Ka lā hiki ola, the value of hope and promise

Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine: March/April 2016 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Previously in this series: Pono, the value of rightness and balance.

“Ka lā hiki ola;
The dawning of a new day.”

Ka lā hiki ola is a phrase I initially learned of on the Big Island, for it is deeply ingrained into our local community. Its presence and influence is so strongly felt there, I’ve come to think of Ka lā hiki ola as another Hawaiian value in our arsenal of values-based management connected to sense of place — and deservedly so! Happily, it is gaining traction with neighbor island businesses as well, for Ka lā hiki ola is our sense of hope.

Literal translation does not suffice. Ka lā hiki ola is flush with the hidden meaning (kaona) of ‘this day wherein new life is possible, and much can be realized.’ This certainty of abundant new opportunity, and its optimistic attitude of immediately accessible likelihood, is most commonly spoken of expectantly and confidently, as ‘the dawning of a new day.’

With every sunrise we get another shot, another opportunity to be all we can possibly be. The sun may rise over some change that has occurred, yet it still comes with a fresh new start, and the gift of fresh chances. What’s past is now behind you.

The first time I went out on the ocean with the Alaka‘i Nalu, the watermen and women of Hualalai, I was in seat five of their oldest vessel, an outrigger canoe named Ka lā hiki ola (the seat where the steersman could best coach me.) My kaona in that day was that she represented my hope in all we would do together as a team bonded by our Aloha and Mālama for each other. When I climbed into that canoe, I was making a deliberate choice as to what I would give all my attentions to. That day figured prominently in my own search for Pono, and it would be a turning point in my relationship with the Alaka‘i Nalu: They didn’t believe I could understand them completely, let alone be their manager, until I had been out on the ocean with them.

Ka lā hiki ola encourages us to make Pono today and not as a lofty distant goal. Let go of yesterday, and let go of everything irrelevant to the right now. Give yourself hope in this very moment, not just in tomorrow. Live again, and live better — start a new chapter going forward. Knowing that sunrise will always bring a new day, be secure in that certainty, while living with the attitude that today is it. Enjoy your present; focus on what matters, and relish the now.

There’s a fitting football analogy that helps us relate to this coaching. Once a game is in play, it’s time for everything you’ve practiced for, time to perform. Once the quarterback calls the play in the huddle and you take your place on the line, you’d better be ready to go, and ready to perform magnificently. The playbook is not coming on the field!

And you don’t focus on the obstacles. If you receive the hand-off as running back, you set your sights on the goal line, not on the monster tacklers trying to stop you; you look for an opening. Who they are doesn’t matter; who you are does —you have possession of the ball! You have choices, and you will be the one to create your destiny and make it happen. You will be the one to cross the goal line or find you’ve fallen short.

We often find a rhythm in business, and we start plugging away, day in, and day out. Luckily, valuing Ka lā hiki ola shakes us out of our routine and encourages us to be creative again, asking how we can live in the present and take advantage of this new day gifted to us: Can we make it a dawning with more joy?

As liberating and hopeful as this can be, it takes an inner confidence to respond to the challenge set forth by Ka lā hiki ola —to not need that playbook on the field with you. Trust in your instincts, trust in what you know and have learned, and trust in the person you are. Prepare to grow. Should there be a Phase II to your business? Decide on the tone for it, and get the vision you paint for your staff to illustrate your dawning of a brand new day.

Trust in your team. Start by asking them to help you do what you do best: Don’t dilute your present efforts; invigorate what you are truly known for. What it is that brought you to Pono? When we are calm, ready and at ease, we also find that others respond to us better — our contentment is very appealing to them, and they hope it’s contagious.

Ka lā hiki ola: Your possibilities await you. Grab hold of them, and live them fully.

~ Rosa Say

For more on Ka lā hiki ola, I invite you to visit my Ka lā hiki ola index archived on www.ManagingWithAloha.com

The inaugural column for this series may be read here: Why Values? And Why “Manage with Aloha?”