August 28, 2014

In Need of Inspiration? Read These 8 Quotes By Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard. ~ Katinka Sætersdal Remøe

YvonChouinard_DoGoDoSomething http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/04/to-do-good-you-actually-have-to-do-something/

Why I turn to Yvon Chouinard for inspiration:

There are many people that I’ve admired over the years. People I’ve looked up to for their awesome spirit, for their “f*ck-what-other-people-think” attitude, and for what this attitude has made them accomplish.

Like Thor Heyerdahl, the stubborn adventurer/explorer/multifaceted academian who crossed oceans on rafts made out of papyrus to prove ideas no one believed in. Madonna, for her nakedness (in all senses of the word), forwardness and ashtanga yoga devotion (she has to take part of the credit for why I started reading about K. Pattabhi Jois). And Gaston Rébuffat, the French alpinist, for his poetic words, awesome woolen sweaters reminding me of my grandpa, and for pioneering the “mountain-is-my-friend” attitude.

These people inspire me to think that anything is possible. That you can sail across oceans using boats from the Middle Ages, dance (with amazing grace) on stage in super high heels at the age of 56, or climb seemingly impossible mountain tops in knickers and massive boots.

They inspire me to not always stick to “what is” but to look beyond that to “what can be.” They remind me that the only real limitation to accomplishing whatever it is I want to accomplish, or to be whoever I want to be, is myself and my way of seeing things.

That’s why these figures of inspiration are important. Not so much for what they do per se but for how they make us feel and for what amazing things these feelings, this inspiration, can mount into.


So, because I am a strong believer in the importance of having these figures of inspiration, and because I believe that what gives me these inspirational butterflies might just do the same to others, let me share with you the man who’s been my hero, my beau ideal, my “can be” rather than “is” for the past two years:

Semi-rad Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard.

Heard of him?

That he ate cat food for a whole summer because he’d rather climb than work? That he founded Chouinard Equipment, the largest supplier of climbing hardware in the US in 1970 and predecessor to Black Diamond? That he never made much profit because time and means to ride waves or climb clean lines was more important?

Mr. Chouinard is a man of many passions. He climbs mountains and has traveled the world in search of good swell. He kayaks, likes falcons and goes to Norway for fly fishing. And he writes. Really well, in case you haven’t read any of his work.

But what I admire the most is how he has pioneered the business world with his company Patagonia. How he has merged Zen philosophy, environmentalism, mindfulness and business, and made a functional outdoor industry business philosophy out of it.

That’s admirable. That’s something to look up. That’s something I can get inspired by.

Here are eight of my favourite Chouinard quotes. Enjoy, and may they get your feelings flowing and inspiration going!

1. On living a simple life:

“The hardest thing in life is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complicated.”

~180 ° South

2. On risk sports and business:

“Doing risk sports had taught me another lesson: Never exceed your limits. You push the envelope, and you live for those moments when you’re right on the edge, but you don’t go over. You have to be true to yourself; you have to know your strengths and limitations and live within your means. The same is true for business. The sooner a company tries to be what it is not, the sooner it tries to “have it all”, the sooner it will die.”

~ Let my people go surfing: the education of a reluctant businessman

3. On Zen philosophy, climbing and business:

“In Zen archery, for example, you forget about the goal – hitting the bull’s eye – and instead focus on all the individual moments involved in shooting an arrow. (…) If you’ve perfected all the elements, you can’t help but hit the center of the target. The same philosophy is true for climbing mountains. If you focus on the process of climbing, you’ll end up on the summit. As it turns out, the perfect place I’ve found to apply this Zen philosophy is the business world.”

~ Let my people go surfing: the education of a reluctant businessman

4. On being in the moment:

“You know where I wanna be right now? Right here. Nowhere else. Not in the future, not in the past. This is what I worked for all my life (…) Just live for the moment.”

~ 180 ° South

5. On focusing on the process rather than the goal:

“If you compromise the process you’re an asshole when you start and an asshole when you come back. (…) Who gives a shit what the holy grail is? It’s the quest that’s important. The transformation is within yourself.”

~ 180 ° South

6. On the environment:

“Most of the damage we cause to the environment is a result of our own ignorance. We go about blindly doing unnecessary damage because we are uncurious. Uncovering problems and ultimately finding solutions require asking  lot of questions.”

~ Let my people go surfing: the education of a reluctant businessman

7. On leading an examined life:

“Yeah, leading an examined life, I always say, is a pain in the ass. It adds an element of complexity to business that most businessmen don’t want to hear about. They just want to call a fabric manufacturer, and say, “Hey, give us 10,000 yards of shirting.”

~ Interview with Tree Hugger

8. On knowledge:

“The more you know the less you need.”

~ 180 ° South

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Author’s Own

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