We all owe a significant debt to a large community of supporters whose contributions to our lives have been the bricks on the road to who we are now. Some of these impacts are massive, others edge us forward. Some come from the people who know us well others from random collisions. And some of our most important directional changes were at the hands people we'll never really meet. We become like the people we choose to connect with daily. Choose wisely.
The first book I encountered when I started ice climbing was "Climbing Ice" by Yvon Chouinard. There are two paragraphs at the start of chapter 10 that are the main reason I became an ice climber, industrial designer and impact entrepreneur. I've not yet met the man and only know him through what we writes and what other others have written about them. He's at the top of my must-meet list.
And now in the words of Yvon Chouinard...
We are Homo sapiens, the tool users. We earn the name by developing tools to increase our leverage on the world around us, and with this increased technological leverage comes a growing sense of power. This position of advantage which protects us from wild nature we call civilization. Our security increases as we apply more leverage, but along with it we notice a growing isolation from the earth. We crowd into cities which shut out the rhythms of the the planet–day break, high tide, wispy cirrus high overhead yelling storm tomorrow, moonrise, Orion going south for the winter. Perceptions dull and we come to accept of blunting of feeling in the shadow of security. Drunk with power, I find that I am out of my senses. I, tool man, long for immediacy of contact to brighten my senses again, to bring me nearer the world once more; in my security I have forgotten how to dance.
So in reaction, we set sail on the wide sea without motors in hopes of feeling the wind; we leave the Land Rover behind as we seek the desert to know the sun, searching for a remembered bright world. Paddling out again, we turn to ride the shore break landward, walking on the waves, the smell of wildflowers meeting us on the off-shore breeze. In the process we find not what our tools can do for us but what we are capable of feeling without them, of knowing directly. We learn how far unaided effort can take us into the improbable world. Choosing to play this game in the vertical dimensions of what is left of wild nature makes us climbers. Only from the extreme of comfort and leisure do we return willingly. Climbing is a symptom off post-industrial man.
Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia, the Ventura-based maker of outdoor clothing. I think YC can lay a credible claim to inventing the concept of impact entrepreneurship and the impact venture: any leader and team building a business that not only does well financially but becomes a steward of the community and the environment: "there is no business to be done on a dead planet."
I'd add a fourth bottom line to the economic, ecological and social: the personal. YC taught me that a person who does not live life in a sustainable way will probably not do business in a sustainable way.