What’s your Calling? Has it become your Ho‘ohana?

Preface: This posting is a follow-up to this one: Do you ask good questions? If you haven’t read it yet, please consider going there first; for the preview will frame this article much better for you.

Ho‘ohana is the Hawaiian value of intentional work. So my title asks if the work you are doing right now is the work of your calling. The value of Alaka‘i is a calling to the work of a manager and leader.

First, a Mana‘o Statement

I am going to start this particular posting with a mana‘o statement. A mana‘o statement is a belief or conviction that is unshakeable for you; it simply is not up for debate, negotiation, or compromise. You believe in it strongly, for it aligns with your personal and professional values. When your actions and your speech convey this belief, you live with aloha: You dwell in the in-spirit connection that shapes your intellectual honesty.

What follows is a mana‘o statement for me: If you don’t believe in the same thing that is your right, and if it aligns with the intellectual honesty of your aloha spirit I will not think less of you. On the contrary, I admire you, and you might not want to waste any more of your time reading the rest of this. Sincerely, that was an ‘and’ not a ‘but.’ Living within your aloha spirit is honest; it is authentic.

My mana‘o statement is this: I have a core belief about being a manager, and that is that management is a calling, and NOT a job defined by a title or position on an org chart. To be a great manager is to answer one’s calling to bring Ho‘ohana work to people as well, just as you have already done for yourself. In the Managing with Aloha philosophy for example, we frame that Ho‘ohana delivery work in a workplace that is values-centered, mission-driven, and customer-focused. You can think of those three things as the other compass points, however Ho‘ohana is always our North Star.

“I think most of us are looking for a calling, not a job. Most of us, like the assembly line worker, have jobs that are too small for our spirit. Jobs are not big enough for people.”
—Nora Watson, from Studs Terkel’s book, Working

Ho‘ohana work is intentional work

Your Ho‘ohana is the work you do on purpose, with passion, and with deliberate intentions, consistently seeking to match up your attentions to that intention. Ho‘ohana is your value-connected work. It might be your job, it might not.

I think of Ho‘ohana work as connected to Aloha this way:

ALOHA is about you living with authenticity in a world populated with other people. We human beings were not meant to live alone; we thrive in each other’s company. Aloha celebrates everything that makes you YOU.

HO‘OHANA is about you making your living in our world in the way that gives you daily direction and intention and leaves you with a feeling of personal fulfillment every day —not just when you have accomplished large goals.

What’s your calling?

So, can everyone have a calling to manage other people within the definition I prefer and stubbornly advocate and champion with Managing with Aloha? I like to think it is possible, but the more realistic possibility is that the calling to be a manager co-exists in wonderful harmony with other kinds of callings too. I like the way that Robin Sharma talks about a calling as a cause on a visceral level:

Perfection is highly overrated

“What do you evangelize? …You are meant to shine. I believe that fiercely. You are here to find that cause, that main aim, that vital destiny that will move you at the most visceral level and get you up at the crack of dawn with fire in your belly.”

—Robin Sharma asks “What do you evangelize?” (another really good question!) in The Greatness Guide, 101 Lessons for Making What’s Good at Work and in Life Even Better

We in Hawai‘i are good about honoring our gut-level, visceral urging; we call it our na‘auao, that ‘learned, enlightened wisdom’ that we can fully connect to mind [mana‘o], body [kino], soul [‘uhane] and spirit [aloha] when we feel in right balance [pono].

What I most wish for you is not that you become a manager; what I much prefer is that you answer your own calling whatever it might be, for then, you will work intentionally and not just go through the motions doing the work of someone else’s plan: You will be the master planner of a destiny of your own design (‘Imi ola).

What’s in this for me? I’m working with the real you, and not the pretend, sounds good, but less than intellectually honest you.

Then, if it happens to be that your calling IS Alaka‘i management and leadership, well, that’s a sweet proposition which is additionally thrilling for me! Now we’ll really get to some good work in a very, specific-to-us Ho‘ohana we share as managers and leaders.

I believe that this is some of the very positive transition now occurring in this present time of economic shift: People are discovering they can newly pursue their calling, and they can Ho‘ohana. Are you one of those people?

Let’s talk story.
Are you finding that you can pursue your calling within the job or jobs you do? Tell us more! Comment here, or via the tweet-conversation we have on Twitter @sayalakai.

More reading from the Say “Alaka‘i” archives on: 

Extra credit: You’re here to learn about Alaka‘i, so that tells me you’re a high achiever, right? Ready to go from good to great?

  1. Grab your personal journal so you can ‘write to think.’
  2. Go back to our Alaka‘i strategic objectives and values for 2009 and pull what we’ve talked about today into personal Ho‘ohana alignment for you: What might this ‘good question’ exploration taken just now trigger for you in next action steps you can take with one of those objectives or values (or both)? Here are the links:

Strategy: The Top 7 Business Themes on my 2009 Wish List

Value-Alignment: Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou: Hawaiian Values for 2009

~ Originally published on Say “Alaka‘i” ~
What’s your Calling? Has it become your Ho‘ohana?

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  1. says

    I’m glad you are so strong on this point of manager/leader as a calling, Rosa. I, too, believe it makes all the difference in the world to a person’s presence for others and personal sense of fulfillment. This is a point around which we need to develop access. The goal of integrating and balancing mind, body, soul, and spirit demands that we are in touch with all of these energies, but the culture of many workplaces does not necessarily support this awareness and focus. No one can prove it’s value in an absolute way, and yet I also believe if we open only a little we will already see that wholeness awaits us and we will naturally want to go in that direction. How can a person alone do this? To me, in the end, this is why we search out community — because locating and living our personal destinies depends on it. Your picture of the flower is perfect. I imagine it being twirled as an instrument of awakening, as the old buddhist story goes.

  2. says

    Aloha Dan, we are very aligned with this! I am “strong on this point of manager/leader as a calling” because I believe that the cultural workplace shift of which you speak can best be achieved through the role of the manager. However that role needs reconstruction badly, and our past conventions with it have caused our present problems: The vast majority of managers today are in management as a compensation-aligned job versus a value-aligned role.
    I’ve never thought of this challenge in the way you phrase it: “This is a point around which we need to develop access.” Something to give much more thought to, mahalo. I do agree that community-building is a substantial key, for while a calling is about self-awareness, we connect to others and serve them in a mirroring kind of way ”“ that connection and integration is so crucial.

  3. Roselia Conrad says

    I love the idea of people vs furniture…get rid of the desk and get out and be with people. For physicians, this is all we want to do, be with our patients. Then, life got complicated and paper and more paper workwork and business matters were thrust on us and intruded into our relationships with our patients. The whole medical environment is a mess. I dealt with it for 13 years…no more.
    I’m back to minimizing paperwork, spending time with my patients, and staying away from desks…at work and at home. Returning to my Ho’ohana, my calling.

  4. says

    Thank you for your sharing Roselia. So true, how our better success in our careers can add much complexity if we allow it to. Good for you with having that consciousness of returning to your Ho‘ohana.
    A quick note for anyone newly arriving here: I am pretty sure that Roselia’s reference to “the idea of people vs furniture” is due to her first reading this posting current to April:
    Be a Deskless Manager: Ho‘o!
    Here is that link: http://www.sayleadershipcoaching.com/talkingstory/2009/04/deskless-managers.html