Recounting Life Lessons Podcast Ep 2: SUCCESS AS A WHOLE

In this episode, we’re discussing life lesson #2: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This lesson is so much more than a lesson on teamwork. We’ll touch on:

Our favorite definition of success, why the small and simple habits matter, why rest and recovery are important, and tips to help you elevate the joy in your life.

To see the adventure that inspired this lesson click here.

We’ve also got Alana’s 5 journaling questions as a cellphone screensaver or lock screen in our Freebies and Resources library.

Ways to listen:

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SIONE: In today’s episode we’re discussing life lesson number 2, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” and trust me people, this lesson is so much more than a lesson on teamwork.

ALANA: Here’s a little preview of what’s coming up. We’ll touch on our favorite definition of success, why the small and simple habits we take the time to establish matter, why rest and recovery are just as important as doing the work itself, and of course some tips, mindset, and examples to help you elevate the joy in your life.

SIONE: This episode is especially for you if you every find yourself feeling behind or overwhelmed, you want more for yourself and your family but you don’t buy into the whole hustle mentality. In fact, this lesson is also for you if you have bought into the hustle mentality but are now dealing with the dreaded burnout.

ALANA: If any of this is you, you’ve come to the right place. So let’s get straight to it.

SIONE: Life lesson number 2, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

ALANA: Here’s a little background on how we came up with this lesson. We originally counted it on our first official YouTube video together.

SIONE: It’s kind of funny, in that first video we counted off life lessons 1, 2, and 3. You could still tell that we were really trying to figure things out.

ALANA: Yes, I’m glad we realized by the next video that maybe one lesson per video would be better. For those of you who are new to who we are, about a year and a half ago I started a YouTube channel by myself. Sometimes Sione was there and in it and sometimes he wasn’t.

ALANA: It was really an excuse for me not to get so caught up in the hustle of owning my own business and to have footage to look back on as a keepsake.

ALANA: After a few months of uploading videos here and there, Sione and I talked about how it would be fun to eventually start doing the videos together. Once we did, the reason for making videos, the quality and messages of the videos, the way we spent our free time–all of these things and more were elevated.

ALANA: It had this huge impact on our confidence and perspective of things and it all happened because we were doing it together.

SIONE: In general, I think we are able to do some pretty cool things on our own, but when we work together on anything it is easily 100x better.

ALANA: During our first year of marriage our friend Keith was looking for people willing to get trained on how to install home theater systems.

SIONE: Yeah, this is when flat screen TVs just came out and most people still didn’t know how to set them up. And having a surround sound system installed was just becoming popular.

ALANA: So, lots of work and a lot of people that didn’t know what they were doing. We had moved back to Hawaii to get married and ended up staying there instead of going back to Utah right away. We were full-time students at UH Manoa and we figured Sione could install home theater systems and work it around his classes.

ALANA: So he got trained and started going to do these home theater installations. Sione and Keith were the only ones subcontracted with Circut City to do these jobs for the entire island of Oahu. And it was going pretty well, but then Keith needed to go back to Oregon a few weeks in.

SIONE: So visualize this. I’ve never really had any schooling or training on cutting into drywall, mounting brackets to studs in the wall, looking for those studs without making mistakes, and even all the electronic hookups. No training.

SIONE: Keith did a super good job of explaining things to me while I was working with him, but the moment he left it was like I forgot everything. I can remember with Keith, it took us about 30 minutes to an hour to mount a basic flat-screen TV. My first flat-screen TV that I put up all by myself took me at least 4 hours.

ALANA: Yeah, I remember Sione calling and he was so stressed out. I knew my way around how to hook up the systems myself because I grew up in a family where a lot of people played video games and things like that. So I offered to step in and take Keith’s place.

ALANA: And it’s a good thing that the TV for that first job was small, because as we went out to do other jobs together, we were often climbing ladders while holding these TVs and mounting them on the wall. And they were much heavier flat screens. There would be no way that a lot of these jobs could have been done by just one person.

SIONE: Yeah, back then, even a small 37″ screen TV was heavy. Today I can carry a 50″ screen TV with ease. They’re super light. So we’re living together, going to school together, even taking some of the same classes together, and now we were working together.

ALANA: If you ever want to know how to get really close to your spouse in your first year of marriage, this is how we did it.

ALANA: Not only did this whole experience allow us to get to know each other really well, but it also taught us just how much strength there was in working together for us as a husband and wife team. The moment we started working together, the tips went up and the amount of time to do a job went way way down.

SIONE: Uh, I think you mean when we started working together we actually got tips.

ALANA: We both had different strengths that came in handy. But one of the biggest reasons we were suddenly making more per job was because of the tips.

ALANA: People were so impressed that we were able to work together and they’d tip us extra for the simple fact that we were working together.

SIONE: I remember a couple customers would actually hand me a tip and say, “Here, take your wife out and go eat somewhere.”

ALANA: It literally paid for us to work together and this principle doesn’t only apply to us as a duo, it also applies to other teams and members of a family.

ALANA: It applies to Fuji apples and peanut butter. Separately they are two things to eat that I actually really enjoy, but together they make up one of my favorite foods.

SIONE: or chocolate and peanut butter, or lihing mui and pineapple, or spam and rice.

ALANA: or a hamburger and fries. You can tell we’re hungry.


ALANA: This principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts isn’t brand new. It’s been around for a while.

SIONE: It basically means when you combine all the individual parts the result is far greater than you’d expect.

SIONE: We got a couple of chairs for the office we’re recording this in. It came in parts. No one part is more important than another. And any one part doesn’t make up the chair. But putting all the parts together doesn’t just create a chair.

SIONE: It creates a place to sit for meditation, it creates a place to sit and enjoy company, it creates a spot where when we sit, we know it’s time to work. So it is more than just parts making a chair as a whole. It creates part of the environment.

ALANA: It’s all about synergy and appreciating both the details and the big picture.

SIONE: It’s also scriptural. In the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 12:14-21 it says, “For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.”

SIONE: You can look at this scripture and think about the literal human body. Each individual part of the human body on its own is pretty spectacular.

SIONE: But the individual parts on their own don’t make the whole human body. No one part is better than the other. You may have  a favorite part and that’s fine, but that still doesn’t make the whole human body.

SIONE: Likewise if you were to compare this scripture to a team or family, each individual in the team or family is unique and awesome, but on their own they do not make up the team or family. And no one person is better than another in this team or family. Each individual is important for the team or family to work as a whole.

SIONE: So let me give you a quick visual. If you are blessed to have both of your arms and legs and can run, go ahead and race someone without moving your arms. You will realize how much the movement of your arms affect your speed.

ALANA: So true.

SIONE: Using the human body again, adding up parts of the body to create the entire body is already magnificent. But the body, functioning as a whole is a machine that can accomplish physical tasks, heal itself, imagine, create inventions, solve problems, show empathy, and so much more. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

SIONE: Even if you don’t have all the parts that would create the usual sum you can still create a synergistic outcome with the parts that you do have.

SIONE: Have you ever seen the Special Olympics? I watched a 50-meter freestyle swimming even with a person who had no arms and one leg. He had someone hold his waist on the starting pad while he balance on the outside of his left foot as his starting position. When the race began, he jumped into the pool and swam those 50 meters. No arms, one leg. So awesome! The whole body, with mind and heart, accomplished that super awesome task.

ALANA: That’s super cool. So guess what this means for you listening and for us as well? It means you don’t need to have everything figured out and you don’t have to have everything together.

ALANA: If you use everything that you do have figured out and everything you do have together, that’s already enough to get you going. This world is already in need of what you have to offer it today. Not at some future date, when it is better or when it better resembles what you’ve seen others do, or even when it’s perfect.

ALANA: Your light is needed today! So don’t wait to start putting yourself out there to let your light shine. Or as I like to put it, glow and get it people, glow and get it.

ALANA: If you’re doing what you can with what you have you aren’t behind. It’s only a matter of time and perspective. And as we turn to the Lord for help and keep working at it to figure more things out– and improve even just one of those parts– if you are working them all together, things will only continue to get better

ALANA: Time frames will be condensed. Things will start to pick up momentum. And all of a sudden, it will seem like everything auto-magically falls into place.

SIONE: And as much as it seems like magic, it’s actually synergistic. It’s these small and simple things working together to make great things come to pass.

ALANA: This is already some great stuff! Now that we’ve got some context, let’s get into how this lesson can be used as a principle to help us have a little more grace with ourselves and how it can help you achieve success.

ALANA: There are specifically three ingredients– or parts of the whole–in the equation for success that we want to touch on a bit. They are 1) Habits, aka the work, thoughts, or actions that we repeatedly choose to do or not do. 2) Progress. The direction those habits are moving us. And 3) Time for rest, play  and recovery. In a simplified version of the success equation, these are all the parts of success as a whole.

SIONE: How about you start by sharing your definition of success?

ALANA: Okay. Well, my favorite definition of success comes from Earl Nightingale. Here’s how he defines success. He said, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

SIONE: I think I’m going to repeat that, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

ALANA: Isn’t that such a good definition? I just love it! Yes, it’s not about arriving. This is why I love this definition of success so much. Because even if we achieve or attain something, because we are meant to grow and create, we won’t be satisfied. We’ll always want to expand and stretch our abilities.

ALANA: Think about the last time you achieved a big goal. How did you feel? It’s all about making progress toward a worthy ideal or ideal end in mind, like we talked about in our last episode. So with this definition of success in mind, let’s get into habits.

SIONE: It’s those small and simple things that you do consistently.

ALANA: Yeah, and each time we engage in these small and simple activities we are either moving ourselves closer and closer, or further and further away from our worthy ideal. There is a compounding effect.

ALANA: It’s interesting. We both fell out of the habit for a while of investing time into our personal development. We got caught up in binge-watching a few shows and playing this game on our phones. But when we realized what we were doing and got back into putting those good things into our minds it was like riding a bike.

ALANA: All of the excitement and even the recollection of things we had been working on came flooding back on that very first day, as if we had never taken that break at all. We initially thought that it would take a few days to get back into the full swing of things. But it only really took us a 45-minute session.

ALANA: The work you put in, whether it’s recent or it’s been a while affects the whole. The whole of those experiences in their entirety has a greater impact than we sometimes realize.

SIONE: And it can for be good or for bad, depending on the habit.

ALANA: It’s why an alcoholic, in fact, who has been sober for 15 or 20 years will still say that they are in recovery. It is the fear that the moment they take a sip that the memories and habits they once had would all come rushing back.

ALANA: There are actually nerve pathways that develop and strengthen these things in our brains, the more we do something. I kind of like to picture it as these pathways being made in the sand. And the more we take those same paths, the deeper and deeper and more defined those paths become. So even if we haven’t taken one of those paths in a while, it’s still there the moment we return to use them.

SIONE: Application, work on developing good habits. And they don’t even have to be big crazy habits.

ALANA: Yeah, someone asked me the other day about my morning routine. So I told them, well, this is what I do. I pray, meditate, journal, and then study my scriptures at the start of each day. But at the end of the day, right before bed, I read from a personal development book, journal again, meditate, and pray some more.

ALANA: So, I’m pretty much doing all the same things in the evening as I did in the morning, but I read a different book. Sure it takes a few hours of each day to do these things, but those hours make all the hours in between–or in other words, my day as a whole–so much better and way more productive. And when I skip a few of these things, my day doesn’t go as well.

ALANA: Here’s a little bit of application, or an example for you of what I do. Here are a couple of questions that I make it a point to answer as a small and simple habit every night before I go to bed in my journal that you may want to add as a habit to elevate your evening routines as well. And since doing this, I have much more patience with myself and I am able to remain in a mindset of gratitude and abundance.

ALANA: There are 4 questions. And I don’t go too deep into detail when I’m answering and I’m able to get through answering them in 10 minutes or less. So anyone can do it. I choose to journal them, but if you, for some reason can’t write them down, you could also just think of how you would answer them instead.

ALANA: So the first question is, “What is one thing that brought me some joy today?” Question number 2, “What is one example of a way I recognized the Lord’s hand in my life today?” Number 3, “What is one way I made progress toward a goal or my worthy ideal today?” And number 4, “What is one thing I learned today?”

ALANA: If you make this a habit, I can guarantee that on most days, you will recognize that you have way more than one thing you could write in each of those categories. And on days when you’re feeling particularly behind, or like you aren’t doing enough, just go back and read these little bits of progress you’ve been tracking and making and how you’ve been helped along the way. And it will be hard to keep feeling like you’re behind and you’re not doing enough for very long.

SIONE: You know, we are people with a natural inclination to progress in life. And in order for us to really recognize that progress, sometimes we need to see evidence of that progress. Your journal keeping is definitely a small and simple habit to keep track of progress. People have Fitbits to keep track of their steps and exercise or eating habits. People have a bank statement or financial statements to keep track of their progress in their financial lives.

SIONE: Each Sunday when we go to church and we partake of the sacrament to renew promises we’ve made with God, we take time to think on how we did the previous week and on how we could do better the upcoming week. This helps with our spiritual progress.

SIONE: When a person reaches their specific goal in losing weight or gaining muscle or in improving their financial fitness or spiritual progress, they can look back and trace how each of those moments or parts, if you will, created their end in mind outcome.

SIONE: So definitely, a helpful tip is to have a system where you can keep track of your progress. Whether it be through journaling, using a spreadsheet, your Fitbit, or sticky notes; have a system to track progress.

SIONE: Alright Alana, let’s jump into part 3 of your success formula; rest and recovery. What’s so bad about the hustle and work, work, work mentality?

ALANA: Ok, what would happen to an athlete if they didn’t include recovery and rest into their workout routines?

SIONE: Well, building recovery time into any training program is important because it allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissue. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish the body will actually continue to break down from intensive exercise.

ALANA: Let’s get a little technical and sciency here.

SIONE: So there’s something called overtraining syndrome. Overtraining syndrome frequently occurs in athletes who are training for competition, or a specific event and trained beyond the body’s ability to recover. Athletes often exercise longer and harder so they can improve. But without adequate rest and recovery, these training regiments, they can actually backfire and decrease performance.

SIONE: Another consequence of lack of rest and recovery is that it can affect your mental health. About eight years ago, when I worked at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility, I had the opportunity to work a lot of overtime. In fact, I remember there were more than a handful of times when I would work a thirty-two hour shift, there was one week I had just ended a thirty-two hour shift and the supervisor on shift asked if I would stay for another shift and I could have any post that I wanted. 

SIONE: They were obviously short-staffed, so they asked me if I wanted to take some overtime again. This would be the first time I would be working a forty-hour shift. Now keep in mind, most people work a forty-hour week. I was about to complete a forty-hour shift.

SIONE: We were short-staffed. I couldn’t be forced to stay because I was already past my 16-hour limit, but I could choose to stay if I wanted to. And this is where my mental health was probably already waining, because I thought, Wow, any post! I can do that! I’ve been up for 32 hours, what’s another 8 hours?

SIONE: So I chose to stay. By the end of that last shift, I was so loopy. I’m glad it was actually grave shift when all the kids were sleeping because I wouldn’t be able to function properly during a shift when all the kids would be awake.

SIONE: And the only reason why I know my mental health was intact after those 40 hours was  because I told Alana to never let me work another 40 hour shift again. Sure that was a big paycheck, sure that was a lot of taxes taken, and sure it wasn’t worth it.

ALANA: And he hasn’t done it again since. This is something that I’m still working on personally myself because when I want something done it can be easy for me to get very assertive and just want to tackle it and get it all done as quickly as possible. But it’s also why I’m so grateful we started our YouTube channel. It’s been a physical reminder and excuse to take a break from working.

ALANA: Breaks, and rest, and time to play are important. They’ll prevent you from burning out and they are a form of refueling.

SIONE: You know, just thinking back to when we first started working together in home theater installations, I was that way when I wanted to get the job done. No matter how quick or long it would take, and you had to remind me, “Sione, you’re getting grumpy. It’s time to get some food.”

ALANA: Which is funny, because now it’s almost the opposite. I’m the one who it’s like, “Okay Alana, it’s time to go to bed.”

SIONE: Steven Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls this sharpen the saw. It is his 7th habit. He says that sharpening the saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset that you have–you. So rest and recovery, or sharpening the saw is also an important part to creating your whole life.

ALANA: I’m so glad we had a chance to look at this lesson a little more closely. I actually had no idea it could be so impactful until we sat down to prepare for this podcast.

ALANA: Here are a few ideas for application.

SIONE: Start before you feel ready. That means to start with whatever you have towards your worthy ideal and trust that as you move into action, things will get clearer.

ALANA: Also practice being consistent. Pick a small habit that you’d like to improve. Feel free to steal and use my morning and evening routine and journaling questions.

SIONE: Make sure to schedule in time to rest, play, and recover.

ALANA: If you have found something of value from today’s episode please share it with someone. Don’t just keep it to yourself. We’d also love to hear from you.

ALANA: Let us know how you’ll be applying this lesson to your life over on our Instagram @sioneandalana or on our Facebook page at mention that you listened to this podcast and your thought on it on our latest post.

SIONE: And for more resources and inspiration for living a life of growth and joy and other goodies we don’t share with the public, visit and sign up to become a Sione and Alana Insider.


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