This is the first sentence you’ll see on the inside jacket flap of Managing with Aloha’s hardcover edition:
“Values” may be the most frequently spoken word in business today.
Try to Google “values” and you’ll see for yourself just how frequently it comes up. Last time I checked, there were 45 million entries searchers could choose from! People know there is some secret sauce to the personal values we hold near and dear to our hearts, and they sense those values do more than define what we believe in: Exactly what is that more all about?
Well, “Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business” is more than a publishing byline for my book too: I feel I should share what I mean by values, talking about them as much as I do, and having made them the core drivers of the Managing with Aloha philosophy. Here’s why I consider values to be so vitally important— and so incredibly useful.
Values essentially do two things for us: They define our WHY and they give us a HOW-TO.
Those two things don’t always go together, and when they do, the result is very, very powerful. To start with your WHY is to begin all efforts with your personal truth about something, to start with its “good sense.” To proceed, and take action with a HOW-TO connected to your WHY, is to honor your personal truth.
Isn’t that what personal integrity is all about, acting with authenticity and honor so that other people feel they can trust you? As we say in Hawai‘i, it’s Pono (it’s right, and it’s good). Well, you can trust in yourself too, because of your values.
Values are the personal way your soul talks to you, urging you to take action. The values you possess light your path with a certain moral clarity; they give you certainty, nourishment and strength.
Values are an inseparable part of the fabric of the human race, they are indeed our secret sauce. Short and sweet, the values you possess will determine the way you behave.
“Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies.
It happens when society adopts new behaviors.”
— Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
We have all grown up being shaped by values that are woven into our geographical cultures, for values drive the quality of our experiences. These values are layered with the nuances of our parents’ life experiences, and those of their parents. I believe we inherit them as surely as we inherit the color of our eyes and the curl in our hair. When you were younger, you’d learn about them more explicitly when you misbehaved, for parents universally have this innate certainty that values = goodness = better behavior. Most people do not consider values to be morally neutral.
That being said, when it comes to our behavior, we all have the power to choose. The “universal” values I have written about in Managing with Aloha are universally discernible ones: by “discernible” I mean “perceptible by the senses or intellect.” They are concrete enough, tangible enough, to be real tools, and they help us choose our most productive behavior. Their universal nature also makes it quite easy for us to share them with others, and align in partnerships.
Our values drive our beliefs—in Hawaii we call this our mana‘o—and our beliefs give our thoughts clarity. When we are true to what we believe in, the decisions we make come to us easily and naturally, especially when we have a cause, an objective, or a mission in mind. We become convicted about those beliefs.
There are more values within the Hawaiian culture than there are within the pages of Managing with Aloha and this site; mine is not an all-inclusive listing. The values I have written of, are specifically aimed at exploring and improving management practices, the Ho‘ohana (worthwhile work) of those of us in business, and our working lives as a whole. In my book, I present them to you as modern everyday applications for what I have experienced and still see as today’s challenges in business.
Therefore, I hope all the “moral values” noise you’ll hear (especially during our political elections) will not make you cringe at the word. Values-centered management is still desperately needed in business enterprise, and in the WHY-driven life. We need action, and we need to act with confidence, and with hope for what is better. And action taken, true to clear beliefs that have been borne from good values, will give us our integrity. Acting with integrity makes things right for us; it feeds our hunger to be intelligent, ethical and morally just.
Your values tap into an inner source of profound knowledge and strength: Your Aloha Spirit
I do believe that Hawai‘i is optimally suited to lead the world in modeling values-centered, profitable business, for we in Hawai‘i live daily with something good and right by its very nature: Aloha and all it embraces. We’re inspired by Aloha, and it comforts us. The values of Managing with Aloha are uniquely alive in the culture we work in. When we bring our good values to a business environment, we position them as tools we can use to bring tangible benefits to those we manage and work with, and to the health of our businesses’ bottom line. Managing with Aloha (the book) shares stories where this has happened, bringing extraordinary experiences into my life.
Now Hawai‘i isn’t perfect! We have our challenges in Hawai‘i too, and we can improve. We work on getting better daily, knowing it is good work to be dedicated to.
Shall we do so together? You have Aloha too.
Let’s grab our responsibility for great management, and for imaginative leadership. And let’s be trustworthy leaders, by managing ourselves well first and foremost. We all have good values to draw from. We can to this kākou, together.