Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?”

Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine: January/February 2013 Hawai‘i island issue.
This was the inaugural essay for a business column series on the 19 Values of Aloha within the Managing with Aloha philosophy.

IMG_1758 by Rosa Say

“Be true to your values.” It’s advice you’re likely to hear several times in your lifetime, and read in countless books and articles. What does it mean?

Looking at it through the lens of ALOHA, it means, “Manifest your spirit completely: Be you.”

Still a big phrase though, isn’t it.

To “Be you.” is to make several key choices, and then actively live your life by those highly visible choices:

1. You choose your values, knowing they will either help or hinder your behavior — hindering in a good way, curbing rash impulses, for by their inherent nature, values are good.

2. You choose the company of others you keep close, knowing that they will either encourage you, or challenge you with the honesty of unconditional love. This includes family, kept close (or not, also a choice) for ‘OHANA is the ‘human circle of Aloha.’

3. You choose the work you devote your efforts to, knowing that your work ethic will sustain you physically, intellectually, and emotionally. You HO‘OHANA (work with purposeful intention) as a person who does important work; work that matters.

Those are big choices, for they factor into our sense of well-being. Sometimes they’re clear, and we are tasked with keeping them clear, and directing them well. Sometimes they’re muddled and we need to sort through them; getting our clarity is Job One.

Whether clear or muddled, our choices will consistently affect those three decision areas of life’s prevailing focus: Values, relationships, and intentional work. Thus, those are the foci at the epicenter of a Managing with Aloha practice: Value alignment, healthy relationships, and intentional work.

We make a big deal about values most of all, because values drive our relationships and our work as well. Our personal values are the critical ingredients of our beliefs and convictions, and they mix with our emotions, our intellect, and our spirit. We think of our values as immutable, but we’re impressionable, and they can be changed over time — by, and only by, our deliberate choice to do so.

Whether or not you’re aware of it, your values essentially do two things for you: They define your WHY (because they define what you believe in) and they give you a HOW-TO — because they define what you believe in.

Knowing this, we talk of how we Live with Aloha, and Work with Aloha, in order to self-manage with Aloha — recognizing the drivers of our own behavior and taking responsibility for them is how we will ‘be true to our values.’ When you really think about it, the way you ‘walk the talk’ of your primary value drivers is a kind of signature that others identify with you. Taken altogether, your values are your personal brand. They define your reputation.

The reason to bother with all of this is clear. “All of this” equates to wonderful self discovery, tapping into our innate wisdom — our mana‘o. Discovering who you are meant to be in this lifetime, is discovering the relevant answer to nearly every other question you’ll wonder about, because you now know how you fit in, and how you’re part of the whole we call our humanity. You have your sense of belonging. You feel PONO, having a rightness with your world, and sense of balance within it.

As serious as this all sounds in its life-defining gravity, once you make those key choices, and commit to living your life by those choices willfully, they bring meaning, satisfaction, and true joy to your life — your efforts become engaging, even playful. You become inspired (for now you are in-spirit) with your personal, relational, and professional value alignment fueling your best energies.

Imagine how much simpler navigating our increasingly complex world would be, if everyone was transparently true to their values. We could get on with our greater possibilities so much quicker than we now do. This is a great way to think about the servant leadership we know here in Hawai‘i as the value of HO‘OKIPA: We serve others best, by providing them with values clarity when they deal with us: We’re honest and authentic. What they see, what they hear, what they feel radiating from us, is truly what they get. It becomes clear to them how they fit in too, and fit in with us.

We seek to be what ALOHA is all about. We’re true to our values.

These are the principles we’ll examine in issues to come as we explore the 19 Values of Managing with Aloha.  The values of our Hawai‘i are timeless; they are wise, relevant and exceptionally useful to us, and I am very thankful to the ‘Ohana of Ke Ola, for allowing me to share them with you.

Until next time ~ Rosa Say

Next in this series: Aloha is our Rootstalk