Maximizing the Mission through Motivation


Leina‘ala Ahu Isa, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

Our mission, as quoted from OHA’s website: “To mālama Hawaiʻi’s people and environmental resources, and OHA’s assets, toward ensuring the perpetuation of the culture, the enhancement of lifestyle and the protection of entitlements of Native Hawaiians, while enabling the building of a strong and healthy Hawaiian people and lāhui, recognized nationally and internationally.”

Welina me ke Aloha!

As I write this article, it is a day after our first Board of Trustee meeting involving our newly elected Trustees, and our new Chairperson, Trustee Hulu Lindsey, who has just informed me of the Ad Hoc Committee on Maunakea, and the Ad Hoc Committee on Kakaʻako Makai/Nā Lama Kukui.

Trustees have a fiduciary duty not only to mālama, but to maximize, our trust funds.

Our “mission” must also be to make sure that they are kept safe into perpetuity so that our generations to come will not go without. Our members will spend time in deliberation, intentional listening, and making decisions that will move OHA forward in its overall mission of carrying out our fiduciary duties. Mahalo nui also to Kamaka Mahi Gunderson for all her help.

Choices can be driven from the inside, or from the out.

The impetus to action can arise extrinsically, from sources outside an individual, to gain a reward or avoid a punishment. Or it can arise from within (intrinsically), related to (a) authentic needs or as (b) a reaction to imposed control. An attempt to impose control may work for a time, but later backfires when the reward or punishment is no longer supplied.

Edward Deci, a humanistic psychologist whose work is often quoted, makes a strong case that self-determination trumps control when teachers, parents, or managers are trying to promote responsible decision-making. The most authentic power driving choices, he believes, arise when you understand your needs and act in ways that serve those needs. Find details in his book “Why We Do What We Do: Understanding Self-Motivation” (Penguin Books, 1996)

As a former professor, I want to share with you what I tell my students: “Some of you will find my class materials and topics more difficult than others. Indeed, some of you will struggle. But know this: it is my job to support your struggle; and every one of you will exit my class more knowledgeable about the content, better able to navigate it, and a more competent navigator of academics in general, than when you first walked in that door.”

And I leave you with one of my favorites: “Hardly anything important happens that doesn’t have to do with relationships…It’s getting to know people, being interested in them. Life is built on genuine relationships, where trust and integrity are without question. When that is there, there are no limits!” — G.T. “Buck” Smith, former president of Davis and Elkins College, on the roots of motivation (the lead article in online Chronicle of Higher Education, 11-17-09)

Mālama pono, a hui hou kākou, Trustee Leinaʻala Ahu Isa.