the best answer, because you’ve gone looking for it. It’s cultivating an optimistic attitude which will align with your values, keeping positive expectancy in your life.

When it’s in the News, Alaka‘i Managers talk story

It’s easy to dismiss news media broadcasting today when you’re someone who feels connected to the wider net of the web, technology’s new apps, and social media. We consider newspapers and network television to be those old-school journalism Goliaths felled by our new-world Davids. They’ve lost a considerable amount of reach, and no longer track the pulse of our world — or do they?

Waiting Room Viewing

Broadcasting’s giants have lost market share and gotten smaller, but they still have pervasive influence. Fact is that millions of people still tune in to listen to what they say, and think about it, weighing in with their own opinions (and values). People will still reflect on the day’s news, and will often say, “Yeah” they’re talking about me, and about my life too.”

Those people thinking those thoughts are our people. Are we part of the discussion?

The current news of the day is a good example: Who among us is not talking about the U.S. debt ceiling debate (and what it means for us personally), continued joblessness (and what it means for us personally) and the huge drop in market confidence (and what it means for us personally)?

When big stories break in the news media, Alaka‘i Managers ask themselves, How is this relevant to my team, and to our working culture?

They also ask themselves, Should we be talking about this, and having more conversations in our own workplace on these issues?

More often than not, the answers are:

  • It certainly is relevant, and this is why”
    (filling in those reasons why are usually easy: Model Me This)
  • Talking about it can help, for helping each other is what we do!

If you are an Alaka‘i Manager, you are talking about financial health in your workplace culture right now. You know that we all need to talk, we all need to be heard, and we all need to make sense of all the profound change swirling around us. You are willing to be the person who is there in the fray, being there for your people, and making a difference by reaching out to help them. You are leading discussions, you are listening to what people have to say, and you are getting better connected to feeling exactly what they feel.

You are helping them help themselves.
You are helping them learn what they must learn (‘Ike loa).
You are helping them feel more confident about being part of your workplace, and your culture.
You are being ‘Ohana (as their family of wider community), and you are practicing Mālama — the care and stewardship of workplace assets, handled with compassion and Aloha.

In other words, you are Managing with Aloha.
You are Kākou-conversing in the “Language of We.”

For instance, in my ‘Ohana in Business, the water cooler talk today is about falling mortgage rates, and how more savings can be reaped from refinancing: If people can afford the points, residential loans are the best financing deals around! I want my people to keep their homes forever, keeping their property affordable: I never want to see them struggle with a foreclosure, or with paycheck-to-paycheck living beyond their means. Knowledge is power when market timing is illustrating smart moves to make.

So be the Alaka‘i Manager you are, and talk story.

Start with your ‘Ohana in Business (your business model) as the core topic you open discussion with — how is [your business/ their-your income revenue stream] affected by the U.S. debt crisis, by falling mortgage rates, by joblessness, by current consumer habits? Your people will weigh in, grateful to know you are aware and are concerned, and you will learn what you need to know most — about them and what they currently struggle with.

Financial literacy is ALWAYS a good, and highly relevant MWA initiative: Jump in and lead the discussion.

See it, snap a photo of it, look up its story

In doing so, you are sure to practice the value of Mahalo — appreciating those elements which make your life most precious to you.

You’ll also learn about a wealth of different things in the process.

Good morning Portland
Hayden Island river houses along the Columbia River in Northeast Portland

I’m getting reminded of this as I upload photos to Flickr which I’d taken on a recent trip to Portland, Oregon.

As part of my trip, a mixture of business and pleasure, I treated myself to a full three days of self-guided walking tours throughout the streets of downtown Portland, heading out any time the rain let up, with just camera and a pocketful of change for food and coffee stops   — and my raincoat, for it’s Portland after all, and spring seems to be quite elusive for that part of our country this year. Can you find me anywhere in the photos below?

Pink Blossoms at The Commons
Dogwood in bloom at the University of Portland up on The Bluff

Had a great time, a very relaxing few days wherein I could let my book-in-progress simmer for a while, enjoy some terrific meetups, and just relish being in new, comfortable, yet unfamiliar surroundings. I had not been to Portland before (or anywhere in Oregon for that matter). That held a ton of promise for me.

‘See it, snap it, and learn its story’ has become one of my favorite things to do ever since getting newly familiar with easy-peasy point-and-shoot digital photography about three years ago (no film to process!). Three years and 6,165 Flickr uploads ago as of this writing to be precise, not including the many experimental and lousy shots that never made the upload cut.

Though my Portland uploads have re-triggered my practice, causing me to stop and share this posting about it with you, this is something you can do while at home, at work or play, or anywhere: All you need to do, is carry a camera with you wherever you go — or just use that camera on your smartphone more than you have been doing up to now:

From days gone by

See it: Look at your surroundings more deliberately. Take extra time and really see it. Look closer at the detail, or back away for a bigger picture. Look down toward your feet. Look up above your head. If people are caught in your view and they catch you staring, just smile at them.

Snap it: Take a photo. Take a couple of them. Move the camera around” move you around. Indulge your natural curiosity about things, and focus on color, on lines and angles, on something quirky or unusual, or on a feeling, and the simple fact that you like what you see — or even that you feel emotionally interrupted by it in some way. Consider the interruption an awakening of your attentions.

Bike, brick, stoop and paint

Learn its story: This is where the internet has made new explorations so incredibly easy: Just search. See what you can find out about the subjects of your photos. Are there stories to be learned? I’ll bet there are, for everything has some kind of story, including those just waiting to burst out and happen. You might even stumble on a legend.

Bonus points: Share what you’ve learned in the spirit of Aloha and value of Mahalo, for it’s learning in what we can better appreciate about the fascinating, complex, and beautiful lives we’ve been given on this very precious and amazing planet of ours.

I like doing so on Flickr where my uploading can be tagged in the weird way my mind works to organize things, by making sure I add detailed descriptions when I have them, and photo-blogging within the helpful and very supportive community there. Unless there are people in the shot, I leave copyright permission open with Creative Commons so others can use the photos too. At other times I’ll add something on Ho‘ohana Aloha, my Tumblr, or here on the blog.

Civic Responsibility

The learning part is what always blows my mind. I knew very little about Portland when I arrived there, just prepping enough to get a general lay of the land (several unique districts within downtown alone” Old Town, Chinatown, The Pearl and South Park Blocks to name a few) and could choose good hotels. Otherwise, my ignorance was bliss; I wanted to be surprised and romanced by the place itself.

I’m sure I snapped a lot of photos that many native Portlanders wouldn’t have bothered with. I simply felt they looked charming or interesting in some way, and I would take my snaps knowing I could easily find out more about my subjects later.

Walled Garden detail

Pointing toward the sky

My web searches will then take me on incredible journeys — I returned from my trip ten days ago, and I’m only about halfway done with my uploads! What Flickr forces you to do, (not the site itself, just my own obsessive habits with using it) is label your photo in some way, so to start, my searching is prompted by the simple desire to put the right name on locations I have visited, and not be careless.

Here are just three of the stories I discovered:
The first tells the story of an train watchman turned urban artist back when The Pearl was a rail yard. The second explains how Ecotrust is a steward of the Reliable Prosperity Project, relating to something I find I am increasingly interested in: Eco-business practices. The third will point you to a video which (I personally hope) will inspire more renewal in the district Portland calls Chinatown, for despite its rich history, the place seemed to be stopped in limbo to me.

  1. The Lovejoy Columns: Project story (with more links). Be sure to look at this Flickr set too, with photos taken back in 2008 where the columns originally stood (my photos are at a relocation project).
  2. The Ecotrust Building: On Tumblr (with more links). At Flickr.
  3. The Hung Far Low Chinatown Neon: Video. Story at my Flickr photo.

When you click over to Flickr, clicking the project tag (right side of the page) for the photo you land on will help you see all the photos I have for that particular story.

A Lovejoy Column saved as modern art
One of two Lovejoy Columns relocated to the Elizabeth Tower

A Chinatown without the bustle just isn’t the same
Chinatown icons on NW 4th

Next time I go to Portland I’ll have a wealth of choices with spending my time there, now knowing so much more as I do! There are several buildings I would love to revisit, and see the inside of, timing my visits for when they are open. Loved using their TriMet transportation (even to the airport!) and will have to get more snaps of their Public Art.

Flickr, and my searches for more labeling info, is getting me to feel like I am visiting these places a second time now, and that when I return, for I definitely will, it will have more of a 3rd-time connection for me.

I will leave you with one more story which made me smile, about John’s Cafe: You can find two story links in the photo description there.

So your turn now: See it, snap a photo of it, look up its story. You’ll be so very glad you did.