Ho‘ohana, the Value of Worthwhile Work

Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine: May/June 2013 Hawai‘i island issue.
Previously in this series: Aloha is our Rootstalk

IMG_1496 by Rosa Say

WORK can be a time when you are actively bringing meaning, fulfillment and fun to the life you lead. To Ho‘ohana, is to work with intent, and work on purpose. We all have to do it, and worthwhile work achieves the results we need. So why not work as a self-driven value?

Ho‘ohana work is something you love doing. Never discount your joys — employ them. Work in celebration of your natural strengths, talents, and gifts. Work to deliver a gift to humanity, starting with your family, or your neighborhood. Work to make a difference, and to champion change. Work to serve others well, and be with them while at your best. Work for a cause you deeply care about. Do these things, and you Ho‘ohana and work on purpose. You’ll also be choosing work that directly fuels the Aloha Spirit you share with others.

In ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i, hana is the word for work. Ho‘o is a prefix that brings active causation and transition to the base words that follow: It will turn nouns into people-powered verbs — we make them happen. Therefore, the word Ho‘ohana defines a value in which you work with resolve, focus and determination. You are choosing to work on purpose, and with self-defining intentions. You work professionally, yet choosing to do so with a personal mission in mind.

What do you love to do, often and intensely, trusting that you’ll somehow get compensated for accomplishing it? For instance, I love learning and teaching, and in particular I love coaching managers in workplace culture-building. I love the art and science of business and the democracy of free enterprise, where ultimately the customer rules. I love the spoken and written word, and I love the study of how language will influence relationships between people. I love the new global possibilities of universal partnering. I love knowing that we can choose our own destiny — and create it. I get passionate about all these things, and by indulging my passions I gave life to Managing with Aloha as my intentional, everyday work.

Now, this was something I did before I had my own business. When you choose to live the value of Ho‘ohana, you choose work that is part of who you are in spirit; you enjoy it and grow within it. You choose meaningful work that is worthwhile and satisfying for you, and thus it can be done with connective intention right now.

When Ho‘ohana is a value you actively practice, professional work holds personal worth, tremendously broadened from the prevalent and frustrating point of view that the work you do on the job is for someone else. The time you spend on the job becomes your own again, even if you’re on a predetermined career path, for one complements and helps achieve the other. When you hold a job with work you love, one that you are convinced will help you realize your personal goals, the paycheck you get is icing on the cake, and you join those who say to themselves in wonder, “Imagine, someone is actually paying me to do this!”

Redefine the word “work” and make it yours with Ho‘ohana as your value of action and intention. There are far too many negative connotations being spoken in connection with WORK when in practice they should be overwhelmingly positive and energizing instead. Most of us learn the phrase pau hana for when work is done, before we learn about Ho‘ohana, where the truer pleasure lies, waiting for us to tap into it. There can be, and should be, great fulfillment and pleasure in work. It should feel wonderfully satisfying when you say, “Whew, I really worked hard today.” For this to happen, you must work with purpose, and feel that your work is worthwhile.

Start by choosing well. Work where and when it enlivens and moves you, and it feels so wonderful to be creative and productive, to celebrate your identity, knowledge and skill. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot work on your own hopes and dreams in sync with the goals and objectives that have been set by your employer. You’ve just got to take the first essential step, and choose the right job where both can be done. Contrary to popular belief, this is a reality not reserved for entrepreneurs and those who are self-employed: It can be reality for everyone. Why not let it be yours?

Alaka‘i Managers will do this for themselves, and they’ll do this for those they manage. When managers pair employees with meaningful and worthwhile work that is satisfying for them, they will find these employees work with true intention, in sync with the goals of the business. Be one of those managers.

Until next time ~ Rosa Say

IMG_1496 by Rosa Say

For more on Ho‘ohana, I invite you to visit my Ho‘ohana index archived on www.ManagingWithAloha.com

Next in this series: ‘Imi ola, the value of mission and vision.