Preface: For the last two years, we have adopted ALONUI: In Full Presence as our theme of the year, as added punch to our value of the month practice. Prior to that, it was GOOD: January’s Beginnings are in Our Good.
I haven’t been consistent in selecting a theme of the year, however 2021 seems to be begging for it. In fact, I’ve thought about adopting this theme since this past September, when we delved into Hō‘imi, the value of positive expectancy.
Our Ho‘ohana Community theme for 2021 will be Experiment!
Not ‘experimentation,’ for that’s more past tense, and can be about other people. Experiment, as in NOW, and as in for YOU, and as Go for it!
Try things against your grain to find out just what your grain really is.
You are a jigsaw puzzle piece of a certain shape. You could change your shape to fit an existing hole in the world. That was the traditional plan. But there’s another way that can often be better for you and for the world: to grow a new puzzle around you. That’s what I did, and I was a pretty weird-shaped piece. So if I can do it, there’s more hope for you than you probably realize.
—Jessica Livingston, cofounder and partner at Y Combinator
Silver Linings and Silk Purses
We have all been born with our Aloha Spirit, and with a wealth of human talent. Much as we admire the work ethic which activates spirit and talent however, we aren’t guaranteed opportunity and must usually search for it. There is also no denying that luck and good fortune play a part in how blessed our lives become.
2020 could rightfully be dubbed the year all the rules changed. Those changes were a mixture of the good and the bad, and as Hō‘imi has taught us, we always have a choice in what our reactions will be, so the good outweighs the bad, and that good perseveres (as in the value of Ho‘omau)—so we make that proverbial silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
If not now, when?
When I think about the good which came out of 2020, I see the rule-changing packaged with a whole lot of permissiveness.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected us dramatically. It has been more than okay to change, whether in our habits, our work and how we did it, or even with where we decided to live—change and adaptation has been expected and encouraged. Still is.
Several stigmas, such as with being furloughed, laid-off and fired, have lessened. All kinds of professionals have been okay with being considered “unessential workers” this past year—I’ve been one of them, putting my business on hiatus indefinitely last March, and reworking my business plan to better adapt to an uncertain future. As one of my coaching friends put it when we compared notes, “The humility called for in these times has been an exceptionally good teacher.”
We have felt a new and different kind of camaraderie in our shared experiences, tough as they may be. We’ve “all been in this together” as a society-pervasive sorting out, streamlining, and shifting of priorities, examining a lot of variables we largely took for granted before, such as school and in-person learning.
Not for a second do I imply that any of this has been easy, yet this fact stands: We’ve done it, and we continue to forge ahead.
We can do so much more. The pandemic has exposed much more than our shortfalls in healthcare and governance, hasn’t it. Entitlement remains an ugly word and uglier presence—as it should, in any community which values equality and equity, and the benevolence of those who are more fortunate.
In 2021, let’s continue to be rule-changers.
Let’s continue to question the essential and non-essential.
Let’s continue to strike through old assumptions, worn out traditions, and previously unchallenged conventions.
Let’s make more change—more good change—with our willingness, and stigma-free encouragement to experiment.
Does a part of you envision a mad scientist when you say “experiment?” Or maybe you’re remembering being back in school, and having a science fair entry go miserably wrong. I thought about both those things too, but as I said before, I’ve sat with the word for several months now, and here’s what I keep coming back to:
When you take on an experiment, it’s okay to make a whole mess of mistakes. It’s actually smart to expect outright failure, so you’re more careful and proactive with laying out all your variables and options.
What’s NOT okay, is not trying. What’s NOT okay, is hesitation, doubt and pessimism—you’ve got to go through the motions of the experiment and do them, praying for an element of surprise and your breakthrough moment.
I didn’t think; I experimented.
How absolutely wonderful, when we apply those same experimental elements to the course of our own lives! Our habits. Our work and how we get it done. Where we live, and why we choose to live there. Experiment with all of it in 2021, and see what happens…
I bet it will be GOOD.
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
Postscript: When I write entries for this blog, it forces me to categorize them —where would I put Experiment!? With Palena ‘ole, definitely;
Key 9. PALENA ‘OLE:
Palena ‘ole is the Hawaiian concept of unlimited capacity. This is your exponential growth stage, and about seeing your bigger and better leadership dreams come to fruition. Think “Legacy” and “Abundance” and welcome the coaching of PONO into your life as the value it is. We create our abundance by honoring human capacity; physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. When we seek inclusive, full engagement and optimal productivity, any scarcity will be banished. Growth is welcomed and change is never feared; enthusiasm flourishes. PALENA ‘OLE is an everyday attitude in an ‘Ohana in Business, assuming that growth and abundance is always present as an opportunity. Given voice, Palena ‘ole sounds like this: “Don’t limit yourself! Why settle for ‘either/or’ when we can go for the ‘and’ and be better?”
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