As I read the words “Be Strong to Be Useful,” a blast of crisp mountain air ripped through my mind and cleared out more than a few laggardly cobwebs.
Am I strong enough to be useful? What weaknesses are getting in the way of my usefulness?
Who was Georges Hébert and why did he said, “Être fort pour être utile” or “Be strong to be useful”?
Hébert was an officer in the French Navy prior to the First World War and was stationed in the town of St. Pierre on Martinique. In 1902 there was a catastrophic volcanic eruption where Hébert and others heroically saved the lives of 700 people. This experience reinforced his belief that athletic skill must be combined with courage and service to others.
Hébert later became a collegiate physical education teacher and wrote a Practical Guide of Physical Education where he codified his view that physical education was to make people strong–physically, mentally, and morally.
I love Hébert’s broad and purposeful view of physical strength. It’s not about sophisticated exercises or outward beauty, but about practical methods and meaningful purpose. It is motivating me to reflect on how strong and useful I am in all aspects of my life–as a human being, a father and husband, a friend, a professional, and a volunteer–and put a plan in strengthen myself physically, mentally, and morally so that I might be of greater use.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses physically, mentally, and morally?
- How do your weaknesses limit your opportunities to be useful?
- Where should you strengthen yourself?
- What practical exercises would help you build your physical, mental, and moral abilities?