Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine, November/December 2016 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Links are additions made expressly for the readers of this site and ManagingWithAloha.com.
Previously in this series: Ho‘ohana as our Work Ethic (Third in Series 2)
‘Imi ola: We are meant to be Seekers
‘Imi ola is “to seek life.”
Our purpose in life is to seek its highest form.
Aloha mai kākou,
I admit it: I jump to an either/or conclusion when I learn that a manager has worked in the same position and same company for a long time, and they are not that company’s owner or founder.
I conclude they are one of two kinds of business people, and I can’t stop myself, the coach in me starts to look for the evidence of which manager they are: One I feel compelled to coach, genuinely wanting to shake them by the shoulders and help them; the other I’m eager to congratulate and celebrate, for being the person we in business can always be—I am genuinely thrilled to know they don’t need my coaching at all.
I wonder: Is this long-term manager way too comfortable and dangerously complacent—a place-holder, blockage and company artifact—or is this manager an ‘Imi ola reinventor?
A reinventor is an Alaka‘i Manager who is the ‘Imi ola seeker of life’s highest form, using his or her job as the race car they drive exceptionally well on their journey. Sadly, the complacent manager stuck in the place-holder’s comfort zone has stopped looking for life’s possibilities altogether, and is snoozing in park. How long has it been that way?
A reinventor discards their documented job description on a regular basis whether sanctioned by company bureaucracy or not, effectively writing a new one for themselves with Ho‘ohana work in ‘Imi ola on overdrive. A reinventor is a relentless seeker of different, insatiably curious, believing that better is always a possibility in a myriad of new choices.
A reinventor is in perpetual growth mode, pushing at the boundaries of what is, and turning their job into what it has the potential to be. They may remain in the same company and same position, yet very little of what they do today is the same as it was last year or the year before. They keep asking questions and learning more. They keep disrupting the modus operandi and changing it up. They keep forging new partnerships, and enlarging their network. As a result, their circle of influence keeps growing larger, and they excel in their performance.
Which person are you?
One of the most damaging things to happen in business is self-inflicted: We settle.
‘Imi ola is Managing with Aloha’s value driver for goal-setting, mission, and vision. These must be iterative explorations. We need the value of ‘Imi ola to keep us from resting on our laurels, so our business will be vibrant and dynamic, consistently interesting and relevant, and constantly growing.
This is not to suggest that you need to grow bigger in size; a company considered a ‘small business’ can have much more vigorous growth in scope, in capacity, in innovation, and in service provided to customers than a much larger one. In fact, a common challenge faced by big business is that they struggle to remain as nimble and as immediately responsive as smaller companies.
A reinventor will never suggest they are indispensable to their organization. When the real story gets told, we discover that the reinventor stopped doing the job they were hired for a long time ago. They taught others to do it, delegating it successfully, or they reshaped the system or process which once required their involvement in another sustainable way. In adopting the seeker’s habits of looking for new benchmarks, noticing their nuances and applications, the reinventor is constantly working their own succession plan. They are on the move, and no one can stop them.
Support your reinventors. If ‘Imi ola is not included as one of your core company values, I encourage you to incorporate it into your all-staff development mentoring, into your innovation initiatives, and into your own self-coaching.
Don’t be that business person ‘still on the job’ who has actually retired within it, parking abandoned vehicles in the organization. You are capable of more. Human beings are meant to be seekers.
If you are that person’s boss, why in the world are you letting place-holders drag your company down in that way? Mediocrity kills business. Don’t wait another day: Put ‘Imi ola to work for both of you. Every person your retirement-mode manager currently affects will jump for joy as work gets more interesting again, and more meaningful. So will your customers, for they feel the ripple effects of ‘Imi ola inspired performance.
One day, your once-complacent manager will thank you for lighting the ‘Imi ola fire under them as well, for their life has gotten much more interesting.
Next issue: We revisit Ho‘omau, the value of perseverance and renewal.
Read more about ‘Imi ola in Series 1: ‘Imi ola, the value of Mission and Vision.
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.