Skills and products

One of the best memories I have from the book Let My People Go Surfing is Yvon Chouinard’s emphasis on developing a skill–whether it’s crafting a surfboard or tailoring a jacket. Learning how to do something that’s valuable for society will always put food on the table and provide a sense of self-worth.

I’d also add that it’s not just important to learn a valuable skill or two, but to also work on a creation or object that can be perceived. In the field of education this has often been elusive. Yes, an educated student can be considered a “product” of instruction, but teachers in the past rarely had lesson plans or assessments that stood the test of time. And at the end of the day, the chalk board was always erased.

Not anymore. Now teachers can produce a YouTube video that teaches viewers worldwide about photosynthesis. Textbooks can be written and shared as ebooks. Students can read blog posts as often as they want. Websites can be created. Podcasts can be heard.

The main struggle now is what product of learning should be created first.


In his book Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, Yvon Chouinard talks about the importance of taking things one step at a time. Whether it’s climbing a mountain or starting a business, you’ll get discouraged by trying to accomplish the entire goal all at once. It’s better to only focus on the next foot placement when climbing, or the next sale for your business.

Ryan Holiday states the same thing in his book The Obstacle Is the Way. He explains how creating and following a process is key in any large undertaking. You’ll get nowhere if you think about the end result all the time; this only leads to stress, self-doubt, and feeling overwhelmed. It’s much better to take things day by day–maybe even minute by minute.

You can always make it another 60 seconds.