Hawaii is called the Aloha state and for good reason. The word Aloha has been used differently throughout the years but it has a universal message and when someone says, "Aloha" to you, there is a sense of connection followed by a smile no matter what part of the world you reside. Picturesque landscapes and some of the world's most beautiful beaches, along with tropical weather make Hawaii a true paradise. Hawaiian practitioners striving to ensure the rich culture of the islands are preserved will share that utilizing Aloha in business is a sign of respect and honor. I have been fortunate enough to meet and talk story with wonderful people who share their life lessons through their stories. One such person who spoke at a Chamber meeting a few years ago was Pono Shim, and I was moved by his presentation and appreciative of his knowledge. Here is an excerpt from Pono Shim and Ramsey Taum that I hope you will find enlightening.
Ramsey Taum is the President and CEO of the Life Enhancement Institute of the Pacific. Pono Shim is the CEO at the Oahu Economic Development Board.
What is Aloha? What is this special “spirit” that is universally spoken of? For some of us, it is more than a greeting but rather a life force that defines who we are and why we are here. Auntie Pilahi Paki, who was a “keeper of the secrets of Hawaii” tasked several of her students to be prepared for the future when the world would be in collapse. She spoke of the time when Hawaii would have the remedy to save the world and the remedy was “Aloha”. In 1970, at a Governor’s conference, she introduced modern Hawaii to a deeper understanding of “Aloha”
- Akahai, meaning kindness (grace), to be expressed with tenderness;
- Lôkahi, meaning unity (unbroken), to be expressed with harmony; `
- Olu`olu, meaning agreeable (gentle), to be expressed with pleasantness;
- Ha`aha`a, meaning humility (empty), to be expressed with modesty;
- Ahonui, meaning patience (waiting for the moment), to be expressed with perseverance.
A secret of “Aloha” is that a person cannot do one of the principles without truly doing all and if you are not doing one you are not doing any. So, to be “Living Aloha” is to live all of the principles. An even deeper meaning of “Aloha” that Auntie Pilahi Paki shared with us can be found in a quote from our Queen.
THE QUEEN’S QUOTE FOUND ON EPILOG PAGE OF THE BOOK “THE BETRAYAL OF LILI’UOKALANI” BY HELENA G. ALLEN In 1917, AFTER Queen Lili’uokalani had seen the end of the Hawaiian monarchy, she said to her hanai daughter, Lydia K. Aholo, “To gain the kingdom of heaven is to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen, and to know the unknowable‐‐‐that is Aloha. All things in this world are two: In heaven, there is but One.” Queen Lili’uokalani (1917)
ALOHA is an overarching principle. Like most Hawaiian words, it has many meanings. It can be a noun, verb, adjective and adverb. It is prescriptive, descriptive and subscript. Aloha is more than a greeting or salutation. It is a condition, a way of life, a mindset and an attitude. Aloha is an action, not a reaction. It is a natural response of respect, love and reciprocity, and not a contrived series of motions or expressions that have been rehearsed and perfected for a commercial expectation. Aloha is to be in the presence of life, to share the essence of one’s being with openness, honesty, and humility. It is a way of being, a way of behaving, a way of life. It is a commitment to being real. It is a commitment to accepting others and giving dignity to who they are and what they have to offer. Aloha is not a slogan, pitch line or monogram. It is a spiritual principle that conveys the deepest expression of one’s relationship with oneself, the creative and life‐giving forces, one’s family and community, and with one’s friends and strangers.
After reading this excerpt, how can you incorporate Aloha into your business? When businesses come to Hawaii, those that take the time to honor and respect local culture, traditions, and values prosper. We have a saying in Hawaii about opening doors. If you kick open the door, the door may shut quickly and permanently but if you humbly and respectfully knock, we will hold the door wide open for you.