Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific

Menosabes and Ohana

This week’s stories include an English, Hawai’ian, and Portuguese mistakes:

Story 1:

For a period of time, my dad worked as a caretaker for a state park. One day, while trimming some flowers, a tourist asked as to the kind of flowers they were. Not knowing, he replied, “Me no sabe,” which is Pidgin for “I don’t know.” This phrase is English (me) no (English) sabe (Portuguese). The tourist then turned to her companion and exclaimed, “Look at those pretty menosabes!”

Story 2:

A friend relayed the story of a discussion her grandfather was having with the family. He said, “Ano ohana o ki o tsukete.” The family interpreted this as “Take care of that flower,” because ohana is Japanese for flower. The family looked and looked in the garden for some indication of some special flower to keep their grandfather’s wishes. However as most people who have watched any Hawai’ian based movies know, ohana is the Hawai’ian word for family. So the grandfather was using Japanese and Hawai’ian to say “take care of the family.”

Cite: A Harvest of Hawai’i Plantation Pidgin: The Japanese Way by Myra Sachiko Ikeda

Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific


This month we have some fun with stories. Living in Hawai’i, I am pleased to live and work with an amazing blend of cultures. Because these blends have happened over the decades by people of different cultures who came to Hawai’i for a better life (see some of my June 2016 posts for Hawai’i history), blends of languages have been created. They call these blends Pidgin. People assume that Pidgin is broken English. However, when you look closer, it is a blend of multiple languages including English put together for quick responses in common conversations.  To quote the book, “No sta’ broke, bugga, work fine,” which translates into “No, it is not broken, it works fine so it doesn’t need any fixing.”

This book concentrates specifically on the Japanese culture. Enjoy this story of common mistakes with Japanese and English words.

Two haole (Hawai’ian for Caucasian) salesmen go to the plantation manager’s house. He happens to be Japanese. His mother comes out and they say to her, “Can we see your son?” She looks at them and says, “Wakaran” which is Japanese for “I don’t know” because she doesn’t understand the English language and doesn’t know what they are saying. Fifteen minutes later they come back and ask her again. She looks at them and again says, “Wakaran” because she still doesn’t know what they are talking about. When they go back the third time, her son is home. He tells them, “Oh I just came home. This was good timing on your part.” And they reply, “No we’ve been here for a while.” Curious he asks, “What were you doing?” They replied, “Oh we were doing what your mother told us to do, we were walking around.” 

Cite: A Harvest of Hawai’I Plantation Pidgin: The Japanese Way by Myra Sachiko Ikeda


Posted in leadership, self-improvement

12 Questions

To summarize the month on Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, here is a reminder of the twelve questions you should keep close to your desk or workstation:

  1. What do I want?
  2. What assumption am I making?
  3. What am I responsible for?
  4. How can I think about this?
  5. What is the other person thinking? Feeling? Wanting?
  6. What am I missing or avoiding?
  7. What can I learn from this person? This situation? This mistake? This failure? This success?
  8. What questions should I ask myself? Others?
  9. How can I turn this situation into a win-win one?
  10. What possible?
  11. What are my choices?
  12. What action steps make the most sense?

Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, self-improvement


Einstein wrote, if I had one hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes asking questions and 5 minutes solving the problem. This is called Q-storming. Instead of braining-storming answers, next time try brain-storming questions. Here’s how:

1. Describe the problem
2. Describe the goal for change
3. Ask first person questions – How do I…? How do we…?

It’s that simple. Great results start with great questions. Here are some starter points when beginning the group discussion:
1. How would I find out what I don’t know if I don’t ask?
2. How can you get the best answers without first asking the best questions?
3. Every question missed is a potential crisis waiting to happen.

While helping your group Q-storm, consider some of these:
1. How do we get past what is blocking us?
2. How can we meet our target?
3. What do we want to change?
4. What don’t we want to change?
5. What can I do to be more creative?
6. What will help us make the best contribution?
7. What do others have to offer?
8. What assumptions am I making about
a. Myself?
b. Others?
c. What is not true now?
d. Available resources?
e. What’s impossible?
f. What’s possible?

Remember leadership is as much about who you are as what you do. This is listed in a quote by Schein that states, “The only real importance that leaders do is create and manage culture.” To work toward this, remember a question not asked is a door not opened, so Question Everything!

Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, self-improvement

Switching Lanes from Judger Leader to Learner Leader

“To choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances is to choose one’s own way.” – Victor Frankl

Thoughts set intention. Learner questions program us with a positive intention for the right attitude and moves toward an outstanding performance. Whenever feeling yourself going into judger leader, switch lanes by asking yourself:

  1. What will serve me best right now?
  2. Am I being honest with myself?
  3. What do I really need?
  4. What can I do to feel better that doesn’t include eating?
  5. Instead of saying who’s to blame, ask what am I responsible for?

Blame keeps us in the past. Responsibility paves the path for a better future. Switching is what makes it possible to change. Switching makes it easier when you follow your A, B, C, and Ds.

  • Aware – Am I a judger? Is this working?
  • Breathe! – Do I need to step back, pause, and gain perspective?
  • Curiosity – What’s really going on? – With me? With others? With the situation?
  • Decide – What is my decision? What action do I choose?

Remember Learner begets learner and judger begets judger. We don’t have much control over what happens, but we can choose how we relate to what happens. So, accept the judger and practice the learner. Ask, what do I appreciate about my team? What are the strengths of each one? How can I collaborate with them more productively? How can we stay on the learner path together?

When frustrated with a situation or a person, remember the three primary questions:

  1. What assumptions am I making?
  2. How else can I think about this?
  3. What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?


Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, self-improvement

Are You a Judger or a Learner?

The secret of being really effective and satisfied with our lives begins when we decide to be a judger or a learner. This is part of question thinking as discussed in a previous blog: post= 7491&action=edit Once you understand your mindset, you can choose which questions you want to ask. “Change your thinking, change your results.” Remember, “No one can help anyone else from a judger place.” So, instead of asking

  • What’s wrong with me (judger), ask
    • What do I value about myself (learner)?
  • What’s wrong with him (judger), ask
    • What do I appreciate about him (learner)?
  • Whose fault is it (judger), ask
    • Am I being responsible (learner)?
  • How can I prove I’m right (judger), ask
    • What’s useful? What can I learn (learner)?
  • Why is she so clueless and frustrating (judger), ask
    • What is she thinking? Feeling? Wanting? (learner)
  • We’ve done that already (judger), ask
    • What are the best steps forward?
  • Why bother? (judger), ask
    • What’s possible (learner)?

More learner questions:

  • What happened?
  • What do I want?
  • What’s useful about this?
  • What can I learn?
  • What are my choices?
  • What’s best to do now?
  • What’s possible?


Judger mindset (being judgmental) is the enemy of good judgment.

Accept the judger mindset when it comes up so you can release it, but practice the learner mindset moment by moment by moment.

Change begins with the person who wants the change.


 Cite: Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life by Marilee Adams. Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2015

Posted in leadership, spiritual/religious

Thoughts, Actions and Memories

Over 2,000 years ago, one of my favorite Greek Philosophers, Epictetus, stated that people are disturbed “Not by things, but by the views we take on them.” A thousand years later, Shakespeare, in Hamlet, wrote, “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” And even Solomon in Proverbs wrote, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

As a child, I grew up with 4 flags, the American flag, the Kentucky state flag, the Christian flag, and the Confederate flag. The Confederate flag was an artifact of heritage pride. Even though Kentucky was a border state, it presented as southern. As a child, this was a simple association as was being a female child.

As I grew, I watched white power protesters claim the Confederate flag as their own. They associated it with hateful language, physical pain, and murders directed at innocent people. Just as the Nazis took over the swastika symbol, which was originally a Jewish symbol (something I didn’t know until I traveled to Israel), the Confederate flag was commandeered as a symbol of bigotry, racism, and death of innocents. So, as I grew and understood, I removed the Confederate flag from my things. Though I had one in innocence, I could no longer keep one and be innocent.

In the last few decades, Christendom has been hijacked by bigots and racists. I cringe as I watch hateful words, dangerous actions, and murders in the name of Love of Jesus Christ. These people are not performing Christ-like acts, but by using the name of Christian for their atrocities, they are marking all Christians with their hate and shameful acts, just as the white power people mark all southerners with their hate and shameful acts.

While there are many southerners who are excellent role models for being a real loving, generous southerner, and excellent Christians providing role models for being Christ-like Christians, I wonder, will the haters win? According to the ancient philosophers quoted at the top of this post, they only win if we view the actions of a few and judge everyone with it. For all who are working hard at trying to live a good life, a Christ-like life, I hope people can see beyond the actions of the haters toward the actions of people making positive changes every day.

 CITE: Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns, M.D.