When I do book-signings for Managing with Aloha I am continually surprised by the different things people will dictate to me as the inscriptions they want when purchasing the book as a gift for someone else. I’ve even had someone ask me to sign it as Rosalie to pretend that my real name was the same as the person the book was intended for.

Other times, it’s extremely rewarding. I’m able to discover what the book has done for people oand what it has meant to them.

After a presentation I did last week, a young woman came up to me with two copies of my book. One was hers, and she took great delight in showing me how she had underlined and flagged any reference I’d made about my feelings that work is personal. There were stars and happy faces in bright colored pens all over page 97 where those three words show up as a chapter sub-heading. The second copy of my book was to be a gift for her dad. She’d flagged and highlighted the same parts, and she asked me to write,

“With my aloha for George, because work is so very personal. Ho‘ohana (work with passion, purpose, and full intention) and ‘Imi ola (seek your best life at work). It will lighten your load and make your heart sing, and it will make your daughter happy. Manage with aloha, and live with aloha, Rosa Say.”

She then explained how she’d had a long standing difference of opinion with her dad about how work was indeed such a personal thing for her, when he’d instead advised her repeatedly that she’d never be
a) happy that way or
b) thought of as professional enough by everyone else if she continued to think like that.

She felt that my book was a huge acknowledgement for her, that yes, she could be happy making her work personal, and she had every intention of doing so. As much as she loved and respected her dad, she wanted to be happy at work, and she wanted her work to be about her.

Well, this time, I happily did the inscription she wanted, because George, I do agree with your daughter. Work IS personal for people, and it always will be. It consumes a significant part of our lives, and because it affects so much of what we do, who we are, what we are identified with, and perhaps most importantly how we think, it is VERY personal. Generally my experience is that the more personal we allow our jobs to be, putting a signature on our work, the more fulfilling our professional roles tend to be for us.

Now I’ll grant you that there are many people who are much happier at work because they have deliberately worked at not making it personal. They prefer the detachment, or they have other good reasons why they’ve chosen to keep their work as separate as possible from the realm of their personal lives. If that works for them great, and I’m not one to argue the point and try to convince them that they are somehow deluded or cheating themselves out of richer possibilities (even when that might be my opinion.) However I’d bet they just have a job, not something they consider to possibly be their life’s work; build-a-legacy, make-a-difference work.

Where I strongly and vocally differ with George is in telling someone else who wants to personally invest in their work not to do so. For goodness sake, don’t be the one to rain on someone’s parade! I completely concur with these words written by Sally Hogshead:


“A career worth loving is not an indulgence, a privilege, or a fluke. Passion is an imperative. Joy is an imperative. Loving your career is a non-negotiable necessity for breaking through client and consumer skepticism. And for reaching your own greatest potential. And for making any kind of difference in this world.”

I’m with Sally, and I’m wholeheartedly in support of George’s daughter and all of you who want work to be personal. You better believe my work is personal and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love to teach timeless principles and mentor with values, and in particular, I love coaching managers. I love maximizing strengths in people and helping them in the self discovery of their innate talents. I love the science of business and the democracy of free enterprise, where ultimately the customer rules. I love reading, I love the written word and I love the study of how language can influence relationships between people. I love the new global possibilities of networking and the synergy of community. I love the notion that we can choose our own destiny and create it. I get passionate about all these things, and you bet I make them personal. By indulging my passions I gave life to Managing with Aloha.

Just imagine what you can do when you make your work personal.

Thank you for reading, I’ll be back next Thursday. On every other day, you can visit me on Talking Story, or on www.ManagingWithAloha.com. Aloha!

Rosa Say
, author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business

Previous Thursday Column:
The Real Rules of Engagement.

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