Ho‘omau, the Value of Perseverance

Originally published for the print edition of Ke Ola Magazine: September/October 2013 Hawai‘i island issue.
Previously in this series: ‘Imi ola, the Value of Mission and Vision

IMG_1516 by Rosa Say

Several managers have told me Managing with Aloha’s chapter on Ho‘omau is their favorite within the book’s story-telling, and I can easily understand why, for I love this value too! Once you get that far in the philosophy, having read through Aloha, Ho‘ohana, and ‘Imi ola (as we have in this, our Ke Ola series), Ho‘omau gives you the feeling you can jump in, apply what you’ve already learned, and enjoy the swim; the water’s fine and you’ve become buoyant!

You’ll be glad you jumped. Focused work on Ho‘omau is extremely rewarding: It’s a value to aspire to in the depth of its meaning, yet you can immediately incorporate it in your workplace culture building in smaller chunks, satisfying your most pressing need for it.

A Ho‘omau plan of action can be broken down into three parts: Persist, Continue, and Perpetuate. PERSIST as in don’t give up easily: Be resolute — ‘admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering’ in your resolve to get something done. CONTINUE as the value of continuous improvement: Don’t just repeat, get incrementally better each and every time you execute. PERPETUATE as in the creation of resilient worth, as a refinement of process: Cause whatever good you have engendered, to be long-lasting yet supple — flexible, adaptable, and timeless.

No matter what your mission, vision, or performance parameters, Ho‘omau PERSEVERANCE as the resulting strength of the Persist, Continue, and Perpetuate habit, is pure yumminess you can sink your managerial teeth into whether you decide to start personally or with organizational intentions. Ho‘omau is a wonderfully pragmatic value: It guides habit-building in those practical ways that tackle obstacles. We self-train beyond pure willpower, which alone, never seems enough, working on muscle-building actions we connect to our strengths, and to character-building in focus, tenacity, and endurance.

Setbacks in every workplace are both real and imagined: We grapple with facts as much as suppositions. The gift of Ho‘omau value intention in a workplace culture, is increased confidence and courage. Ho‘omau responds to the “real, or imagined?” question about any workplace situation with, “it doesn’t really matter [if this is fact or supposition]: “We can tackle it, and we can overcome any adversity as we need to.”

If there is any difficulty within Ho‘omau deliberation, it’s as described in those Kenny Rogers’ lyrics: “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” Sometimes our options are rather obvious: We will quickly say “Giving up is not an option.” when we instinctively feel that certainty in our gut — go with the intuitive feeling of that inner Aloha wisdom. Other times, and much more often the case, we simply don’t know when to quit and regroup: We aren’t sure. In these cases Ho‘omau will truly shine if you have welcomed the kaona of its full meaning into your workplace culture, for those who have input for you will have Ho‘omau as their way to voice their suggestions and offer their help. You can break down and examine your ‘hold ‘em or fold ‘em?’ decision into PERSIST (to then CONTINUE, and then PERPETUATE) or change course. The Ho‘omau language of intention will help you separate sound reasoning from justifiable defensiveness: We want to get our job done in the best possible way — we don’t want an excuse not to.

In our next Managing with Aloha installment of this series, we will talk about Kūlia i ka nu‘u, the Hawaiian value of achievement and excellence. As preview, Kūlia i ka nu‘u focuses on articulating the achievement you want in a definitive way: You focus on a precise goal so you can begin your work with that goal in mind. In comparison, Ho‘omau focuses on the experimentation of work process when the exact end-goal may not yet be defined, and on the rewards of working through that discovery. The process of work becomes the way to articulate what you must then CONTINUE and PERPETUATE, weaving successes into your working culture to stay, building strength upon strength instead of as dictated by tactical achievement.

Ho‘omau helps managers take leaps of faith, by trusting in the competence of their people as doers, and in their workplace as a learning culture. To trust in Ho‘omau as either an individual’s value-driver of persistence, or as the workplace culture’s value-driver of process perseverance, is to perceive little risk in taking those leaps of faith: You will always emerge through them being the stronger for it. To trust in Ho‘omau is to trust in the process of finding: It is very liberating to know you don’t need to have all the answers at the get-go. What you have instead is the confidence and courage to discover the answers you’ll need, because you have your people, and you believe in your collective Ho‘omau capacity.

Until next time ~ Rosa Say

IMG_1516 by Rosa Say

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

Next in this series: Kūlia i ka nu‘u, the value of achievement in excellence.