One thing I’ve done more of this year is read. I’ve always been a huge fan of reading often finding myself agreeable to the contents of most the books I read, this is largely due to always searching out books that I hope I can learn from.
Some books and writers stir me in ways that others are unable to do, they have the ability to from out of nowhere pull my emotional choke cords and fill my entire body with an energetic charge one that lifts and inspires me to take bigger actions, to make a bigger impact and to start giving back and making a difference now.
The story of Yvon Chouinard and his company Patagonia Works in his book “Let My People Go Surfing” is one example of this awesome life charging power bank of a book.
In his book (which partially doubles as his life story) Yvon describes that a large part of his success is his perspective on making “the best” consumer products, he also describes a time when he questioned “why he was in business?”
I will digress now to my own life a couple of years ago when I was looking into companies ethos, mission statements and values so I could myself become a more responsible consumer the one I found closest to my own core values was Patagonias brief but perfect sentence:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis”.
I was sold.
Back to Yvons burning question, what I gathered from reading his book was that he already had his answer (although he points out he did not know it at the time) and it was the very same thing that put him in business in the first place.
In his book Yvon describes his unique perspective of “the best” (my interpretation was that it is a mix of doing the right thing for all involved and common sense), he strives to makes things that last and that are valued for what they are intended and what they cost, not only the cost to the consumer but to the environment, this is apparent in his attention to detail that traces right back to the production methods used for the raw materials of his products.
Yvon has strived to do the right thing whilst making his garments, he has pursued the best* materials and the most environmentally friendly methods and has always paid a fair price for them.
His understanding of the clothing industry and how globally destructive it has become is not a reason for him to bow out of the industry politely and to turn a blind eye, but to continually implement consistent changes to his company to inspire a new less harmful way of business and a better world.
Like anyone Yvon and his companies are not immune to mistakes but when they are made he will always take responsibility and correct them by immediately putting things right whatever the cost.
His personal philosophy spreads much further, it’s interwoven into the very fabric of the company, Yvon has not only been making the best products, he has simultaneously been building the best business ship to carry and share his values, one that embraces the ethos of doing the right thing whilst building the best products, this philosophy has washed right through his life and work, to his people and to the environment.
As a result Yvon has built a company that stands true to the mission statement and if you were to ask him now why he was in business he may say that he is leading the field of environmentally conscientious businesses by creating and implementing solutions that other companies are too frightened to do, or he might just say he is doing his best to do the right thing for himself, humanity and the planet.
Imagine the global difference it would make if more of us were like Yvon and were brave enough to “do the right thing”.
We know for the sake of our delicate ecosystem which supports us that we can not afford not to.
I hope that others will also look to his success and take steps to follow suit.
*Organic, fair trade and top quality