Angler, climber, surfer, and businessman, Yvon Chouinard, is known for many things. His climbing accomplishments in Yosemite in the 1960s forever cemented his legacy in the outdoors world. As an angler, he is largely (yet quietly) responsible for increased popular commitments to catch and release fly fishing, public lands, and wild fish. And as a businessman, Chouinard founded Patagonia, Black Diamond, and One Percent for the Planet while demonstrating how business can be used as a tool for meaningful social change and environmental activism. All of this is enough to fill volumes of books of stories, advice, and more. However, despite an impressive (and abbreviated) listing of accomplishments above, Chouinard is also largely known for his wisdom, and this as much as anything else is what gives enormous value to his new book, Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport.
Chouinard states that, “When a man reaches a certain age, he begins to measure his wealth, not in terms of how much he as accumulated, but in how much time he has left.” At the expense of putting words in his mouth, for Chouinard, the value of time comes with the experiences that can be had and wisdom that can be found with that time.
For Yvon Chouinard, a man with many accomplishments under his belt, process comes before anything, and experience in the outdoors has the power to be formative and even transformative. In the film 180° South, he talks about the meaning of process when describing what some might think of as the biggest achievement in the outdoors — climbing Mount Everest. He states, “The whole purpose of planning something like Everest is to effect some sort of spiritual and physical gain, and if you compromise the process, you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back.” For Chouinard, getting to the top is not the point. And his perspective on such things is one of the reasons he is so beloved in the outdoors. Other outdoorsmen have accomplished more. As anglers, climbers, and surfers, there are individuals in these pursuits that are far more skilled. And how often do we keep track of the founders and CEOs of businesses? I do not intend to undermine the accomplishments of such a skilled man whose feats will be forever noted among the outdoors community — it’s just that these achievements are overshadowed by his wisdom, moral lessons, and values. And for this reason, Chouinard’s new book, Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport, is as good as gold.
This hardback, 464-page book is filled with stories, life lessons, reflections, and even letters and a poem. And with a generous amount of photos, this book offers more inspiration than can be found almost anywhere. This truly is a special book and one that can be read, revisited, and cherished for many years. It is a book about a man, but it is really about all of us — how we ought to live, what is of value, and what the natural world really means. After all, isn’t this what we are really focused on when we head off into the wilderness?
To learn more about Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport, please click here.
— Tim Harden
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