Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine, March/April 2018 Hawai‘i Island issue.
Links are additions made expressly for the readers of this site and ManagingWithAloha.com.
Previously in this series: Motivation is Kuleana’s Inside Job (Eleventh in Series 2)
The Lifelong Learning of ‘Ike loa
“‘Ike loa is the Hawaiian value of learning.
‘To know well; To seek knowledge and wisdom.’”
Twelfth in Series Two on Managing with Aloha | By Rosa Say
Learning to listen to one’s self-talk is powerful self-coaching. Sometimes however, we must learn to distinguish and disavow the self-talk we’d be wiser not to listen to. Self-deprecating beliefs aren’t part of being humble, modest, or humorous—they’re damaging.
A manager I know, used to say this to, and about himself: “I really have to beat my head against the wall before I learn anything new.” When I first heard him say it out loud, I felt compelled to jump in and respond with, “Not true! Not at all! We have to talk story about the value of ‘Ike loa my friend, for you are more the learner than you give yourself credit for.”
It was early in our partnership, and I didn’t know him that well yet, however I was completely confident that I’d find my assertion to be valid, and I did. He learns well, can do so with the enviable intensity of a study’s full exploration, and is indeed a lifelong learner.
So are you, and so is every other person you know and may encounter. The human ability to learn is our inborn talent—without it, we wouldn’t survive.
With that assumption as our starting point, ‘Ike loa, the Hawaiian value of learning, is one of those values which illustrate how value adoption and value alignment is a matter of deliberately chosen degree. Any value we can articulate enough to say, “yes, I believe in that as a good source I can pull from,” resides within us like germinating seeds, and we can store an amazing quantity of them. Consider them part of your knowledge bank.
We adopt our values when we choose them more deliberately, and when we call on them to align with our good intentions so they may better guide us. When we are specifically asked, “What are your core values?” and we respond by listing the handful which immediately come to mind, we’re actually listing the ones which we happen to call upon with regularity, and most naturally via our instinct and intuition.
Therefore, this is the encouragement we share with all managers and nascent leaders in our Managing with Aloha coaching: Assume that everyone you work with is a learner, and that they can always choose to learn more.
Your job as their manager, or as their workplace peer or partner, is to make these ‘Ike loa discoveries about them:
—What must they learn in the context of your work together?
—What kind of learning do they aspire to? What is it about? Why?
—What kind of learner are they, i.e. How do they learn best?
—When do they learn best? i.e. How are timing and sequence factors of consequence for them?
Most important, will be your follow-through. Add the discoveries you make to your partnership:
—How can you support them, starting where they are, and growing them to where they must work, and can excel?
—How can any learning they aspire to, be made as relevant to their Ho‘ohana as possible?
If you work at answering those questions, the degree of ‘Ike loa learning you apply, literally “to know well” and “to seek knowledge and wisdom” will become clear to you.
By the way, this diagnosis is not something you do alone—ask them, and each person you work with or manage. Create that safe and trusting conversational space where they tell you, and your partnership can grow within the value of ‘Ike loa as it is certainly, beautifully, and productively meant to do.
This may be new learning for you as a manager as well, in regard to how people learn best, and how you work in support of them—it’s the perfect example of when training, schooling and education, and curriculum-setting can be better suited to the workplace and made relevant and less theoretical. If you are a manager or business person who read this Managing with Aloha coaching and wondered, “and how do I do that?” pursue that learning for yourself. Trust me; learning to be the manager who is an ‘Ike loa-aligned coach is tremendously rewarding.
Next issue: We revisit Ha‘aha‘a, the Hawaiian value of humility.
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.