Having recently spent ten days in Hawaii I was reminded of the spirit of the Hawaiian people – their warmth, friendliness, their genuine interest in others and the respect for each other and each other’s property.
I must say it took me most of my break to accept that my bag, flippantly left on the sun lounger while I went for a dip (with iphone and credit card tucked inside), was in fact safe and was not going to be pilfered. I needed to understand this more.
Aloha is in fact law in Hawaii, embodying deeply held Hawaiian cultural beliefs. Enacted in 1986 the Aloha Spirit has been written into Hawaiian statute, the expectation being that all citizens and government officials will conduct themselves, in the fulfilment of their everyday life, with mutual regard and affection, extending care without obligation. These expectations extending to visitors to the island.
Aloha is more than a word of greeting or farewell, instead it is the very essence of relationships in which each person is essential to every other person for their collective existence. The Aloha Spirit being the coordination of the mind and heart within each person, and interconnective with each other in seeking to live in unity. Now I know I was pretty chilled enjoying the sun, scenery and cocktails while on holiday – but isn’t this just as life should be?! This left me questioning our own Aloha Spirit here in New Zealand.
While the Māori language has a similar word in ‘Aroha’ with, it could be said, identical meanings of love, affection, peace, kindness mercy and compassion – the Aloha Spirit for Hawaiians has a deeper impact on their culture with this being a way of living.
The Acumen Edelman Trust Barometer 2023 shows we have less trust in New Zealand whether that be in business, in the media, social media or in ‘the system’. With the polarization of our communities resulting not only from economic anxieties, institutional imbalance and racism issues but also as a consequence of the amount of disinformation currently circulating in our society, our own spirit seems to be waning.
But all is not lost. As with the Hawaiian culture we have our own guiding principles, including the principles from Te Ao Māori including:
- Whanaungatanga, focusing on kinship, the importance of relationships and connections with those that are giving service and those served;
- Manaakitanga, values of integrity, trust, sincerity, respect, support and duty; together with
- Kotahitanga – a focus on unity and togetherness.
Real treasures from the past, should we choose to seek to understand and embrace them.
But why aren’t we and how can we?
Rather than going down a potential rabbit hole in responding to the ‘Why aren’t we?’ question – which has the potential to be side tracked by a blame game, I believe that as a start, it is time for us all to live life with Aloha Spirit (or whatever you may wish to call it) – taking individual steps with a focus on creating momentum for wider change:
- appreciating everything and everyone – being open to other’s and life’s adventures;
- paying homage to nature – pausing to acknowledge the beauty around us;
- being rooted in our ‘family’, in an extended sense;
- practising kindness each and every day (including in respect of self); and
- living with love, peace and compassion.
My mission, now the holiday’s over, is to maintain the ‘Aloha Spirit’, knowing that when one leads with Aloha, in both business and in life, good things will follow.
As part of the solution, I challenge you to walk with me. How do you express Aloha in your daily life?