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What is the Hawaiian Practice of Ho’oponopono?

Living pono means living righteously, or, living in balance. This is something that everyone can both strive for and achieve, both in our personal and professional lives. There are plenty of Hawaiian philosophies and practices that can help achieve this balance. Ho’oponopono [ho’o-pō’-nŏ-pō’-no] is an important one of these.

As Kumu Sabra Kauka tells us, Ho’oponopono means, roughly, to put things back in place, or to make things right. As we strive towards a righteous and balanced life, we’re bound to make mistakes and, ultimately, hurt some of the important relationships we’ve made along the way. When these relationships are harmed, of course, there is a strain put on those affected. Some people must carry the burden of guilt, and others of blame, and balance is nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, however, balance can often be restored. This is the practice of Ho’oponopono. First, the harm must be recognized or acknowledged. The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing that there is one, after all. Second is the reconciliation which is both crucial and easier said than done—forgiveness is much more than just saying/receiving an “I’m sorry.” That being said, it is better to truly forgive someone than to continue carrying the weight of guilt or blame, because that is the only way to move forward and towards balance.

Ho’oponopono Applied in Business

Naturally, this same principle is both healthy and practical in a business sense as well. Not every business is showing constant growth, or is outperforming every other player in the market. This means that somewhere along the way, not all of the right shots are being called. These mistakes can be frustrating and costly, to be sure, but dwelling on these mistakes and leaving them unresolved can be so much worse.

Again, the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that there is one, and this is doubly important (and tricky) in business. Performance metrics can often let us know that a problem exists, but not necessarily what that problem actually is. Data analysis and other modern methods can be a shining light in these situations.

Once a problem is recognized, of course, the correct business move should be to work back towards balance. Recognizing but not fixing a problem would be costly, after all. In true Ho’oponopono fashion, of course, the strains created by these problems must also be addressed. If the business issue is fixed, but the workplace environment remains strained, then chances are that performance won’t be quite as smooth as usual.

There are many ways this Hawaiian value can take shape in our personal and professional lives. How are some ways you’ve “returned to balance” in your business efforts?  


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.

Finally, consider following the Living Pono Podcast to listen to episodes about living righteously, business management concepts, and interviews with business leaders.

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