Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine, May/June 2018 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Links are additions made expressly for the readers of this site and ManagingWithAloha.com.
Previously in this series: The Lifelong Learning of ‘Ike loa (Twelfth in Series 2)
Prosper with Ha‘aha‘a
“Ha‘aha‘a is the Hawaiian value of humility.
Be humble, be modest.
Open your thoughts.”
Thirteenth in Series Two on Managing with Aloha | By Rosa Say
One of the things I’m proudest of with the Managing with Aloha philosophy, is that it has evolved with us. It has shifted from mine to ours in a more industry-inclusive way, and while they remain universally timeless, the 19 Values of Aloha have evolved too, within the context of their mission as workplace culture-builders.
When I sat to edit my book for its 2nd Edition, 12 years after it had initially been published, I quickly realized that a fresh edit wouldn’t be enough, and I would have to essentially rewrite it. I kept all of its pilot stories to preserve its basic snapshot-in-time narrative; the changes I made, and there were many, were about the values themselves. Yet they weren’t actually changes—they were additions, nearly 50 pages worth.
My guiding value in this rewrite process, was Ha‘aha‘a, the value of humility, for I kept asking myself, what else have you learned? I’ve long used Ha‘aha‘a for self-coaching guidance in being willing to consider new ideas and to soften my demeanor, but this was the first time I used it to steer an entire project.
We study the Hawaiian values and use them as our resource because they are so timeless. We have learned how expansive they can be, while they embrace our spirit intimately. We proactively work with them in the freshness of today’s workplace challenges, because they are so adaptable. The catch phrase we often use in our Language of Intention which relates to this, is “goals change; values are forever.”
It did not surprise me, that Chapter 12 on Ha‘aha‘a, was one of the chapters I added to most in publishing Managing with Aloha’s 2nd Edition. If values were people, we’d probably describe them as being open-minded and flexible, the quintessence of what Ha‘aha‘a is all about. We’d describe them as lifelong learners.
When 2018 began, cries for “more humility” were frequent, and were heard worldwide. I heard it said and often echoed that 2017 was a “year of arrogance” and we’d have to heal by making 2018 a “year of humility” be it in business or politics, with race relations or gender issues, and whether doing so locally, nationally, or globally.
So how are we doing in making that happen?
Humility requires that we be open-minded in a manner which unlocks and reveals the listener and learner in us. It does not mean we lower ourselves, become subservient, or even that we step aside. There is a balancing effort within humility wherein we stand tall within our present knowledge and dignity, but with a softer, more pliable demeanor accepting of others; we are willing to cooperate with them and include them. We participate. We get involved. We initiate. Yet through each and every one of those efforts, we remain humble.
Perhaps we need to talk about the objectives of humility more than we do, giving it concrete, meaningful goals. Humility is the best ‘how’ we achieve the ‘whys’ of acceptance, cooperation, co-working and co-living in all their shapes and forms. What does that mean for your business in particular?
Humility in the business realm is ripe for leadership—leadership which can be demonstrated for the outside communities your business resides in. Further, that is the humble, yet ‘local way’ of businesses which radiate their Aloha Spirit.
When your business regularly practices Ha‘aha‘a value alignment, your everyday working culture practices the open-minded and Aloha-spirited listening and learning required when humility is actively applied to the everyday business objectives that will make your company prosper. Humility becomes a signature ‘how’ of ‘why’ your business exists in the first place.
This is exactly what a “year of humility” can do for all of us—make us prosper again within clear values which make us feel whole and less divided.
We start with humility itself, understanding it as the pure definition and central goal of listening and learning, exploring all our possible business expressions of Ha‘aha‘a in their best possible forms for us. Then, we pair it up with our other core values, and how our Ha‘aha‘a practices relate to our Kuleana (our responsibilities), our Ho‘okipa (our service to others), and our Alaka‘i (our leadership in our community).
I encourage you to talk about humility more than you presently may be doing so in your workplace, talking to each other about how you actually practice it as your shared value and apply it. Have humility be a way you “speak with Aloha” to each other, and to all you serve, then succumb to that magic where you must walk your talk to “work with Aloha” and “live with Aloha” as well—three of our Aloha Intentions for the practice of one value is a wonderful way to prosper.
Next issue: We revisit Ho‘ohanohano, the Hawaiian value of dignity.
Rosa Say is a workplace culture coach, a zealous advocate of the Alaka‘i Manager, and the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawai‘i’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. Contact Rosa at www.RosaSay.com, and discover more about the Managing with Aloha philosophy at www.ManagingWithAloha.com.
Postscript: Ke Ola is published 6 times a year, and distributed in print on Hawai‘i Island and by subscription. I have therefore made a practice of archiving the articles on RosaSay.com for those within our Ho‘ohana Community who may want to read them.
You can access all 20 articles I had written for Series 1 via this index. The inaugural column for Series 1 may be read here: Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?” and here for Series 2: Aloha Intentions.