2010 Update: I made the decision to bring Say “Alaka‘i” here to Talking Story in late May of 2010 when the Honolulu Advertiser, where the blog previously appeared, was merged with the Star Bulletin (Read more at Say “Alaka‘i” is Returning to the Mothership).
Therefore, the post appearing below is a copy of the one which had originally appeared there on November 23, 2008, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…
Your Aloha has created Sunday Koa Kākou
Wow, mahalo nui loa!
In my first post here last Tuesday, I said that Sundays on Say “Alaka‘i” would be a “maybe,” depending on any need created by your questions and comments, and boy, did you respond! Thank you so much for your Aloha.
I have a terrific assortment of suggested topics and requests from you to get us started, and I’ve decided to add a category to contain our third day’s talk story that will be called “Sunday Koa Kākou.”
Today, we start with our Ho‘ohana; our purpose and intention with this work we shall make happen each Sunday. It will be a day to practice the two values of Koa [courage] and Kākou [togetherness and inclusiveness], two values I believe to be woven into Alaka‘i as the value of leadership.
Alaka‘i ka ‘ike; Our guides with learning
Why Koa Kākou?
I am not a Hawaiian linguist; I have much, much more to learn about our native tongue, but as you can tell, I do love to invoke the power of words, and I love the concept of kaona —hidden, storied meaning which becomes part of our language of intention.
I am also fairly bold with using our Hawaiian words because to use them often (and quickly) forces the learning challenge with me, so to all the Hawaiian speakers and kÅ«puna [elders] out there who might have any helpful corrections for us, please write to me if I mess up! I will gratefully and eagerly receive your teaching. I also humbly ask your understanding and patience with me if I leap to new words too quickly, for I err on the side of making a mistake I will learn from, versus hesitancy which stifles the creative impulses of my mana‘o with Alaka‘i.
Mary Kawena Pukui’s ‘ÅŒlelo No‘eau and the Hawaiian Dictionary she collaborated on with Samuel H. Elbert are always on my writing table, and I promise to do that homework study first!
Koa; “Courage begets courage”
There is one more book I strongly recommend to all who choose to study Hawaiian value alignment, for it was written by someone I believe to be one of our greatest teachers. KÅ« Kanaka, Stand Tall, A Search for Hawaiian Values by George Hu‘eu Sanford Kanahele should be in every Alaka‘i Library.
This is what Dr. Kanahele has to say about Koa [courage] as a value of Hawaiian society:
“In a society whose chiefs were trained in the arts of fighting from childhood, and who proved their mettle on the battlefields, physical courage can be expected as a badge of leadership. But courage has two sides: the physical, and the nonphysical, that is, the emotional, moral, or spiritual. Opposition to a hero comes in many different forms.”
The Hawaiian value of Koa is more than bravery and fearlessness. It is also resolution, conviction, and emotional strength. When we manage and lead with Alaka‘i, Koa is a value we constantly must draw from if we are to lead with ideas of nerve and daring in times when our world largely cautions us to tread lightly —and when our own voices of self-doubt caution us to tread lightly. We call on courage from within.
To make a difference for someone else, we must make a difference for ourselves first. We must wear leadership like a warming coat when our bones rattle with inner fears. On a more basic level, this means that we have to welcome our mistakes from day-to-day for all they can teach us. Have you noticed how you remember and retain more when you emerge victorious from what was a mistake at first?
In KÅ« Kanaka, Dr. Kanahele discusses intellectual courage, moral courage, and the courage of conviction and bravery with examples demonstrated by King Kamehameha. He ends with this:
“No one surpasses Kamehameha the Great in leadership, historic achievement and lasting impact, or in having a transcendent vision for his people. … Kamehameha no doubt recognized that courage begets courage; the more you use it, the more of it you produce. Conversely, the less of it you use, the less you have. This is a truth that every leader learns sooner or later, although not every leader learns this hard lesson in time.”
Photo (and more on Kamehameha I) from Wikipedia
Kākou; Communication begets collaboration
Within the context of work, I think of Kākou as the value of collaborative communication. Now again, don’t restrict ‘work’ and think of it as your job; think of work as your Ho‘ohana, [intentional work] and simply as anything you need to get done.
Kākou is about inclusiveness. At its elemental core, the spirit of Kākou acknowledges that we are not on this Earth alone, and as the human race we seem to survive better —we thrive —in each other’s company, sharing the ups and downs of our day-to-day existence.
Kākou is less intimate than ‘Ohana [family] for it applies to everyone that surrounds you in the consciousness of some particular striving or effort or task. Kākou is a distinctively verbal word; when you say it, you speak of your inclusive intentions instantly. For instance, when I address a group of people, large or small, I normally start with the words “Aloha mai kākou,” meaning that I offer my Aloha to everyone there. Mai kākou includes me as the speaker, and it’s my way of asking permission to be included in their conversation, in their attentions.
Kākou promotes sharing, and making the effort to promote the well-being that is felt with inclusiveness. When we teach the value of Kākou to our ‘Ohana in Business, (a business-model concept) we coach them to involve and include their peers in all they do, promoting Lōkahi; cooperation, unity and the harmony that comes from togetherness.
Kākou is the language of “we.” And the language of we stimulates ownership and personal responsibility in the all-encompassing initiatives of a company —or of a blog where communication is highly valued for it’s collaborative and creative properties, like this one!
Our Koa Kākou Language of Intention
So this is my kaona [storied, hidden meaning] for Sunday Koa Kākou: We’ve defined leadership as being about vision, and working on our ideas. Therefore, our Sunday Koa Kākou will be to work on those ideas which earlier in the week have come from YOU; we will offer up the day in a brave charging forth with the collaboration we can create.
I trust you may have read some of the comments which have already been shared here. Great stuff, so if not, do check them out! These came via my email:
“Today, more than ever, we need Alaka‘i. A friend once asked me to think of a hero – someone I look up too. I thought of my mother, my dad, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela… then he asked, ‘How many people look up to you…want to be like you?’”
“Yes it is time to reinvent ourselves again! I am addressing this in my latest blog posts and in my custom framing business. I feel that times will be very challenging for the next year at least and those that survive will have solved the problem of presenting their products and services as necessities rather than discretionary purchases.”
“Now is the perfect time for this. We all need personal energy to enable us to lead our businesses through current times.”
Marianne wrote: “I like this!”
I do too Marianne!
Our partnering to learn more about management and leadership through our Alaka‘i value-filter is going to be more timely and on-point with your help; the braver you are about sharing what you are thinking in the comments here, the better the result will be.
I do welcome your emails, however Koa Kākou will happen most in the comment boxes because you are talking with each other and not just me; Sunday will be the highlight reel and the celebration party. We will have a current and highly useful laboratory to work in; calling this a ‘blog’ will just be a shortcut to explaining how we started.
Again, thank you for the warm welcome this week
Mahalo for reading this first week’s worth of Say “Alaka‘i” and bearing with all the introductory stuff. Bloggers refer to it as designing ‘About pages’ and ‘category generation.’ We in the islands know it’s more than that, and we know why it’s important.
It is akin to our Hawaiian practice of stating our genealogy, of asking our permissions, and of being forthright about our Aloha intentions as we write new stories which we hope will honor the histories of our ancestors [the mo‘ōlelo]. For me, it is also about a gathering together of that crucial sense of place, with Say “Alaka‘i” as a place for all of us to learn management and leadership together, and of assembling an energetic, positive community; I am here for conversation with you, not to write a broadcast.
For today, I’ll end with one more suggestion for your Alaka‘i Library and a quote from another respected kupuna;
“There is a prophecy that, if seven generations pass and the seeds are not planted, then the next generation passes away. We’re in the seventh generation now of the past 200 years. So, we need to inculcate into our younger generations that there are so many things to be proud of —tremendous riches to be learned and passed on. We must commit ourselves as Hawaiians, be proud of what we have and understand our past, [and yet] commit ourselves confidently about achieving things.”
—chanter and hula master John Lake
quoted within Voices of Wisdom, Hawaiian Elders Speak by MJ Harden
Perhaps that can be our first Sunday Koa Kākou conversation? What are some of those “many things [we need] to be proud of —[the] tremendous riches to be learned and passed on?” What must we commit ourselves to? For example, Joanna had offered this in her comment:
“Values, purpose and intention can make such a difference to the way that we feel about ‘work’. Even the word ‘work’ can make us feel heavy, deadened, burdened whereas if we shift to the focus on what we’re trying to do, and why, and how it connects with our core values, what we’re about (and yes, where we come from) it starts to feel like task, a project, a challenge that we can approach with more vigour and energy.”