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Accountability One – Oh – One … Sunday Musings

October 28, 2007

“Make your kuleana pono. Then everything else follows.”

Bruddah Iz (Hawaiian singing legend Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)

Translation: “Be accountable. Keep your word. Stay in your integrity. And life will work itself out.” Pono (poh noh) means to make whole and complete, to bring back into harmony, to make right. Kuleana (koo lee ah nah) in Hawaiian means responsibility, job, that to which you are accountable.

Too many people spend their lives worrying about other people’s responsibilities and not paying attention to their own. I recall a pastor in Hawaii saying once, “If I’m living my life, and you’re living my life, who’s living YOUR life?”

Good question. Are you taking care of your responsibilities? Keeping your word? Paying attention to how your actions impact others? Are you doing what you said you would do? Or is it easier to pull others down a notch so people aren’t focusing on your missteps…

“Make your kuleana pono.” Good advice. Easier to say in Hawaiian. It’s easy to get frustrated with life. We are effectively all working at cross purposes with each other. After all, I need what I need and you need what you need. If we need different things and aren’t competing with each other, life is good. That is, unless we live in the same house or workspace and want to go in different directions — then we might try to get our own way at the expense of the other. “My way! No MINE!” Often no one wins those unless you have a strong commitment and understanding about compromise.

Some people think they ‘win’ by wearing the other person down, or arguing louder or more belligerently. What that really accomplishes in fact is a lessening of trust, hurt feelings, and a vow to simply not engage with that person again.

Maturity supposedly mitigates some of this behavior… then again, maturity is not all that common these days.

How do you know if your kuleana is pono? Ask yourself. That’s what I do. Think about a relationship or a situation…notice how you feel. Do you feel you did your best? Is there a sense of lightness? Or… is there a fist around your heart when you think about it? If there is, you need to do some work. It’s not pono yet. No criticism intended, just an observation of what is.

How do you attend to it and make it pono? It depends. Ask. “OK… I still don’t feel good about this. What do I need to do?” It might be as simple as forgive. Not “forgiveandforget” … Forgive and Remember. Let it go, and remember the lesson so you don’t have to repeat it.

It might be a letter needs to be written (and maybe not mailed…sometimes I do those and then put them in the fireplace.) Perhaps you just need to hunker down and finish what you said you’d do. And maybe you really really really don’t want this responsibility any more. Perhaps it’s time to tell the truth about that and see what can be done to share the burden or let it go.

What I know after many decades of trying to figure this life thing out is this:

When you keep your word; when you have integrity; when you live up to your responsibilities and take care of things… life is just easier. People trust you. You trust you. Self respect increases, and with it, self esteem.

“Make your kuleana pono.” You’ll sleep better at night.

Have a great week! don’t forget to checkout our World’s Biggest Blog Party and donate something to your favorite cause!

A hui hou, (till we meet again)



Beth Terry, CSP, is a Professional Speaker, Author, and Trainer who presents personal development and management training programs throughout the world.

Beth’s Website

© 2007 Beth Terry Seminars, Inc.

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