“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
So wrote Sierra Club founder John Muir in his 1901 book Our National Parks. And so discovered Flagler business professor Jim Makowski when he embarked last summer on the “trip of a lifetime”—a 13,200-foot-elevation adventure through Forester Pass in California’s High Sierra mountains. Professor Makowski was joined by retired Flagler professor Marc Sherrin, and the two set out on a 7-day-long backpacking trip that, by Makowski’s report, delivered some of the strongest physical and mental challenges of his lifetime.
“No phones. No toilets. Only two ranger stations in the course of the 50-mile trip,” he said. “It was a grueling but exhilarating experience. It helped me put my professional life—my business and teaching life—into a much clearer perspective.”
And an accomplished professional life it is: Professor Makowski, a Certified Public Accountant with an MBA from Notre Dame, is approaching a quarter-century of teaching at Flagler College. At Flagler, he has received the Faculty of the Year award and the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. He and his students embark on a wide range of financial and business explorations, including examinations of liquidity and financial leverage of Fortune 500 companies including Pepsi and Hershey. The goal, said Makowski, is “to teach our students how to become CEO’s and CFO’s. Our graduates spend a great deal of time working in teams and communicating with each other in addition to developing the financial and accounting skills they need to succeed. They come out of our program with a very well-rounded sense of business.”
But even this veteran educator and businessman has found something new to learn in recent months—that to truly be well-rounded in any career, we need the wonder of the great outdoors. To do this, Professor Makowski points again to the words of John Muir—“Keep close to Nature’s heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”