Expecting sabotage in times of change

Posted August 14, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Business

Tags: , , ,

“You have not succeeded until you survive the sabotage.”


I was listening to a keynote presentation by Tod Bolsinger, MDiv, PhD about leadership in times of change, and this declaration made me straighten in my seat.


Bolsinger had been taking us on an attention-capturing, engaging, and often humorous journey to give us a description of leadership as taking people where they need to go, but resist going.


He walked us through the idea that “Leadership is energizing a community of people toward their own transformation in order to accomplish a shared mission in the face of a changing world.” He explained that you can’t just try harder – you need a new way of leadership. And he offered insight for forging the way through “uncharted territory.”


I didn’t expect him to declare that leaders have not succeeded in changing an organization until they survived the sabotage. I didn’t expect to hear that “sabotage” is normal – a common reaction by anxious people when they encounter uncertainty. And I didn’t expect to learn that the sabotage is not from competitors or “outsiders” – it’s usually caused by the very people who supported change in the first place.


Bolsinger didn’t spend much time talking about how to deal with sabotage. He moved on to talking about why we become leaders in the first place, what leadership requires, and a reminder that with change, everybody must be changed – especially the leaders.


“Sabotage” might be a harsh word for second thoughts, for last-minute caution, or for a sudden fear that the change could make things worse.


But the idea of sabotage stuck with me. I wondered whether I have purposefully or unintentionally sabotaged someone else’s drive for change. I wondered whether I have sabotaged myself when I tried to change my circumstances.


Just as we have a “devil’s advocate” to argue for to argue for an alternate cause, maybe leaders should look for a loyal saboteur to point out the ways that proposed changes might be undermined or opposed. When we expect resistance, it might be easier to overcome – and we might take it less personally.


Are there changes that you supported at home, at work, or in the community, but that you later opposed? What made you change your mind? Are there times you sabotaged yourself?


Trading cars for bus passes and bicycles

Posted August 7, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community

Tags: , , , ,

There are more and more options to get around Oahu today. TheBus is a solid public transportation system. Uber and Lyft give us a choice of rides. There are more bike lanes and Biki racks. There’s even a car sharing service in Honolulu and Waikiki.

Maybe Oahu is ready to take the next step: trading cars for shoes, bicycles, and bus passes.

To encourage people to give up their cars and trucks, and encourage people not to purchase their own vehicles, we could come up with a trade-in program.

Here’s how it could work: A Hawaii resident and registered car owner with a valid Hawaii driver’s license, with a vehicle in working condition, would agree to sell or donate their current vehicle. They would agree not to purchase or register a vehicle for at least 10 years.

In return, drivers and their household, up to two adults and two youth living at the same residential address, would receive two benefits:

1) Free bus passes for 5 years. Currently, TheBus annual bus passes cost $770 per year for adults and $385 for youth ages 6-17. Total cost: up to $2,310 per year or up to $11,550 for 5 years. In Honolulu, if and when rail transit is complete, there could be an option to choose rail passes.

2) One free bicycle registration per person, which would be redeemed within the first 5 years. Currently, the City and County of Honolulu charges a one-time fee of $15 and a fee of $5 when transferring ownership. Total cost: up to $60.

If the car owner registered another motor vehicle in Hawaii within 10 years, the cost of any bus passes and bicycle registration fees that were waived would be added to the first year’s motor vehicle registration fee.

There are three main benefits to an auto trade-in program:

* Improved traffic. With fewer vehicles on the road, traffic would hopefully remain the same (it could possibly get better), decreasing our commute times. In 2015, there were 1,242,319 vehicle registrations in Hawaii, according to the US Department of Transportation; though not all of the vehicles are regularly driven.

* Longer-lasting roads, maybe. With less traffic, the roads might last longer, or need less frequent maintenance, or be repaired with less inconvenience to drivers.

* Easier parking. With fewer cars, parking might be a little easier to find, especially in areas like downtown Honolulu or Waikiki where parking is limited – and expensive.

The program would have an impact on the fees and taxes collected in Hawaii:

* Decreased driver’s license fees collected. This impact may be limited, as the driver’s license is a widely-accepted form of photo identification. Currently, the driver’s license fee is $40 for drivers ages 25-71 and is valid for 8 years. In 2015, there were 909,797 registered driver’s licenses in Hawaii, according to the US Department of Transportation.

* Decreased vehicle registration fees and vanity license plate fees collected. Motor vehicle registration for a mid-sized car in Honolulu might cost between $300 and $400 per year.

* Decreased gas taxes collected. In 2015, the Hawaii state tax rate on gas was $0.17 per gallon, plus general excise tax, and motor fuel use was 519,194 gallons, according to the US Department of Transportation.

* Decreased bus pass fees collected. Plus, we may need to add more buses. Currently, annual ridership on TheBus is over 68 million.

* Decreased bicycle registration fees collected. The impact would be nominal.

Two major questions would need to be answered: Can we afford this program? And what would we do with the automobiles that are traded-in?

Do you think this would be an effective way to reduce the number of cars on Hawaii roads? What would make you trade your car for a bus pass?

“Local Boy” by Fred Hemmings

Posted August 4, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Book Reviews

Tags: ,

“Local Boy: A Memoir” (2017) by surfer and Hawaii State Senator Fred Hemmings (1946-) is an optimistic and nostalgic memoir about his life. “The years of my life defy my wildest dreams,” Hemmings writes, and humbly admits, “I consider myself a blessed person.” His brief, talk-story reminiscences draw us into his life, punctuated with family photos.

“Life’s treasures in so many ways are not necessarily any great achievement but, rather, the valiant efforts.” The memoir begins with “Small Kid Times” in the 1940s. Hemmings is the son of four generations of canoe steersmen and steerswomen. He lived in Kahala and Kuliouou and Kuapa Pond, surviving polio, and attended Punahou School. He reflects, “The true strength of any nation or culture can be found in the hearts of its people.”

“Enjoying the simple things – like the fellowship of surfing with friends – that are life’s greatest riches.” Hemmings enjoys the a life-long appreciation for the outdoors, as a surfer who grew up in the shadows of Duke Kahanamoku and his friends, a football player, a competitive runner who once ran a marathon on a bet, a canoe paddler who learned that you should always take risks when you are behind, and an accident-prone do-it-yourself yard worker. He even relates an unexpected meeting with heiress Doris Duke.

“Politics is not a dirty word.” Hemmings shares some of his experiences in the Hawaii State Senate (1984-1990), where he stood up against corruption and death threats. I was intrigued by his 2006 proposal to diversity Hawaii’s economy by creating a College of Sports at the University of Hawaii, with three areas of study: 1) sports management, coaching, and sports facility management; 2) sports medicine, science, and technology; and 3) sports marketing, merchandising, communication, and history.

Hemmings reveals a wonderful way to view the world and our purpose in life: “When I arrived where I wanted to be, I stopped my quest and pursued different challenges.” Or to put it in surfing terms, “One great wave is better than many good waves.”

For a preview of the book and videos, visit Hemmings’ website at http://www.fredhemmings.com.

Creating a healing workplace

Posted July 31, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Business

Tags: , , ,

Two years ago, I got lost on my way to a job interview. I saw the company sign, but the arrow pointed to a locked gate. I didn’t know how to find my way around, and there didn’t seem to be anyone I could ask. Even though I arrived early, I was a few minutes late to the interview.

I remembered this experience as I took a free online class on “Spirituality, Health, and Healing” through Gale Courses and the Hawaii Public Library, and reached a lesson titled “Sacred Spaces, Healing Places.”

Before I took this course, I knew that we change our homes and workplaces to make us feel more comfortable, to reflect our personality, or to create positive energy and balance (such as the Chinese practice of feng shui).

But I didn’t consider that our home and workplaces also have a strong impact on our health and can actually promote healing. “Healing environments play a vital role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and are just as important as eating properly, exercising regularly, practicing proper health care, and having meaningful relationships and support systems,” the instructors explain.

Here are a few of the elements in creating a healing environment:

Space clearing. Clearing the space removes clutter, purifies the energy and space, and ‘opens’ it to new possibilities and healthy interactions.” Common practices include clearing desks, organizing shelves, and removing old or unused objects. This is one of the first things I do when I start a new job: make sure that I know where things are, and remove things I don’t need.

Color. It’s one of the first things we notice in a room. “Color has the ability to influence our perception of the shape and size of a room, shape our emotions, influence our moods, and shape our spiritual receptivity.” Warmer colors (peach, soft yellows, color) can stimulate our appetites and encourage alertness, creativity, and socialization. Blues, greens, and violets can be restful and contemplative, and can help reduce fatigue. Most workplaces choose a neutral wall color and rely on furniture, pillows, art, and flowers as accent colors.

Lighting. We need light for both health and safety. Healthy lighting features include providing overhead and task lighting, keeping lighting levels consistent and adjustable, using natural light as often as possible, and preventing glare.

Furnishings. Furniture, flooring, accessories, art, and flowers can “contribute to comfort and a sense of safety.” Some examples are clocks and calendars to reduce a feeling of disorientation, break areas for visitors, and comfortable upholstery.

Wayfinding. Wayfinding is “knowing where you are, knowing your destination, following the best route, recognizing your destination, and finding your way back out.” It involves details like clear signage and maps, landmarks such as artwork or unique design features, and color-coded areas. Better wayfinding would have addressed the confusion I felt when I arrived for that job interview I mentioned earlier. In fact, it’s one of the things I’m still trying to improve.

Creating a healing workplace makes good business sense too. I think we can all agree that first impressions matter. “Well-designed, healing environments have also been shown to be cost-effective and improve staff retention,” the instructors declare. An office that is easy to find, safe, comfortable, and welcoming makes a good first impression on both visitors and employees. It can build trust and a sense of belonging.

Does your workplace promote healing? What could you do to make visitors and co-workers feel more welcome?

Online classes at the public library

Posted July 24, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Education

Tags: , , ,

To earn the “Turn Up the Techno” badge, one of the activities is to learn something new. You’re supposed to click on the ‘Learn’ tab of the library website to find online classes. So I did, and I ended up registering for a couple of online classes. Well played, Summer Reading Program!

I was impressed by the variety of online courses available, accounting, business, and technology to healthcare, languages, and writing. Some of them even offer certificates of completion.

There are a lot of free and paid online classes available, but the Gale Courses are free, have courses I want to take, and – most importantly – let me support the Hawaii State Public Library System. I’m sure that library funding is helped by the number of library users, borrowed books, and services used, so this is a small way to support our public libraries.

I signed up for a class in “Spirituality, Health, and Healing.” It is a six-week self-directed, reading-intensive course with a clear syllabus, twelve lessons, a 30-question test at the end of each lesson, and an open discussion area where you can talk with the instructor and other students. There are no assignments, other than some optional self-assessments within the lessons. Other classes may be set up differently.

The course covers topics such as the characteristics of spirituality, rituals, culture, assessment, grieving, and aging. It emphasizes that spiritual well-being is the ability to find meaning, value, and purpose in life and thus to feel content, fulfilled, and happy. It teaches students about different faiths in a respectful and inclusive way.

The conviction that one of the healthcare provider’s first duties is to inspire hope – not for a cure, but for healing – resonated with me. I work at a small healthcare office, and I am learning that healing is a continual process, a transformative process.

The instructors were responsive and encouraging. They also included some self-assessment questions that really made me thing about my own views about life, spirituality, and dying. I think that living in a multicultural state like Hawaii makes some of the material easier to absorb and more familiar.

I’ve already signed up for a few other classes over the next months (and I earned the “Turned Up!” badge). If anyone is in the “Leadership” class, maybe we’ll meet up in the Discussion Area.

Have you ever completed an online class? Do you think that online classrooms are effective? Which courses would you recommend?

Walking through a life in the Dominican Republic

Posted July 17, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Community

Tags: , ,

I’m always on the look-out for family events that are educational, free or low-cost, and nearby. I had never heard about The Compassion Experience before, but I was immediately drawn to the idea of showing people what it is like to live in poverty in another country.


When I told my family that I registered us for The Compassion Experience, they were skeptical. As we were walking through Chinatown in Honolulu, my husband told me, “We don’t need to go to the Experience. We can see poverty right here.”


Hawaii struggles with poverty and homelessness, but we also have strong social support programs and public assistance. I wanted to show my son what poverty could be like in developing countries. I told them it would take just 15 minutes of our time.


We pulled into the parking lot in mid-afternoon, immediately drawn to the large draped container emblazed with the logo. The tent was hot, even with a portable air conditioning unit running, and well-lit, with uniformed staff and volunteers. The tent walls featured information, photos, and maps of the Philippines and the Dominican Republic, where the two experiences take place.


As we waited, we learned that over 700 million people in developing countries live on less than $1.90 per day. In the Dominican Republic, 41% of people live in extreme poverty.


We checked in, received clean headphones and an iPod, and walked up the steps to through the curtain-draped opening to experience Jonathan’s Story of living in the Dominican Republic.


As we entered each room, which has a scene from his life, we listened to Jonathan’s words. He talked about selling fruit juice to earn money for himself and his mother (opening the small money box was one of the first things my son did), getting an education through Compassion International, pressure from local gangs to steal, and coping with his father’s anger and rejection. He highlighted the support of a special mentor who helped him turn his life around. We watched a video that showed Jonathan as an adult who has become a mentor himself.


The rooms re-create Jonathan’s childhood. There are worn shoes with cardboard soles, Dominican pesos in a money box, plates of beans and rice, posters in Spanish, and photographs. What really struck me was seeing hanging wall pockets filled – not with pencils or ID cards – but toothbrushes. It has some serious themes that may not be appropriate for young children.


I knew when I signed up that the Compassion Experience is a Christian organization with a child sponsorship program, but I was taken aback by how much Experience emphasizes God. I expected a stronger focus on poverty. The website tells us a little more – half of the country doesn’t have access to clean water or sanitary toilets. In rural areas, five out of ten children are school drop-outs. The poverty rate has been improving in recent years


As we left, I was a little uncomfortable by the push to sponsor a child. I think it would have been better to let the photos of children speak for themselves.


The Compassion Experience will be in Hawaii for the next few weeks. I think it’s a valuable way to teach children and remind ourselves that poverty is a global problem. We face the same struggles, have the same fears, and feel the same need to give and receive compassion. And with help, people can make their lives better.

13 candidates, 3 hours, 1 night

Posted July 10, 2018 by Rachelle Chang
Categories: Government

Tags: , ,

Election signs are popping up along sidewalks, sign wavers are standing along the road during the morning commute, and political debates are underway.

On July 2, 2018 Hawaii News Now broadcast a “Super Debate” with the Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, senator, and governor. It was sponsored by Kamehameha Schools and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).

I thought the Super Debate was a good idea at first – I could listen to candidates from the three major races. But I didn’t factor in fatigue; my attention span was around 120 minutes. By the time the gubernatorial debate was up, I was ready for a break.

That’s why I’m writing this post a week after the Super Debate – I needed some time to think about what the candidates said, and what I heard.

Notes about the lieutenant governor debate:

* What they said: Former state Senator Will Espero emphasized affordable housing and corrections reform (prisons). State Senator and Doctor Josh Green emphasized homelessness and the opioid epidemic (healthcare). Former school board member Kim Coco Iwamoto stressed government accountability. State Senator Jill Tokuda emphasized education. Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho was charming.

* What I heard is that all of the issues will require more spending and higher taxes. Only Iwamoto admitted that she supports higher taxes on corporations and nonresident homeowners.

* In the open forum, it was interesting to see which candidates jumped up to answer first.

* It was surprisingly civil, though candidates sometimes side-stepped the questions or spoke longer than their allotted time in the open forum.

Notes about the congressional debate:

* What they said: Former Congressmember Ed Case emphasized his experience and willingness to compromise. Lieutenant Governor and former Attorney General Doug Chin supports a single-payer healthcare system. State Representative Beth Fukumoto focused on free college, federal recognition of Native Hawaiians, and Medicare for all. State Representative Kaniela Ing emphasized free college, an anti-corporation stance, federal jobs for all, and Medicare for all. State Senator Donna Mercado Kim emphasized her experience. Councilmember Ernie Martin impressed me by stating that people should earn a free college education.

* What I heard is that many of the candidates support debt-free college and Medicare for all (a single-payer healthcare system), which means raising taxes.

* One of the candidates raised the issue of the Medicare and Social Security crisis. No one mentioned that this is a crisis that was created by government. Both public assistance programs were designed as pay-it-forward programs, in which younger generations support older generations.

* This was arguably the most exciting debate, with two verbal sparring matches: Ing vs. Fukumoto and Case vs. Kim.

Notes about the gubernatorial debate:

* What I heard: nothing really surprising. Congressmember Colleen Hanabusa asked about the false missile alert, challenging Governor David Ige’s leadership skills and aptitude; he answered that he was leaving the house for an event, and he turned around and went back inside to make phone calls. Governor David Ige asked about the Ko Olina tax credit, challenging Congressmember Colleen Hanabusa’s integrity; she answered by saying that the tax credit showed that Waianae is business-friendly, and the developer only used a small portion of the tax credit.

Some of the commercials were refreshing and positive, like messages from the Hawaii Community Foundation (giving to nonprofits), Legacy of Life Hawaii (organ donation), Hawaii Fido Service Dogs, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, and Catholic Charities; but I wish they had excluded all the political commercials.

What is your opinion of a three-hour Super Debate format? Which candidates surprised you or gained your support?