Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it

Mark wrote, “Keep these coming Rosa. I need all the help I can get with being more positive. Wish I knew how you do this.”

Here’s my little secret, the one I don’t talk about much:

I have a skeptical side I work at keeping in check, and it can make me suspect that I am not a person who naturally and instinctively leans toward the positive view instead of the negative one. At first glance, I can see half empty instead of seeing half full. The argument can rightfully be made, that my ‘leaning half empty’ goes counter to everything else I teach about ALOHA, for ALOHA is all full! I usually don’t talk about that leaning because I don’t like believing it. I loathe the thought it might be instinctive, and I don’t want to give it my attention. So I simply choose not to acknowledge it much. I won’t allow pessimism to have any of my energy.

Catch and Release

Sometimes I slip, like all human beings do. Chances are, my slips are when you will read a rant here because I’m bothered by something, and I want shift or change; simply letting it go isn’t enough. I’ll be okay with my human frailty, telling myself I have to release the rant now that it escaped its confines, but productively please; no bitchy complaining or whining allowed! I work on turning my rant into a positive action of some kind, or at least a more useful one.

Here’s my bigger secret, and the one I love to talk about, so it will no longer be a secret at all:

“Being positive” is a Palena ‘ole conviction: It is Key Concept #9 on Unlimited Capacity. Think of our PALENA ‘OLE concept as the MWA version of “Seek and ye shall find.” What’s especially great about this version, is that it comes with positive expectancy, for PALENA ‘OLE is basically about abundance. When we seek, we’re expecting to find something more, and something good.

From our 9 Key Concepts Resource Page:


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: “Why settle for ‘either/or’ when we can go for the ‘and’ and be better?”

We all work on gaining a positive attitude, me included. I think that labeling ourselves either optimists or pessimists tends toward the extreme side of the scale, and can often be unrealistic. Better to ask ourselves, how do I move along that scale?

My positivity happens when I go on the hunt, actively and deliberately looking for better and best, and leaving everything else behind, especially that drag-and-drain of negativity. My Palena ‘ole conviction gets easier and easier to have, for when I look for better, I do manage to find it! Writing then, and speaking, becomes a deeper exploration of that discovery. I shift to the values in my Palena ‘ole stronghold: ‘IMI OLA, PONO, and KA LĀ HIKI OLA most of all.

Hō‘imi and Value-Verbing

This is what we call “value-verbing” in Managing with Aloha: We intentionally practice our value-driven actions.

My preferred Hawaiian word for this intentional choosing of the positive is Hō‘imi. Short and sweet, Hō‘imi holds a lot of kaona (hidden meaning) in my mana‘o (my strongest beliefs and convictions):

is another form of Ho‘o — make something happen. is the grammatical preference before another word or phrase which begins with i or ‘i.

‘Imi means to look for something, and I think of ‘imi-looking as actively hunting for what you seek. ‘Imi is looking for something in a purposeful way connected to ‘IMI OLA, your best possible life.

Hō‘imi has those two i’s in it, reminding me that looking for better is completely up to me, and within my self-control. No laziness, no excuses.

Thus Hō‘imi delivers value-alignment in my personal language of intention: I do believe we can speak of what we want to come true. It’s an important first step in having that ability all Alaka‘i Managers value so highly: ‘Walking the talk’ by honoring the ALOHA of our own good word.

As Carl Jung said, “Trust that which gives you meaning and accept it as your guide.”

Believe in your Biology

You’re here, in our Managing with Aloha community, because you believe in the capacity of your Aloha Spirit. Now believe in your biology as a human being.

You can Hō‘imi too, and much more easily than you might think. Being human has a lot of perks, one of them being that your brain is wired to help you. This is very comforting knowledge!

I’ve learned that I can ‘believe in my biology’ instead of my suspected nature, because scientist after scientist will tell us so, especially those in the branch of neuroscience concerned with the brain. What they love explaining to us is this: While we may fool ourselves into accepting multi-tasking, there really isn’t any such thing as “multi-thinking.” The biological fact of the matter is, we only focus-think on one thought at a time. When we pull off our multi-tasking, one task definitely got done better than the other: It got our primarily directed thinking as we did it, whereas the other task only got our auto-pilot in going through repetitive motions we have already learned and committed to memory. When we multi-task, we do one of those tasks without thinking about it.

If we focus on Hō‘imi, and we’re consciously and deliberately looking for better and best, we’ll effectively kick any negatives out of what our brain directs our attention to — negatives like those thoughts which might be predisposed to flesh out “yeah, but” thinking, “can’t” instead of “can,” and any worst-case scenarios. Our conscious thinking will assure that we don’t throw all caution to the wind, however our hō‘imi intention will look for better, and steer us away from negativity and pessimistic obstacles.

What’s wrong with negativity? It drains energy instead of building it up and fortifying our reserves like positivity does. Behind every “can’t” is a won’t. However, “I will” is the positive expectancy of your PALENA ‘OLE conviction, and your Hō ‘imi intention. The evidence is quite clear: The successful Alaka‘i Manager stewards the workplace which thrives within positive human energies.

My best possible life (i.e. living the value of ‘IMI OLA) has to be filled with more positives than negatives; it’s the only thing that makes sense to me as celebrating my spirit of ALOHA. So that’s what I choose when I think about it.

And that’s the biggest non-secret of them all:

We human beings have the power of proactive choice.

We get to choose how we think, whether positively or negatively. Choose ‘IMI OLA, and the seeking of your best possible life, for it’s a value which naturally wants what’s best for you. And trust in this brain-wired, ALOHA-driven certainty: When you look for good, and you look for better and best, those are the things you find. Once found, it’s good you can add into your life, your work, your reputation and legacy.

Postscript and MAHALO:

This may sound familiar to you, for it’s a fresh combination of several articles which previously appeared on Repeating is helpful in learning, however I wanted to make a stronger connection to PALENA ‘OLE this time, for it is so important in our conceptual construct as the MWA ‘OHANA IN BUSINESS. I also think Hō‘imi is one of the most powerful words you can add to your value-verbing vocabulary as an Alaka‘i Manager: Start with it in your own self-coaching, and you will experience how ‘looking for better and for best’ will strengthen you — you’ll feel it.

I would also like to extend a warm Mahalo to Joanna Paterson and Ulla Hennig for their part in shaping my more culturally inclusive and universal perspective in writing about this topic: Joanna lives in Scotland and Ulla lives in Germany, and both were leaders in the Joyful Jubilant Learning project who generously shared their mana‘o with us. We’ve had several great conversations about optimism coupled with realistic expectations, pessimism as a beneficial caution, and open-minded thinking.

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, I smiled when I got to the end of this – I was being reminded of a conversation about learned optimism, and of course you remembered it too!

    I think the idea of a scale is useful – it’s not an all or nothing thing. I can see the best in situations and in other people effortlessly. Whereas I find it much more challenging in relation to myself, or that question about ‘what should I do with my life’. (I am glad to be in such excellent company with this one!)

    • Rosa Say says:

      Good point Joanna. I think you’ve keyed in to why empathy can be so elusive for us. By classic definition, empathy is putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes best we can, to see their point of view, but there are often times when our point of view stands differently, rooted in different values. Is this about me, or is this about them? is a good point of clarity for us.


  1. […] I’m in this place of spilling secrets, here’s another one: “What should I do with my life?” is a question I ask myself […]

  2. […] of my word/phrase loves? Ma‘alahi for sure (the persuasion of calm), and Hō‘imi like we just talked about, but we’ll stick to English tags… Positive expectancy. Intellectual honesty. Abundance […]

  3. […] For more on Key Concept 9: Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it. […]

  4. […] ‘review’ at all. No processing of productivity, just being the product. You will Hō‘imi, and look forward like you never have […]

  5. […] They put blinders on you, preventing you from achieving work to progress, particularly with the possibility potential in 1) change and reinvention 2) innovation and visionary thinking and 3) the growth of PALENA […]

  6. […] ‘Tis true that the internet is portal to a wasteland of rubbish too, but oh the delight of the gems when you find them! These days, our high-speed, wireless connections make it so easy to look for them, so why not Hō‘imi? [Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it!] […]

  7. […] Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it […]

  8. […] and exhausting, to intoxicating and exhilarating. Freedom has aligned itself with Hō‘imi, looking for better and best. Freedom has become a goal I’m perfectly okay with redefining over and over […]

  9. […] learned to go for ho‘o gusto, purposely evoking MAHALO when something has gone wrong in some way. This helps me rebound with […]

  10. […] you love, Exploration to learn and experience more, and vacation decompression which gets that Palena ‘ole boost as […]

  11. […] 3. Define my next BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal, coined by Jim Collins), a personal one. This sabbatical I am happy to say goodbye to 2012, for I was dealt a crushing blow, and had to accept that I failed with the BHAG I had been working on for more than a decade now. Those possibilities dried up, but the possibilities with a new BHAG are abundant (Palena ‘ole, Key 9), and I must choose from among them and imua, go forward with a positive expectancy. […]

  12. […] please believe me — it’s there! Allow 2013 to be the year you Hō‘imi your Kuleana — you look for better and for best; for the bounty within whatever responsibility you engage with and take ownership of, willing to be […]

  13. […] “Well, I guess we agree to disagree.” is rarely good enough: Alaka‘i Managers will press on, looking for agreement until they find it, or can at least work on part of […]

  14. […] seems to be going along swimmingly well, make this same case for periodic disruption: To disrupt in a positive way, is to the rock the boat of complacency and buckle in for a more exhilarating ride, and for a new […]

  15. […] …has long been a mantra for me (mahalo nui to Stephen R. Covey, for sharing it within his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). I believe in Hō‘imi, and looking ahead with positive expectancy (Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it). […]

  16. Got Passion? says:

    […] Hō‘imi to “focus on the joy” and Nānā i ke kumu to look to the source of your best-life […]

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