This week as I was part of the European call in the leadershipgift program. And The participants of the call reminded me of a concept that I was introduced to during a personal growth track a few years ago: Ho’oponopono. This is an Hawaiian prayer / practice of forgiveness and mindfulness. This practice consists of 4 different statements that you can use in any situation to take personal responsibility.

I am sorry.
In every situation there is something that you can be sorry about. Even it is as simple as being sorry for not being fully present. Or being sorry for not understanding the current situation.

Please forgive me.
There is always a possibility to ask forgiveness for something in your behaviour. Maybe you are angry when you don’t want to be. Maybe you didn’t communicate well enough to have the other person really understand your true meaning.

Thank you.
There is always something to be thankful for. You can thank nature for being alive. You can thank yourself for being aware that you are not really reacting in a way you want to. You can thank someone else for having patience to give you the opportunity to express your feelings and needs.

I love you.
Love is not limited to romantic love. People love their friends, their work, their hobby, their musical instruments and their cards. It is empowering to be able to express love. It could be love for yourself for trying to live out of freedom and choice. It could be love for the way your team supported you in a difficult period.

I used this practice a while ago in a retrospective (this is a periodic reflection moment for a team, to look back and see what we can learn to help us appreciate and improve our team). We had just gone through a very difficult two weeks where everything seemed to come together: 1 member fell out due to illness, 1 member was struggling with one task and was to stubborn to ask for help, others in the team were to busy to offer help consistently, … You know those periods right? I felt we needed a totally different approach to our retrospective than usual. So I suggested we use this practice. I was seriously nervous about this, because this was definitely an experiment. I had never used anything this profound in a retro before. And it was amazing. Everyone was able to voice their own 4 steps and with that completely disarming the entire team of any blame and justification. This really helped the team to open up their full intellectual and creative capacity to look for improvements and ways to avoid these kinds of situations in the future. I’ve only used it that once, but I’m looking forward to doing this again in the future, when it feels appropriate.

Have you every tried this? Or do you feel like trying it? Let me know in the comments down below.