Build your business by viewing it as a support vehicle for all of life – Thank You, Yvon Chouinard.

Like a hermit I locked myself up for a weekend in a small hotelroom. I lost touch. And it wasn’t any good. You know what, I live for building a better world. But by fully participating in a ratrace to work faster, be harder, become stronger, I was forgetting that I am human, a mother and a partner. Roaming around on a living planet.

The best tip I can give you, if any of this resonates with you, is to read ‘Let my people go surfing’ by Yvon Chouinard. He instantly became THE example to being a good (wo)man (in business), to me.

This is a holistic and philosophical book on using a business as a vehicle for change.

Chouinard and his companions did not build a business for the sake of building a business or being heralded as a good person. They were motivated from within. First as their own biggest customers being fanatic rock climbers. Then, as guardians of our living planet. Meaning not only to protect the environment, but also by making sure that business does not get in the way of, but supports, life in general. For example by being one of the first companies to have a child development center within the company, to not separate parents from children during most of the day. By making sure everyone can go surfing when the waves are good (no planning that).

What I’ve wrote about before, is the feeling of losing hope. Being part of a generation that has lived with the awareness of climate change for all our lives, being certain that we will bring up our children in a world that’s already halfway breaking down; I am looking for hope. And I know, I’m not the only one. Then came this passage:

I’m a Buddhist about it all. I’ve accepted the fact that there is a beginning and an end to everything. Maybe the human species has run its course and it’s time for us to go away and leave room for other, one hopes, more intelligent and responsible, life forms. (…)

I’ve found the cure for depression is action, and action is the basis for the environmental philosophy at Patagonia. Since our main reason for being in business is to try to make governments and corporations stop ignoring our environmental crisis, action is absolutely necessary. Evil always wins if we do nothing. (p175-178)

Here’s a personal note: I am not a Buddhist. I am not (yet) ready to accept that there is an end to everything. Maybe that wisdom will come with age. But I’m also not ok with things ending on my watch. And that’s why this passage resonates so much with me.

This book is about taking action. Right now. So that’s exactly what I will be doing. Taking action to improve my business. Because I’ve found out, we can do so much better. Making our books a tool to inspire change and take action ourselves. The flame is back on, higher than ever.

At the same time, reading this book felt like listening to a wise man who has lived, who has experienced real life and real adventures, and to someone who I am willing to trust. A mentor. That is why I will be gifting this book to a lot of people around me, who could use guidance in building their companies for a bright future for all. For hope. For wisdom. And also for getting a grip on the meaning that you could add to your life.

If I could, I would send the biggest THANK YOU over to Yvon Chouinard for writing this book and for giving directions to future generations of (business)men and women.

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