As you may know, PhoneSmart hosted the 2009 PhoneSmart Hawaii Un Conference on the Big Island of Hawaii in June.
The resort we stayed at had its own in-house cultural and spiritual advisor, whose job it was to make sure the resort respected Hawaiian culture and educated people about pre-contact Hawaii. The resort had several cultural sites, including aquaculture ponds that the ancient chiefs used to harvest fish for food and for ceremony.
The first Hawaiian settlers arrived on the Big Island in large double hulled canoes around the year 200 A.D.. They came with plants and pigs and the whole family. They sailed some 1,500 miles across open ocean from the Marquesas islands on pretty much a wing and a prayer. They landed on the Big Island which has been a semi active volcano for ever. Much of it is nothing but volcanic rock.
They not only survived, but thrived. They built an intricate society that developed in almost total isolation until 1782 when Captain Cook stumbled across the Island.
If you think you are faced with challenging times, a competitive environment and enormous risks, how would you fare if you landed on a huge rock of an island with a few pigs, some coconut palms and a passel of hungry and fidgety children?
If you think the changes of the last 27 years in society and business have been fast paced, imagine what the Hawaiian culture has gone through in the last 227 years? They went from stone age isolation to The Modern Age in a flash.
They went through lots of trouble and turmoil, but again…they not only survived, but they thrived.
Here are a few lessons to learn from the Hawaiians:
1. Learn to steer by the stars and the sea. Know your environment. Know the signs and be ready to react.
2. Come prepared. They brought their pigs and coconut trees along. What do you need to bring on your next business adventure.
3. Make the best of your situation. Where have you found yourself? What resources do you have at hand? How can you organize your society and start promoting prosperity? If the tide is scaring you, why not build tidal pools to grow more fish than you could ever eat?
4. Adapt while staying true to yourself. Hawaiians quickly learned to use firearms, steel tools and money. They learned to use outside knowledge to their advantage. Within 70 years of first contact, the Big Island had one of the most successful cattle industries anywhere. They did this by taking advantage of a bad situation and by getting outside help. Captain George Vancouver, who some of you in Canada may be familiar with, gave a gift of several heads of cattle to King Kamehameha. The cattle grazed freely, multiplied and were wreaking havoc among the farmers on the island. A young man who had jumped ship to seek his fortune on the island named Parker suggested the King get into the cattle business. The King agreed and recruited cowboys from Mexico who knew the trade to help. Then gold was discovered in California …and by chance, Hawaii had the easiest and quickest means to get cattle to California to feed the booming population. The Parker Ranch is still one of the largest ranches in the US. All the while, the Hawaiians retained much of their culture and heritage.
5. Beauty is not an option. The beautiful flowers of Hawaii, the colorful clothing and beautiful woodworking are all signs of how important beauty is to the daily life. So don’t forget that beauty is not an option.