Gracious Professionalism

Gracious Professionalism is a big part of the FIRST experience. The phrase was coined by Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has written:

Gracious professionalism seems to be a good descriptor for part of the ethos of FIRST. It is part of what makes FIRST different and wonderful.

Gracious professionalism has purposefully been left somewhat undefined because it can

and should mean different things to each of us. We can, however, outline some of its

possible meanings. Gracious attitudes and behaviors are win-win. Gracious folks respect

others and let that respect show in their actions. Professionals possess special knowledge

and are trusted by society to use that knowledge responsibly. Thus, gracious professionals

make a valued contribution in a manner pleasing to others and to themselves.

In FIRST, one of the most straightforward interpretations of gracious professionalism is that we learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. We try to avoid leaving anyone feeling like they are losers. No chest thumping barbarian tough talk, but no sticky sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, pride, and empathy comfortably blended.

Understanding that gracious professionalism works is not rocket science.

It is, however,missing in too many activities. At FIRST, it is alive and well. Please help us take care of it. In the long run, gracious professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. If one

becomes a professional, and uses knowledge in a gracious manner, everyone wins. One

can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you have acted with integrity and sensitivity. That’s good stuff!

Beach Cities Robotics has explored Gracious Professionalism at greater depth and determined that effective Gracious Professionalism is based on Six Pillars of Character:







They’ve (graciously!) given us permission to share the great poster they developed in 2002. Team 2845 will be referring to it regularly throughout the new competition year. Thanks Beach Cities Robotics, and good luck in your team year!

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