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What Does Mālama Pono Mean, Especially When Applied to the Workplace?

Both Hawaiian language and culture can be so incredibly intricate and complex and, for somebody who perhaps did not grow up in or surrounded by this culture, there can be a lot of terms and concepts that are a bit difficult to navigate. That being said, with enough proximity to the culture, you’re bound to pick up a few words and phrases that seem to be used in nearly every conversation. One of these phrases is Mālama Pono [MA-LA-MA PO-NO].

To better understand the meaning of this phrase, we can break it down and look at each word. Mālama, roughly, means “to take care.” Pono can have a lot of different meanings, but it generally translates to “righteousness” or “goodness.” Put together, Mālama Pono is a common phrase used when parting, that roughly means “take care of yourself.” You will hear it tagged onto the end of conversations all of the time, since it is essentially a warm and polite way of saying “Goodbye, take care.”

Although it may seem trivial, this can be a much more important concept than we often give it credit for. If we remember our other important Hawaiian values, Aloha Kekahi I Kekahi specifically, we can remember that we are all on our own paths in this life. Each person is on their own journey, with their own challenges, and it is important that we look out for one another whenever possible. This also means that, when our paths cross, we are sharing in each other’s journeys, and we are able to make a difference in each other’s lives. When we part paths, then, we should and must hope that our friends can take care until we see them again. Mālama Pono.

How this applies in the workplace is a pretty simple extension. We all know that work isn’t always the most stress-free setting, which means that it is incredibly important to look out for one another in this context as well. Moreover, although you may share a common path during part of the day and week with your co-workers, each person in the workplace is still on their own path at home, in their social lives, etc. Looking out for one another while in the workplace is a great way of making sure your team isn’t taking home too heavy of a load to carry along their own journeys. And, of course, when it is time to part paths at the end of the workday, it is important to express that they take care. Once again, Mālama Pono.

Just like many of the other Hawai’ian values, there are many different ways this can be useful in the workplace and beyond. What are some ways you’d apply Mālama Pono at work?

Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May,  an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.

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