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Hakuna Matata = “No Worries”

January 24, 2011

There is a very popular and powerful undertaking happening right now throughout Student Affairs in Higher Education called #OneWord2011This has not been limited to my field, but the power it brings to a University setting can be mind-boggling.  With one simple word, professionals who impact students lives every day have given themselves a direction and focus for this entire year…a goal that will stay right in front of them at all times (which is the only way to actually accomplish any goal).

For me, I have already taken on my own goal and it is two words: HAKUNA MATATA (I guess I could create #TwoWord2011, but I’ll just stick with this blog post as my announcement).  Just about everyone knows this phrase thanks to the 1994 Disney film “The Lion King” with that very catchy song (that my 3-year old daughter loves to sing, but says “hakuna matato”). 

Definition: Hakuna Matata is Swahili for “there are no worries” (which in English we often say “no problem”).  I’m sticking with “no worries” as it more accurately represents what I need in my life .  A little more history: “no worries” has often been said to be the Australian motto and represents a feeling of friendliness, good humor and optimism.

How often have you found yourself worrying about what ‘might happen’?  How much stress has this put on you that in the end, wound up being nothing?  I have done this in my life a lot, and sometimes have even created self-fulfilling prophesies because I spent so much time worrying, I didn’t react with a clear mind nor enough time.  

So back in December I decided to adopt this very simple notion of “no worries” into my life and ever since, it has been my own form of relaxation.  I have found that when I begin to get stressed, as funny as it may sound, I begin to sing that catchy tune and it immediately has calmed me down.  I realize the situation is not nearly as bad as the devil advocate in me is making it out to be and I have been better able to react or to accept and go with the flow.  This has definitely helped when rocking my 4-month old daughter to sleep at 3am, knowing we’ll be right back at it in just a few hours.

For those of us in Higher Education, we have all had that student come to us with the scared/worried look on their face and we know instantaneously that they’ve messed something up and are just trying to figure out how to tell us.  This is where we get to make the conscious decision to either get upset or to turn the situation into a ‘teachable moment’ and help them through the problems (hopefully everyone chooses the latter). 

To do this successfully, the first thing we must do is tell the student to “not worry” and reassure them that everything will work out in the end.  Sure, there might be some accountability they must face depending on the severity of the mistake, but I have lost count how many of my students have come back to me saying they learned more from a mistake than ever from all of their successes. 

Now I’m not saying that there is never a reason to legitimately worry, there are plenty of times that we have no idea what the outcome of a situation will be and it could be bad.  However, we simply must have the faith and realize that some things just are not worth worrying about and take the advice of a warthog and a meerkat:

Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase

Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze
 
It means no worries for the rest of your days

It’s our problem-free philosophy

Hakuna Matata!
 
Relaxation: If singing isn’t your thing, find some other form of relaxation (try these techniques from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD ) to release all that stress so when the situations come, you will have a clear mind, be able to think quickly and react appropriately and positively.  Research has proven that any form of relaxation techniques can:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration
  • Reduce anger and frustration
  • Boost confidence to handle problems

Knowing how to better manage stressful situations will help you on your journey to unlocking and exceeding your potential.

What other techniques do you use to relax?  What is your #OneWord2011 (or two, no one’s really counting)?

Thanks to Timon and Pumba, my new motto is Hakuna Matata.

“What’s a motto?

Nothing.  What’s a motto-with you?”

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