LEARNING: A Place of Knowing and of Practiced Believing

Preface: If you are new to Talking Story, Ho‘ohana „¢ is the monthly newsletter of Say Leadership Coaching, sent on the first weekday of each month to our email subscribers (You can learn more, and subscribe here). Talking Story is home to the Ho‘ohana „¢ online essay of each issue, and we explore more on the newsletter’s theme periodically through-out the rest of the month.

Have you ever said, “If I had known then, what I know now, I would have ”” —you can fill in the ”blank.

Most of us have, and thinking about it morphed into one of those Parent Speeches I was all too eager to give both my children. This one (yes, there have been many!) was about the value of learning, and learning to love the process of learning itself.

The gist of this particular Parent Speech was that perhaps they could prevent ever uttering that phrase, one where “hindsight is 20-20,” if they imagined it said this way: “If only I had learned then what I am able to learn right now;and I still can!” My message: The best environment for learning germinates in their attitude.

Somewhere midway through their adolescent years, I came to this Aha! Moment that there were essentially just two things I wanted my children to learn about:

1) How to fall in love with learning itself, for then they could learn their way through whatever the future may hold in store for them, whether problems or opportunities. Loving learning, as opposed to thinking of it as a schooldays chore, would assure that this would always be a joyful experience for them.

2) How to continually discover their full capacity as human beings destined to do great things, a capacity which should be limitless in the way they could imagine it. I want them to value their imagination, and I want them to believe in themselves, trusting in their ability to interpret their imaginings, turning ideas into positive actions.

Loving my children as I do, I repeatedly tell them that they are worthy of the best possible future.

So are you. You must also trust in your imagination, and in your self-belief.

Loving my children as I do, I repeatedly tell them that they alone are responsible for creating their own best possible future.

So are you. You are responsible for your future. Normally, “can’t” is a self-imposed boundary, and motivation is an inside job.

In learning, and in loving learning, engaging in it constantly, you can arrive at a future which is a place of knowing, and of practiced believing. Ho‘ohana with me, and let’s discover it.

Joyful, Jubilant Learning 2006

This month, I have asked 27 other writers in our Ho‘ohana Community to help me inspire you with number 1) above, how to fall in love with learning itself, for I believe these writers are all players in my winning team’s huddle. As you’ll soon read, with a new article posted each day of this month by a Guest Author here, the effervescence of their positive, overwhelmingly optimistic views on learning is quite contagious, and you are sure to get infected by the enthusiastic esprit de corps they share.

Reading of their learning discoveries will excite and energize you. You’ll want in on this Team HC huddle, and we’re all willing to enlarge the circle so you can be.

For a preview of Team HC’s winning essays on learning, click back to this past Monday’s post, Line Up for Learning.

Update!! A BIG Mahalo to Tim Milburn for this wonderful banner he created for our forum!

Jjlearning2006_2For my part of it, I fully intend to jump into the comments here on Talking Story and get some conversation going, for one of my own learning beliefs is this: We can never talk about it enough, whatever “it” may be. We can never have enough dialogue, debate, and conversation. Talking story rocks; it reveals our passions and our mana‘o (the Hawaiian word for our deeply held, near-intuitive convictions); it helps us think as we have never thought before, because conversations create synergy.

If you have not yet switched from blog lurking to engaging in blog conversation, a month full of catalysts on learning may be the perfect point of entry for you. I do hope so.

My own learning essay for you this month has to do with number 2); how to continually discover your full capacity as human beings destined to do great things, a capacity which should be limitless in the way you imagine it.

A Place of Knowing and of Practiced Believing

When we speak of learning, of discovery and of the seeking of wisdom, we speak of the Hawaiian value of ‘Ike loa. Literally translated, ‘Ike is the word for knowledge. Loa means long, or extensive; thus when applied to learning, those three simple letters, loa, mean comprehensive and consequential, thoughtful and thought-provoking, constant and continuous. Taken together, in Managing with Aloha I have translated the value of ‘Ike loa as To know well; to seek knowledge and wisdom in all its wondrous forms.

Learning serves you extremely well; it can complete you.

When we embark on the journey of self-discovery, it is through learning that we discover our four-fold capacity; there is boundless capacity for us

  • physically,
  • intellectually,
  • emotionally,
  • and spiritually.

How fortunate we are to have been born into the human race! We are capable of so much more than any other species on the planet, and fortunately, we have the awareness that we are.

With awareness, comes Kuleana, a heightened sense of our responsibility.

When we believe in the value of ‘Ike loa, we believe that by virtue of our birth, we are also born with a responsibility to explore our gifts and the talents which are innate to us. We have a responsibility to live in thankfulness for them (another complementary value, that of Mahalo) by exploring them until we arrive at a place of knowing —just knowing—who we are, and who we are destined to be.

I have described Aloha for you before, as a concept of living from the inside out, alo+ha, where your alo, your outside demeanor and face presented to the world, is an authentic match for your ha, the good-and-only-good breath of life inside you, giving you a very unique identity, and thus, a very unique capacity and destiny. When we speak of our individual journey of self-discovery, we are seeking the full definition of our uniqueness so we can deliver our worth to others by using it completely. Another way to say this, is that we seek the starring role in life we were meant to play, and play as no one else possibly can, and ever could.

It can sound somewhat selfish at first, this self-absorption I describe and advocate. And admittedly it is, if you end up applying what you learn about yourself to nothing more than your own celebration of ego. However I have a much more optimistic view than that. One of the things I happen to believe in, is that as you make your self-discoveries, inevitably you also learn how to use your newfound knowledge in the very rewarding acts of using your talents in service to others.

Can I prove this? I can tell you some heart-warming stories, and I can give you some magnificent examples. In fact, you already know of them; think of any person you may consider noble in their respect for the human condition. Queen Kapi‘olani. Father Damian. Terry Fox. Martin Luther King. Mother Teresa… If they could, I believe they would all tell you they lived a charmed life despite the hardships they faced, for on the journey they ended up learning about that which they believed they were destined to do.

You can find your mission in life. Your mission can find you.

All it requires is that you keep yourself open to the possibilities by learning about yourself and your capacity. Allow ‘Imi ola, the diligent focus of creating good form for life to guide you. Cultivate your personal mantra of form and function. Be careful not to get caught in the rushing current of life’s other influences and rabbit trails, influences which might describe success in pretty words, but not the words you’d necessarily choose for yourself.

That can be easier said than done, and selfishness —when defined as the focus on your own capacity for lifelong learning— can serve you well in staying the course of self-discovery.

Belief, and the ability to believe with self-assured confidence can help you too. However, what I have learned on my own journey, is that the ability to believe takes some practice.

As human beings who crave social acceptance and who need to “fit in,” we thrive on achieving a healthy sense of belonging. We often experience an exceptionally strong pull in the opposite direction of self-fulfillment, in which we strive to make other people happy so they will like us, and accept us on their terms. As a consequence, our own journey of self-discovery can take the wrong fork in the road.

Believing in ourselves, and in the rightness of our own destiny, takes a sort of growing into our own skin, and feeling okay in the nakedness of it.

  • It requires just enough self preoccupation, a balance of less ego and more curiosity.
  • It takes the action-packed practice of “practice makes perfect.” There needs to be room for mistakes, for lapses in judgment, and for screw-ups which are so ridiculous we can learn to laugh at ourselves.
  • It requires that we take ourselves less seriously, but the learning more seriously.
  • It requires continually making more choices; we can’t settle, and stop. Having to “try, and try again” seems to make us more human.

We like human more than we like perfect.

At this very point in time, I can tell you with raw and vulnerable truth in my own belief, that I am committed to the mission of Managing with Aloha heart and soul; that this IS my calling, to reinvent the very nature of work as we have known it with the coaching I do to bring nobility and dignity to the profession of management.

And yet” not a day goes by that I do not wonder, Did I end up to be who I am, doing what I am doing as my mission because it IS my calling, and it IS my innate talent, or because I ENDED up believing it is? Am I at a place of knowing, or of way TOO practiced believing? Could this MWA journey actually be just another chapter for me, and do I still need to do some self-discovery myself? What will be that BHAG I’m pretty sure I still want to come up with?

I haven’t decided yet, I haven’t arrived yet, and I don’t want to. I like believing that happiness is more about the journey than about the destination. The journey has always been more appealing to me.

While I speak of and coach ‘Imi ola, seeking one’s best possible life, I can’t honestly tell you I expect to ever get there myself. Personally, I kind of hope I never arrive at perfect. Learning to arrive at a place of knowing and practiced belief helps me stay humble, helps me feel very human, and keeps me engaged in the incessant learning I have fallen in love with doing.

And if learning gets to cool, then this becomes a cool place to be.

My deepest, most fervent prayer is that my children, and all who I coach, can arrive here too. A Place of Knowing. Practiced Believing. Self-Discovery of the Innate. Lifelong, Insatiable Learning. They make for a very good life.

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  1. says

    When everything is stripped away and our soul lies bare and all our Earthly goods are dust. We will still have what we have learned, we will still have what we have experience.
    The ability to learn is one of the greatest gifts we have and I absolutely love it.
    Thanks for a great post.

  2. says

    Your posts are so full of many deep and wonderful observations. As I was reading I was thinking of my own ‘Ike loa and when you spoke of coming up with your own BHAG – I saw it ever so clearly – I need my own BHAG.
    I have a recurring vision where I am surrounded by hundreds, even thousands in a celebration of abundance. People from all walks of life, especially young adults who have accomplished amazing business achievements.
    Whether that vision is fulfilled in this life or the next matters not. Today I choose to believe that we can and do experience a taste of heaven if we dare to beleive.
    Today I declare that my Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of impacting the lives of 1,000,000 business owners before I leave terra firma.
    May your Aloha be visible and vibrant, may you experience a new found sense of Mahalo and be willing to embark on your own version of ‘Ike loa.
    Aloha fellow Explorer!

  3. says

    Leaders Are Learners – An Incredible Opportunity

    It’s September – get the cobwebs out of your head and start exercising those brain muscles. This is the perfect time to focus on the value of learning. Rosa Say (author of Managing With Aloha and founder of Say Leadership

  4. says

    Aloha Lyndon, thank you for starting us off this morning so wonderfully. Your thought is quite profound, and reminds us of how empowered we can be. Each day we can live intending to create a legacy that will leave an everlasting mark long after we’re gone.
    And I do love the thought that this life may be but one we journey through; taking the best of it with us as we continue on… you remind me of what I had learned in reading Wayne Dyer’s Power of Intention.
    Wow Greg! Ho’ohana Community, you must click in here to see what Greg has done!
    Greg, you have inspired me! I recall one of my favorite quotes by Goethe echoing in your actions today:
    “Are you earnest? Seize this very minute! What you can do, or dream you can – begin it! Courage has genius, power and magic in it. Only engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin it, and the work will be completed.”

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  7. says

    Aloha to All,
    I would like to add “There comes a time…” in every life – in fact – I have found myself at a ‘time’ on several occasions throughout my half a century so far. A time – when we wonder, we doubt, we seek change, we want…and when this comes floating through, we generally put ourselves through all kinds of twists and turns, deep thoughts, grief, misunderstanding, anxiety, and emotion. Like somebody turning on a light switch, it begins…and we know that we have to now take a look at ‘pain vs pleasure’ and which one we are going to side with. Are we going to go with the pain because after all, it is so familiar, and we know what to expect and how to brace for it despite it’s damage. Or do we let go of pain, to get to pleasure, and learn, learn, learn? Big risk, yeah?
    Here’s a different view: I have been studying body work and the healing it can achieve for some years now. I am not a licensed professional body worker…just a student of the art. In my Hawaiian lineage there is a long line of healers – magnificent people who did magnificent things to help their people. I had an opportunity to study under a Kahuna…and about year 7 into this journey, the “There comes a Time….” showed up. As I struggled, and talked to myself endlessly…I thought “I know, I’ll ask the big guy! He’ll have the answer!” So I made one big container of Saimen with Chicken, one bag of poi, wrapped it all up traditionally and went to the Kahuna’s home. After getting in, and waiting a while…he appeared, chuckled, and came in and sat down. I gave him my gift. He thanked me, smiled and said “What do you want to know?”
    I took a deep breath, and calmly asked “With all that I have learned…I seem to be missing a piece. What is it? Do I need more classes? Do I need to go home to Hawaii for study? What is it that I am missing?”
    He looked at me, smiled, and replied “Nothing. You are not missing anything. And no, there is no more for you to learn. You already know everything. You always have. This thing you think that you are missing is nothing more than ‘consolidation’…you just need to consolidate!” As I sat there, confused…because I had convinced myself that I was missing something and now he is telling me that there is nothing missing! What does he mean?
    He laughed, thanked me again, for the food and said Aloha. Then he left the room. That was the last time I saw him.
    So….maybe our learning is complete in a way? Maybe we just need to, like Rosa says, believe and the magic will happen.
    So…just last week I am talking on the phone with a cousin who lives on Oahu and has done healing work all her life. I started to ask her questions…she stopped me and said “sometimes Keoni, it is not a matter of more learning, sometimes it is just a matter of the individual believing in themselves, that they can. period…”
    So again, here is the believing part, the learning part and one key to arriving at it all: consolidation.
    Just wanted to share…Aloha Nui Loa,
    John Keoni Monte

  8. says

    John Keoni, your story reminds me of that saying, “when the student is ready the teacher appears” and the realization (and self-trust) that sometimes we are both teacher and student :) Mahalo for your sharing: you always bring a smile to my day!