One of the questions I often get about Managing with Aloha is, “How did you come up with it?”
I didn’t “come up with it” in the way many assume. Our values have been around as long as we humans have been, although I often think about how dormant they can be at times, waiting for us to tap into them. The way I see it, it’s much more accurate to say I packaged my specific interest about values in a certain way (19 values, 10 beliefs, 9 key concepts), made it personally useful in the field I thought of as my playground (business), and then decided to share it (as practice and philosophy). I saw how my discoveries and experiences could be useful for other people too, managers in particular.
That made me very, very excited about it. Even more than I was before. I began to see how Managing with Aloha could help managers seize personal responsibility for the profound effect they have in the workplace. Management might be hard work, but we could be sure our efforts were worth it: Managers could make a significant, positive difference.
Managing with Aloha is not a story of invention; it’s a story of fascination.
I would love to think of myself as an inventor, but I honestly believe I’m more of a learner turned curator.
Instead of invention, what I can tell you, is the story of how value-aligned living and working became part of me, and part of my life’s story. My book shares that story with value illustrated details.
Here’s the short version: All I really did, was get interested in values, take constant notice of how they worked their magic in human work, and allow my curiosity to keep setting itself on fire. I ran with my growing fascination, and never looked back. If there was doubt along the way, I ignored it, and ignored it quite easily, for my fascination was so much stronger.
I named it at some point, this ‘thing’ I was obsessed with studying and exploring, years before I even imagined writing a book about it. Naming my fascination was a shortcut in kaona (a ton of meaning accumulated in a few words), and the naming started as a set of locational experiences connected to my management style (Sense of Place) before I realized it had morphed into personal philosophy. I named my fascination to keep Managing with Aloha alive in my own head, and more important, in my own intentions — I was the only one who called it MWA for several years. When I started to actively talk about it with others, we gained the beginnings of our Language of We.
Getting an idea as a flash of brilliance is OVERrated.
It happens, for getting ideas is easy, it happens all the time.
If you have the self-discipline, conduct this experiment: For the next month, write down every single idea you have. You need the reporter’s objectivity too: Don’t qualify your ideas, and don’t judge them, just jot them down for the sole purpose of writing a list. At the end of the month, I guarantee you’ll be amazed at the pure number of ideas you came up with.
The exercise will just prove the point to you if you doubt yourself, for discounting our own ability to generate ideas seems to be some quirk of human nature. And you know what? It may be you’re just like me, where origin doesn’t even matter. The idea that ends up fascinating you, setting your creative and inventive juices boiling doesn’t even have to be yours.
The bigger, and more important question is, will you be the one to run with it?
Execution and follow-up is vastly UNDERrated.
Heck, pure stubbornness for no other reason than believing in something is underrated.
When I took notice of something I liked about values, I refused to let it go. At one point, I was likely the world’s biggest obsessive compulsive about a very simple concept: Adopting a value of the month. The first case studies I encountered in Hawai‘i were completely void of value-mapping: They were marketing ploys to produce and sell Hawaiian calendars and nothing more. Adopting a value of the month was a simple practice for most people, or a “nice idea” they’d learn about in passing, but not for me. I wanted to do it, speak it, wear it, own it, control it, team-direct it, and dominate it until I completely understood it.
Sounds strange to say it, I know, but I made myself fall in love with value alignment. I started by defining values my way, a way I could take ownership of. I’d make myself adopt values I didn’t even believe in that strongly, just so I could feel their behavior-driving immersion. I dabbled, and I would purposely experiment, playing with a mix of being gullible and being a contrarian. I mostly called it play, but I would be a willing guinea pig too, allowing values to influence my life come what may, and dealing with what happened.
If I was going to say that values are inherently good, I had to prove it within my own experiences, and thus believe it for myself. My immersion in values different from my own, became my way of learning empathy and seeking “to understand, rather than being understood” (Stephen R. Covey). Along the way, creation did begin to happen.
Stories of Lifelong Learning don’t come to an end.
As you know, I’m still pretty crazy about everything and anything connected to values-based management, those three somewhat stuffy words where it all started. To start stuffy is okay. To remain stuffy, and degrade to boring or mediocre is not okay, not if something will be this big a part of a life, and possibly, a life’s work.
I still have a Value of the Month program, just more focused, as tends to happen over time. Before, choosing a value like LŌKAHI meant all of it. Immersion. Now, I’ll choose a smaller chunk, like “The positive found in power” (page 106 in my book) and I will look for intersections with other values. There is, for instance, a very nice segue from KULEANA’s accountability transformation to this LŌKAHI concept of power as a positively charged effectiveness (self-efficacy). I totally accept values as cause now, and I’ve shifted to learning more about their effects: I’ve become more interested in the subsets and interplay of values — how they activate, intersect or blend, and how they flow from one to another in sequential behaviors.
Fascination begets more curiosity. Today, I see and hear values in everything, I just can’t help it. I encourage conversation as I do, because the sound of a person’s values talking out loud to me is truly beautiful to my ears, my intellect, and my soul. And I love it all: The perspective, and the intention I now have with understanding human behavior unconditionally has blessed me in countless ways.
Like it? Might love it? Run with it.
I’m just one example of how these stories can happen, and I want you to be another one.
Your story could be managing and leading in our workplaces too, where keen need remains, or it might be connected to something else. ALOHA curation (my even shorter kaona for my personal evolution with Managing with Aloha today) has substantial reach.
If you like an idea or a learning, don’t be too quick to let it go as a passing fancy. Indulge that first strike of fascination. HO‘OMAU, and persist. Stay humble, and interview others who are talking about it: Listen to their stories.
Devote enough interest to see if you’ll fall head over heels in love with the fascination which inspires you. You need not explain it or justify to anyone — not even yourself, not in the beginning. Go all ‘IKE LOA, and be a learner at first, being obsessively curious, to see if your own fascination catches fire.
If not move on. Like it? Might love it? is a process of exploration you can do over and over again. Running with it, is running with discovery and heightened emotion.
Be the one who runs with it. Rise above the fray, and take your stand. Ignore the naysayers and trust in your intuition, and own sense of inspired wanting. Satisfy the hunger your fascination creates in you. To satisfy that hunger is to feel incredibly nourished.
One of these days, you’ll find you have your own Managing with Aloha story. You will have “come up with it” too.
Postscript: I link my articles the way I do, for this very reason, to help you Run with it when a glimmer of fascination strikes. Resist skimming and scanning, and train your attentions with in depth study, for while all are welcomed here, I purposely write for those of you who are subscribers: We can continue conversations instead of constantly repeating them. When you hover over links their page title will pop up, so you know if that link leads to a page you have already read or not. Use the comment boxes here for your own dabbling and experimentation within community conversation, for we can learn kākou, together.
Key 3. VALUE ALIGNMENT:
Work with integrity by working true to your values, for your values will drive your best, and most desirable behaviors. Focus all efforts on the right mission and the right vision (yours!) for it honors your sense of self and brings compelling pictures of the future within your reach, making them your probable legacy. Whether for a business partnership or specific team, deliberate value-alignment creates a healthy organizational culture for everyone involved: When we want to collaborate and co-create, shared values equip and energize us.
Read more: The 9 Key Concepts of Managing with Aloha