Aloha (love) must precede our actions as leaders

Chapter 1, pages 4-5 from “Lead With Love by Gerry Czarencki

So, now what about the Hawaiians, and how can the residents of that far-off island chain be of any help? Hawaiians have a unique culture, formed by their great reliance on and attachment to the land. After the brutal consolidation of power by a warlord, King Kamehameha, the Hawaiian culture settled in for a long era of peace and relative prosperity. The culture created a sense of community and relied on a deep commitment to extended family. In addition, during that period, a culture that was highly isolated, yet homogeneous, became a culture of warmth and human sensitivity.

 This cultural fact was evidenced in many aspects of the language, but no single word reflected that culture more than the word aloha. Most modern-day visitors to the islands think of the word aloha as a greeting having one of two meanings, hello or goodbye. Indeed, that is the most common use of the word, but it is actually the least meaningful. In the Hawaiian culture, aloha has many meanings and many uses, but the true importance of the word rests in its use to mean “love.” When a Hawaiian says to you, “Aloha,” what is really being said is “I extend my sense and emotion of love to you.” If you are arriving, it means “welcome with love”; if you are departing, it means “go with love.”

 Indeed, those who have visited the islands may remember that the Hawaiian people express the culture as being a manifestation of the “Aloha Spirit.” Therein lays the true meaning. Aloha means that “I will live in and among my society with my fellow citizens with a spirit of love.” This is the true meaning of love for the Hawaiian culture. To live in love is to live at peace with oneself and with nature. It is this commitment to the love of humanity that defines the ancient Hawaiian culture, and it is this spirit of aloha that can define what is meant by love as the first principle of leadership.

 I do not want to suggest that the Hawaiian culture is one without conflict and tension. Indeed, in recent years, there has been great tension in the society. But the root of the ancient Hawaiian traditions is “aloha,” and the core values of the society demand a respect for humans and for nature. The small island state depends on a quality balance with nature and with the humanity assembled on their isolated islands. We in the rest of the world have much more opportunity to feel disconnected from each other and from nature, but the roots of our existence are embedded in each other and in nature as well.

 It is this connection with humans and the desire, even need, to love and be loved as humans that define our uniqueness as a species.

We may be the only species that feels this type of deep connection and that factor makes us need to complete ourselves by beginning all our relationships with a connection that the Hawaiians called “aloha.” It is this sense of aloha (love) that must precede our actions as leaders. When we feel that emotion, only then can we take actions that reflect a true concern for the humans over whom we maintain oversight, governance, and dominion. These functions are reliant on our ability to be servants to their needs while at the same time committing our energy to achieve the goals of the organization.

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