Making kindness your new normal

Posted November 13, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community

Tags: , , ,

She seemed a little tired, so I reached out and gave her a “kindness card.” I can’t remember what I wrote on it, but I remember the big smile on her face after she read it.

It was the best moment of my day.

It happened because I accepted the Greater Good Science Center’s kindness practice challenge. Instead of doing random acts of kindness, I would do five acts of kindness in one day. The idea was to promote kindness and boost my own happiness too.

Researchers believe that random acts of kindness make you feel happier because it makes you think more highly of yourself and become more aware of positive social interactions.

I did small acts of kindness, everyday kindness, like letting cards merge into the lane, opening a door for a senior, and volunteering extra hours at my workplace.

I also made a plan to share kindness in a deliberate way, not just random acts. I decided to create “kindness cards” that my organization could give out at a local expo. I would write a kindness card for them or give them a kindness card to give to others.

I wrote things thinks like, “You are beautiful, inside and out” and “You are stronger than you know” and “You are thoughtful and kind – keep smiling!”

That day of five kindnesses really brightened my whole week.

Today, November 13, is World Kindness Day. Let’s make kindness a normal part of our day, every day.

Here are seven ways to start making kindness the norm in your daily life, from the Kind Blog on RandomActsofKindness.org:

  1. Send an uplifting text to a friend or family member.
  2. Let that guy merge into traffic with a wave and a smile.
  3. Include intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight in your daily routine.
  4. Go slightly out of our comfort zone at least once a day to make someone smile.
  5. Share a compliment with a co-worker or friend.
  6. Reach out to a family member you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  7. Treat someone to a cup of coffee (a friend, a stranger, or even yourself).

What acts of kindness do you treasure? How can you be kind today? How can you foster kindness in children?

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Practicing gratitude at the airport

Posted November 6, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Health

Tags: , ,

When I was young, family and friends walked us to the airport gate and waved goodbye. When we returned, they met us at the gate with flower lei and hugs.

Today, to pass airport security, we carefully measure liquid toiletries, stand in line like cattle, open our bags for inspection, and take off our shoes. We walk through full-body scanners and are subject to random searches.

All of this doesn’t make me feel safer or welcome. It made me feel like a criminal before I even reach the airport gate – anxious, stressed, and powerless.

But after participating in an online course, “The Science of Happiness,” for a few weeks, I realized that I didn’t have to feel that way. While I don’t have the power to change the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) procedures, I can change how I react to them.

I have the power to change my attitude.

I can acknowledge that there is a positive outcome for me personally by going through airport security. I can appreciate that TSA representatives are trying to act in my best interests.

So the next time I had to go to the airport, I tried to put myself in a grateful mindset.

Grateful that TSA is working hard to keep us safe in airports.

Grateful that TSA is professional, competent, and courteous.

Grateful that we pass through security with rules and rights.

Grateful that we have clean, air-conditioned check-points.

Grateful that all of my belongings are returned to me intact.

Grateful that we have the privilege to fly by airplane.

On my last trip, I thought about the things I was grateful for. I felt calmer as I approached the security check-point. I was able to breathe easier and felt less anxious.

By changing my mindset to one of gratitude, I had a more relaxed and pleasant airport experience.

How often do you travel by airplane? How would you describe your experiences with airport security? What can you do to improve those experiences?

“The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle

Posted November 3, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Book Reviews

Tags: , , ,

Why do certain groups add up to be greater than the sum of their parts, while others add up to be less?

Daniel Coyle invested four years of research attempting to answer this question. He studied eight successful groups and their top-performing cultures, and shares the results of his research in “The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups” (2018).

Working at a company with multiple locations, where many of my co-workers don’t come to the main office at the same time, I was motivated to find out how we can become a stronger team. I wanted to learn how we can build a successful team and a successful culture.

“The Culture Code” is an engaging, easy to read guide with real-world examples of culture-building.  Coyle begins by defining culture as “a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are. It’s something you do.” Then he focuses on individuals (leaders) who built the organization’s culture from the top-down.

The first thing that I found compelling is the attention that successful organizations spend to find the right people. For example, Zappos offers a $2,000 bonus to trainees if they quit, which encourage people who don’t fit with the organization to self-identify and leave, while ensuring that the people who do accept the job are motivated to be there.

The second thing that resonated with me is that having a clear vision of a group’s purpose guides the way that the group responds to situations. Johnson & Johnson’s Credo, written by former chairman Robert Wood Johnson in 1943, helped them respond purposefully to the Tylenol tampering crisis in 1982. The Credo shaped their responses, so they could take action quickly, decisively, and ethically.

Successful groups master three crucial skills:

Skill #1: Build Safety. Are we safe? Are we connected? Do we share a future? Successful groups continually refresh and reinforce “belonging” cues such as energy, individualization, and future orientation. Three things that organizations can do: spotlight fallibility early on, so people know that it’s okay to make mistakes; embrace the messenger who shares bad news or gives tough feedback; and be painstaking in the hiring process.

Skill #2: Share Vulnerability. There is a strong link between vulnerability and cooperation – it creates a feeling of safety and connection. Three things organizations can do: make sure the leader is vulnerable first and often, becoming a role model for everyone else; overcommunicate expectations; and when forming new groups, focus on two critical moments – the first vulnerability and the first disagreement.

Skill #3: Establish Purpose. “Stories guide group behavior.” Successful groups create simple beacons that focus attention and engagement on the shared goal (purpose). They see ways to tell and retell their story. They highlight “Here is where we are” and “Here is where we want to go,” while identifying areas of high-proficiency and high-creativity. Three things organizations can do: name and rank your priorities; be 10 times as clear about your priorities as you think you should be; and figure out where your group aims for proficiency and where it aims for creativity.

Does your group or organization have a culture that makes you feel safe, connected, and engaged? What practices strengthen your group? What do you think are the best companies to work for?

How would you plan for climate change?

Posted October 30, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community, Government

Tags: , ,

If you have the chance, attend one of the Climate Action Plan public meetings that are happening across Oahu. Sponsored by the City and County of Honolulu’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency, the community events focus on the impact of climate change and how we can become more resilient.

 

Hawaii will always face disasters. The neighborhoods that bounce back from disasters are the neighborhoods that know each other, chief resiliency officer Josh Stanbro said. It starts with us.

 

Most of the meeting is spent playing the Emissions Reduction Game.

 

The game is a way for community members to think about how we should build a clean economy. It asks us to think about the long-term – what needs to happen in 2025 and 2035 to reach our goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. Where should Honolulu focus its resources? And just as important, what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint in Hawaii?

 

We gathered around tables set up with large “game boards” and placed strategy tiles on the board. For each of the target years, we had a limited number of projects that we could choose. The projects are all pre-selected, in five sectors: electricity, on-site energy, on-road, marine/off-road/waste, and aviation. The projects include Walk/Bike/Transit, Renewable Fuels, Building Energy Efficiency, Solar Farms, and Carbon Offsets. They are achievable and can successfully lower emissions.

 

The game encourages us to think strategically – the big picture, not the details. But it doesn’t take into account the City’s finances. So we didn’t consider project costs, either in direct costs (fees and taxes) or opportunity costs (projects that may not be funded).

 

We were supposed to think of our end goals, but I found myself wondering if we can afford to reach our goal by 2045. Are there cost-savings or crucial health and safety benefits from moving aggressively? Could a slightly longer time frame save us money and allow for new technologies to be tested that could help us reach our goal, making up for the time delay? I have to believe that the Resilience Office considered this, and felt that the 2045 target date is the most effective, efficient, and affordable choice.

 

One draw-back is that the projects were all pre-determined. There were no “write-in” tiles. We couldn’t suggest our own strategies or “jump ahead” to strategies that are only available in later years. For example, one strategy that was missing is limiting the number of people who can live in or visit Hawaii. This goes against the aloha spirit, could spell economic disaster, and may even be unconstitutional. But just as there are occupancy limits set by the Fire Code and a maximum capacity at Disneyland, limiting the number of people is an option.

 

In the end, what really struck me was realizing that we have the power to influence government. We can help government set priorities and policies, instead of waiting for government to tell us what to do. Whether it’s at a community meeting, public hearing, or our polling place, we just have to show up.

 

For more information about public meetings, community events, and resources, including a meeting about the City’s Multi-Hazard Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan on November 3, 2018, visit Resilient Oahu at http://www.resilientoahu.org.

Make a Difference Day in Hawaii

Posted October 23, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community

Tags: , , ,

Make a Difference Day continues to engage communities through Points of Light, an organization dedicated to volunteer service. On October 27, 2018, thousands of people will make a choice to give back to their local community – in Hawaii and around the world.

There are so many ways we can make a difference – through donations, time, expertise, or kindness.

You can make a difference by volunteering on Oahu on October 27:

Volunteer to help cleanup in Chinatown in Honolulu (with American Savings Bank and Kupu Hawaii), in community cleanups at Pearl Harbor Bike Path in Aiea, Lehua Avenue in Pearl City (with PCP CPO A and Nimitz Lions Club), Waipahu Depot Street in Waipahu (with Lighthouse Outreach Center), Aiea Kai Way in Aiea (with ATG MidPac), Aiea Bay State Recreation Area in Aiea (with USS CHAFFE), Neal S. Blaisdell Park and Puuloa Springs in Aiea (with The Mission Continues), Pupuole Mini Park in Waipahu (with Inspire Church and Waipahu Community Coalition), Pūpūkea-Paumalū State Park Reserve in Haleiwa, and Waimea Valley in Waimea.

You can make a difference on the Big Island on October 27:

UH Hilo students can work on various projects for a campus and community service day in Hilo.

You can make a difference by volunteering on Oahu on October 28:

Volunteer to help community cleanups at Banyan Street in Kalihi (with OceanTroller) and Palolo Stream in Palolo (with Trees to Seas).

You can make a difference on Hawaii coasts year-round:

I just learned about a Clean Swell app that lets you track the opala you collect or start your own clean up at a beach near you.

You can make a difference by forgiving someone who has harmed you – including your younger self:

I’ve been reading a little about forgiveness, I’ve learned that forgiveness does not mean condoning their actions or absolving them of guilt. Forgiveness is about you – about accepting that the transgression happened, reducing your need for punishment, and trying to feel compassion for the offender’s suffering.

How will you make a difference in Hawaii and in your life?

Hiring the right people

Posted October 16, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Business

Tags: , ,

The first time I had to hire someone, it was for a summer marketing internship position. The intern we hired didn’t have any marketing experience, and was actually on a business track at school, but I was open to working with someone who could bring a different perspective to marketing projects.

What mattered to me was whether they were intelligent, responsible, easy to work with, and willing to learn. Knowledge and skills were things they could gain on-the-job.

Years later, those are the same qualities that I still look for in an intern, but I’ve added something a little harder to quantify: whether they are a “good fit” for the organization. Now I ask why they want to work at the organization and whether they believe in what we are doing. I don’t expect them to have a “passion” for our mission – they’re interns, and their goal is to gain real-world experience – but they have to be open to and support what we’re trying to accomplish.

The stakes are higher when hiring an employee. Candidates and employers are both on their best behavior. I like the idea of asking questions to find out what really matters. Adam Bruan, founder of Pencils of Promise, asks “What do you love doing most?” to encourage people to share their goals and interests. Hopefully, it will be something that is a part of the job position – or something that could become a part of it.

Yet I’ve learned that sometimes, finding the right person isn’t enough. It has to be the right time for the employee and for the organization.

Last year, we hired someone who was qualified, enthusiastic, and a good fit for the organization. But their life circumstances changed, and the employee left after only a few months. It was a disappointing yet amicable parting.

Looking back, I also remember an employee who was an asset to the organization. But they became dissatisfied, and the organization didn’t act quickly enough to address their concerns. Both the employee and the organization were hurt by anxiety and broken relationships before they parted.

When James C. Collins wrote about good-to-great leaders “first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) in “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t” (2001), I realized exactly what he meant.

This week, I’m reminding myself how important it is to build a team of the right people in the right position at the right time.

Are you involved in hiring or managing people? What do you look for in new employees? How do you respond when life circumstances change or when people are no longer a good fit for an organization?

 

Artwork courtesy of All-Free-Download.com.

DNA and a culture of diversity

Posted October 9, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community, Family

Tags: , , , ,

In Hawaii, 24% of residents are a mix of two or more races (nearly one in four people), compared to 6.9% of the US adult population, according to a 2015 Pew Research report, “Multiracial in America.”

 

My family is a blend of heritages. Growing up in Hawaii, all of my friends were from mixed ethnic backgrounds too. I learned to focus on who people are, not what they look like.

 

I came to realize that, depending on who I was with, or whether I had a tan, people would perceive me in different ways. Walking with a Japan friend, some visitors have greeted in me in Japanese. Waiting with a Chinese friend, some people have talked to me in Chinese. (I don’t speak either language).

 

It gave me a kind of freedom in who I wanted to be, and which cultural traditions I choose to draw on.

 

In the past, my parents and I would sometimes speculate about our grandparents and great-grandparents, and try to do the math with percentages and blood quantum. It was like discussing sports statistics and betting odds (but a lot less intense).

 

Speculating about our heritage didn’t affect our family. I’m comfortable with who I am and I don’t need proof of where I came from. But one day, I found myself ordering a DNA kit from AncestryDNA.com. I was curious to see the results, and whether our idle speculation was on target.

 

One Sunday morning, I received the results of the DNA test. The results didn’t surprise me; the regional breakdown was about what I expected, though I hoped for more country-specific identification.

 

I didn’t feel any different about myself or my family.

 

A few days later, there was an update to my DNA results, based on more reference samples and addition regions. The regions were refined into estimated countries. This time, the refinement surprised me.

 

But I still didn’t feel any different about myself or my family.

 

Within a few generations from today, I think that most of the people living in urban areas will have mixed ethnic backgrounds. I don’t see it as losing a heritage; I see it as being connected to multiple heritages, and embracing a new culture of diversity.

 

If you have done a DNA test, how did you react to the results? Did it affect your self-identity? And for those who haven’t done a DNA test, what would make you consider it? What would you want to know about your ancestors?