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Yvon Chouinard Quotes

Yvon Chouinard

Yvon Chouinard quotes: on essentialism, ethics, presence and more.

“How you climb a mountain is more important than reaching the top.”

“If you focus on the process of climbing, you’ll end up on the summit.”

“You learn that how you got there was what’s important.  Not what you accomplished.”

“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.”

“Mastery is to work toward simplicity; replace complex technology with knowledge, hard work and skill.”

“Once you educate yourself, you’re left with choices.”

“Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all.”

“I think risk is important.  I don’t care if it’s a great financial risk or a physical risk.  You only get out of something what you put into it and the fact that you are willing to risk something means that you are going to get a lot more out of it.”

“The secret to happiness is to be working at your passion.  If you want to be miserable, lead a desperate life like everybody else where they drag their asses to work everyday because they hate their job.”

“You have to be true to yourself; you have to know your strengths and limitations and live within your means.”

“To do good, you actually have to do something.”

“The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life.  It’s so easy to make it complex.  What’s important is leading an examined life.”

“True adventure begins when everything goes wrong.”

“The whole purpose of an adventure is to gain some spiritual or emotional insight.  When you compromise the process, you compromise the gain.”

“So, it’s kind of like the quest for the holy grail.  Well, you know, who gives a sh*t what the holy grail is.  It’s the quest is what’s important.”

“The rules of the game must be constantly updated to keep up with the expanding technology.”

“It’s okay to be eccentric if you’re rich; otherwise you’re just crazy.”

“The more you know, the less you need.”

“There’s a movement for simplifying your life: purchase less stuff, own a few things that are very high quality that last a long time, and that are multifunctional.”

“I drive old cars, all my Patagonia clothes are years and years old, I hardly have anything new.  I try to lead a very simple life.  I am not a consumer of anything.”

“There is a beginning and end to all life… and to all human endeavors.  Species evolve and die off.  Empires rise, then break apart.  Businesses grow, then fold.  There are no exceptions.  I’m okay with all that.”

“Doing risk sports had taught me another important 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 a 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.”

“The key to confronting and truly solving any problem is to continue to ask enough questions to get past all the symptoms and reach the actual cause.”

“If you focus on the goal and not the process, you inevitably compromise.  Businessmen who focus on profits wind up in the hole.  For me, profit is what happens when you do everything else right.”

“If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent.  The delinquent is saying with his actions, ‘This sucks.  I’m going to do my own thing.'”

“Hire extremely independent, intelligent and passionate people, not necessarily ‘experts.’  I purposely try to hire people who are really self-motivated and good at what they do, and then I just leave them alone.”

“No young kid growing up dreams of someday becoming a businessman.  He wants to be a fireman, a sponsored athlete or a forest ranger.  The Lee Iacoccas, Donald Trumps and Jack Welchs of the business world are heroes to no one except other businessmen with similar values.”

“I’ve always thought of myself as an 80 percenter.  I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80% proficiency level.  To go beyond that requires an obsession that doesn’t appeal to me.  Once I reach 80% level, I like to go off and do something totally different; that probably explains the diversity of the Patagonia product… and why our versatile, multifaceted clothes are the most successful.”

“There’s no such thing as sustainability.  There are just levels of it.  It’s a process, not a real goal.  All you can do is work toward it.”

“One thing I did not want to change, even if we got serious, work had to be enjoyable on a daily basis.  We all had to come to work on the balls of our feet and go up the stairs two at a time.”

“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.”

“Mainly, my job is to be on the outside and bring ideas into the company and forge change.  Most people hate change.  It’s threatening.  I thrive on it.”

“But I’m really trying to run this company like it is going to be here a hundred years from now.  That’s what’s important.”

“When I die and go to hell, the devil is going to make me the marketing director for a cola company.  I’ll be in charge of trying to sell a product that no one needs, is identical to its competition, and can’t be sold on its merits.  I’d be competing head-on in the cola wars, on price, distribution, advertising and promotion, which would indeed be hell for me.  Remember, I’m the kid who couldn’t play competitive games.  I’d much rather design and sell products so good and unique that they have no competition.”

“The word adventure has gotten overused.  For me, when everything goes wrong?  That’s when adventure starts.”

“Going back to a simpler life based on living by sufficiency rather than excess is not a step backward.  Rather, returning to a simpler way allows us to regain our dignity, puts us in touch with the land, and makes us value human contact again.”

“Evil doesn’t have to be an overt act; it can be merely the absence of good.  If you have the ability, the resources, and the opportunity to do good and you do nothing, that can be evil.”

“Even if he or she isn’t aware of it, every individual spends an entire lifetime creating and evolving a personal image that others perceive.”

“The whole purpose of climbing something like Everest is to effect some sort of spiritual and physical gain.  But if you compromise the process you’re an asshole when you start out and an asshole when you get back.”

“You have to remember this was the ’60s, when climbing was dangerous and sex was safe.  During the ’60s, all the risk-type sports were very popular, because everybody was rebelling against their parents, or rebelling against the whole system.  But those days are over.  This is the day of conservatism.”

“I live for the moment.  I’m basically a Buddhist-type person.  I’m just here right now, and I don’t think about what’s going to happen a hundred years from now.  I try to concentrate on what’s going on right now.”

“Traveling is my form of self-education.”

“The more I make, the more I can give away.”

“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.”

“You ask me about the past, you ask me about the future, the only way to be happy is to be living right now.”

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