Inspire

A philosophy to live by

Dec 22, 2015 By Mark Greenlaw, VP, FIRST


I know exactly where I was on June 24, 2013. I was sitting on my back porch, reading “Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman,” by Yvon Chouinard, founder of clothing designer Patagonia. I know this because I was inspired to take a photo of a specific passage from the book with my iPhone (more on that later), which captured the exact date.

In the book, which is amazing by the way, Chouinard “shares the persistence and courage that have gone into being head of one of the most respected and environmentally responsible companies on earth.” +

At the beginning of the chapter “Human Resource Philosophy,” I came upon a quote, attributed to the 18th century French writer François-René de Chateaubriand. This quote struck me asHuman Resource Philosophy being so profound and inspiring that I snapped the previously mentioned photo. Chateaubriand said:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

I reflect upon this inspiring passage often and share it frequently with others.  I aspire to this ideal in my life, and currently experience it often while working (or playing?) for FIRST

I believe we should encourage young people in our lives to aspire to this ideal. For those of us who work with youth – whether as educators, parents, or mentors – we should strive to create situations where they can realize Chateaubriand’s vision. This is why I’m such a big believer in hands-on, project-based learning.  There is nothing better to see a young person so engaged in what they are doing, whether building a robot or acting in a Shakespearean play, that you can’t discern if they in labor or leisure, education or recreation, at work or at play, or doing both.

+Source: Amazon.com

Mark Greenlaw is vice president of strategy and impact for FIRST. Read Mark's bio.


If you have an inspiring story or piece of wisdom that you’ve picked up through your experiences in the FIRST community, please reach out to us at inspire@firstinspires.org and inquire about becoming a guest contributor for Inspire.

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