Curate, and Be Curated

Have you cracked open that gorgeous new journal you got for Christmas?

The clean slate we get each January, is an opportunity for managers to employ start-fresh record-keeping. In this era where a smartphone’s camera and voice recorder normally sits in your pocket or is commonly cradled in hand, (and is often of way better quality than your old point-and-shoot camera or clunky mailroom copier) there is little excuse for not doing that record-keeping, and making it slicker, more efficient, and also more fun. The tactile, analog goodness of your actual pen on paper handwriting, can then be devoted to writing to learn.

This is not going to be a post about your equipment options however, nor is it about your analog versus digital choices. It IS a post about your intention as an Alaka‘i Manager.

Do you document, or do you curate?

There’s a difference between documentation and curation in the way most managers currently practice them. Let’s push at their edges, and purposely make the value-verbing distinction for our Managing with Aloha Language of Intention [Key 5 and Managing with Aloha’s Lexicon Morphology].

As you will read, I encourage you to document less, as conventionally has been done, and curate more.

As an ‘IKE LOA -valued objective, I want you to be curated as an Alaka‘i Manager.

As an ALAKA‘I -valued objective, I want all your partners to be curated successes as a result of your leadership influence, and the ALOHA -filled time they spend in your company, and by merit of your partnership.

I know you want those things too, or you wouldn’t have read this far.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive. The world needs more people who have come alive.”
— Jonathan Harris

Repeat after me: “Documentation is old school. I’m a Curator now.”

Documentation is old school. It’s cover-your-butt transcription for progressive discipline, for union arbitration and other H.R. cautions and legalities. Documentation is done for evidence, way more than for worthy record-keeping.

You pay attention when you document because you have to, but not necessarily because you are intending to engage better (refer back to the Engagement Continuum here: The Real Rules of Engagement) — and there may in fact be the intention to wash your hands of a situation as expeditiously as possible, documenting well so you can pass it on to someone else.

In contrast, curation is keeping, and curation is remembering, and curation is wanting to look back so you  can look forward in a much better way. George Bernard Shaw might have said that curation is wanting “to be thoroughly used up.

Curation is the result of a finely honed organizational skill, caring for the record-keeping which truly matters (i.e. is Alaka‘i Manager-intentional). Curation is a strength-building activity, that will, in effect, document progressive performance, and successful progress through improvement (holomua). We curate in a striving for excellence (kela, KŪLIA I KA NU‘U).

In workplaces, we’ve conventionally documented to catch a wrong, and too many managers remain stuck in that habit.

What we can do instead, is curate to listen better, to see good, and to catch a right [‘select’ on that neon green stickie note definition].

We’ll curate to get swallowed by our learning [to ‘organize’].

We’ll curate to HO‘OMAU and MĀLAMA; to perpetuate our good results with better habits, and with stewardship and ongoing care [to ‘look after’].

We’ll curate to keep our promises, to find all adjacent possibilities, and to stay out of dark places.

A manager will curate the Art of Good Work.

In doing so, that manager will become an artist too, painting a beautiful picture of what a workplace can be.

If there was a document dedicated to everything about you, what would you want it to be? While the argument can rightly be made that we learn from our mistakes, we don’t really want them documented, other than maybe, to illustrate how far we’ve come since our transgressions, and to see how much we have learned since then.

I’ll wager you would much rather have a curation — a document devoted to your strengths, and to that path you carved, which continually led to more of your potential [for Palena ‘ole, the unlimited capacity of Key 9].

I’ll also wager that each and every one of your partners would rather have that strength-building, potential-charging curation too.

As an Alaka‘i Manager, gift that curation to them, and do it for yourself.
Curate, and Be Curated.

MWA as Curriculum by Rosa Say

Related Reading Suggestions:
  1. 1-Catch the Good, 2-Tell Them!
  2. Managing: Be a Big Fan of the Small Win
  3. Managing Energies: Struggle & Ease
Review this post’s curation as an example:

…and as a journaling exercise in self-coaching [previous 2 links are to those tags]:
I categorized this post as applicable to 5 of our 9 Key Concepts: What is the Managing with Aloha connection you make to each one in the current state of your learning about the philosophy?

  1. Key 3 on Value Alignment and Value-Verbing
  2. Key 4 on The Role of the Manager, and The Calling of Alaka‘i Managers
  3. Key 5 on Language of Intention, both authoring your talk, and walking that talk
  4. Key 7 on Strengths Management, and honing an organizational skill that may not necessarily be one of your strengths ~ yet. We curate to get better, and get stronger.
  5. Key 9 on the abundance mentality of Palena ‘ole, where capitalizing good opportunity with Mālama, can beget more good possibility
Extra credit :)
  1. To drill down even more, dive into the category links for each key in the right side column of the site.
  2. Practice using our value-verbing, by reviewing the tags selected in the post footer below.

However you organize your learning within your journal (annotation, marginalia… in regard to reading inputs, I use Kindle/Goodreads, and a handwritten paper journal) or digital record-keeping (I use Evernote) is how you presently curate. Reflect and adjust, and hone your skill: Is it working for you? What might work better?

If you were to strictly curate your direct reports’ job performance, curating it for you, and not for H.R. or for anyone else, how would you do it differently?

Practice by Rosa Say

About Rosa Say

Rosa is the author of Managing with Aloha. She’s a writer and photo-taker, a workplace culture coach, and a zealous advocate of managers everywhere. She’s a wife and mom, sister and daughter, manager, leader and worker bee, living the best life she can, just like you. Learn more about Rosa at


  1. Rosa Say says:

    via 29years365days:

    “You should work your entire life to explain your own responses to things – in life and in art – to yourself. It’s amazing how little people sometimes examine their responses to things. I’m fortunate that as a critic I am paid to do that and I am always learning interesting things about myself.”
    — Day 222: David Edelstein, 54, Movie Critic for New York Magazine, NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and CBS Sunday Morning, Author


  1. […] When I urged you to “Be a curator” as opposed to a documenter, I was primarily focusing on how we as managers can begin to curate work performance with the objective of strength-building: Curate, and Be Curated. […]

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