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The Leader as Kipuka (Create your Kipuka, Part II)

The Leader as Kipuka (Create your Kipuka, Part II)

Last Thursday, we talked about creating a haven of creativity and rejuvenation for ourselves, called Kipuka in Hawai‘i. I had ended my article asking you to consider how people can be like the Kipuka, those verdant oases of life in scorched lava fields which hold the promise of what will flourish and grow once more.

The common name they may go by in our normal awareness? Leaders. Held within them is the promise of a future the rest of us may not sense yet. They lead in that they start to move toward it before the rest of us do, and they are so certain and self-assured, so positive and full of energy, that they pull us along with them. We follow very willingly, feeling comfortable in their confidence.

What we do sense, is that within their Kipuka a spot will be made for us to take root, find nourishment in fertile ground, and grow too. We are sure they will add some richness to our lives.

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These leaders are not always larger than life. They are not always older, better traveled, or more experienced than we are. In fact, they could even be our children. They are leaders who may not have a title of leadership, but they act like leaders, and so in our picture frame of our present world, that’s who they are. That’s who we want them to be.

“Leadership is about getting things done with others and through others, and as such, aspiring to leadership is not a goal or quality reserved for those with title, position, or power. Conversely, when you have been one to demonstrate your leadership, people take notice you have it, and those promotions of title, position, and power will find you.”
—Managing with Aloha, on Alaka‘i, the Hawaiian value of Leadership

So if title can’t clue you in to recognize leadership when you see it, what does? The vegetation on the Kipuka stands out so remarkably when it is surrounded by nothing but hardened black lava. The best leadership is not as obvious in our everyday consciousness. How can you get better at putting yourself in the company of the leaders worth following, the ones who will mean something great in your life? What does “great leading” look like to you?

If you feel you have an answer, or a story to share, do share it with us here.

Why? So we can learn from the great leaders of our world, and try to be like them.

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You see I believe that a) leadership matters, and b) that leading is something we can all do. As I wrote in Managing with Aloha, titles and positions of power are irrelevant. As a coach, I want to help people lead when they feel the calling to do so. As a member of the human race, I want more of us to lead effectively when we believe we can, and when we should. I long for us to be more impatient, lead more often and in more small ways, so we can banish apathy and complacency.

It seems to me that we tend to think of leadership as way bigger than it really is in real-life, normal practice. I like the thought that we can each be the best in some way and with some thing, when we choose to excel at those things we can do, and do exceptionally well, versus striving to be the best with what might be out of our league.

I don’t think that’s a condescending thought at all; it’s liberating. What it means to me is that we can all stop waiting for a looming presence of leadership to come save us, excite us, or otherwise rock our world. We can do it ourselves in whatever small ways we can, just like the Kipuka, seemingly alone and small in the vast destruction of rivers of lava. Because of the Kipuka life does not end. Because of us, possibility never ends.

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Everything is impossible unless the first person does it. Will you be that person?

Article References:
Create your Kipuka
“Great Leading” means what, exactly?

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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