Gracious Professionalism

The discussion and helpfulness that goes on within this website is a great example of gracious professionalism.

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As a HS teacher each year I get new team members and each year we have to teach them about GP
“Why would we give our opponents a working motor?” type questions are addressed.
As are the cheating questions. “can’t we add this after we are inspected?”
“Who will know if we spent 800 dollars on that part?” Etc.

The veterans and myself start by saying GP. And usually back up to explain GP.

We talk about a match a few years ago when our robot collided hard with our opponent and a rope came lose from our machine to entangle the other machine. We both pulled and tugged until we finally fell over while the other machine broke free. We knew we were in the wrong, that rope wasn’t attached correctly and it was our fault. The refs deliberated for what seemed to be a long time when the head ref finally come over and told us we had been disqualified because of entanglement problem. While this was occuring the pit crew from my team was making sure we hadn’t damaged the other teams machine. We use this story to help the newbies try to understand GP.

It is hard to define GP, some people will cheat in front of their grandmothers.

Ultimately I think GP means play by the rules because you respect the game and don’t want to cheapen it.

As some one said above its the 21st century version of the golden rule.

Aha… I remember that. I was the head ref who made the DQ call. I recall talking to the drive team of 360. They were not happy with the outcome of the match, but they took the decision in stride. I think that this DQ knocked them from the #1 seed, if I remember correctly.

GP… it’s tough to describe, but I see it every day. Today, I got an email from a customer: “where is our shipment?” Right before I dig into this shipment, I see another note from this customer: “oh, we got it… someone else signed for it”. It was a simple note. She didn’t have to send it. But, it saved me the work in finding her shipment info. I appreciated that.

GP really comes out at the competitions. It is seen there. However, it is learned during the build season. Veteran students and mentors are obligated to pass along what they have witnessed in previous years. It’s our job to teach.

Andy B.

How fortunate I am, Cheif Delphi! When I ask you for the one of gracious professionalism, you present me with a swarm of them, which are in your keeping. Suppose that I carry on the figure of the swarm, and ask of you, what is the nature of the bee? And you answer that there are many kinds of bees, and I reply: But do bees differ as bees, because there are many and different kinds of them; or are they not rather to be distinguished by some other quality, as for example beauty, size, or shape? How would you answer me?

Jowett translation

There is no single definition. Gracious Professionalism is an attitude, not an action. If pressed for a simple answer, I would give one by counterexample: it is the opposite of Obnoxious Incompetence.

Andy gave an example of a shipping order interaction.

Culture change is a part of the big picture when thinking about Gracious Professionalism and its impact. Maybe that is an aspect that is worthy of exploration. The impact of Gracious Professionalism on different levels locally and globally. Within teams, during build, at the competitions, after the competitions and following graduation. How does the time spent working with mentors and students modeling GP - influence our society, our future, our big picture that we create? When it is taken out into the real world on the professional level and the personal level, what is that impact? The spread of understanding the importance of science and technology today and tomorrow through Gracious Professionalism. Using it in day to day operations.

Can Gracious Professionalism be taught? I don’t believe so … at least not in the traditional sense of teaching. Oh, you can teach the definitions if Gracious Professionalism, just like you can teach the definitions of honesty and integrity. But the true meanings of Gracious Professionalism (and integrity and honesty) will be lost if they are not LIVED. Only by living by GP, and leading by example, is gracious profesionalism truely taught.

At least thats my belief.

The great thing about FIRST is that most students would never hear about Gracious Professionalism without experiencing the FRC. They have the opportunity to “live it”, discuss it and hopefully practice it. Where else would they come in contact with this ideas without FIRST?

My short experience with ***FIRST ***tells me that they (the students) embrace the concept. And it is something they walk away with that will be with them the rest of their lives.

I’ll go one farther. Gracious Professionalism implies being both gracious ***and ***professional. The opposite is being obnoxious ***or ***incompetent.

I think the best examples of GP are when a team’s behavior doesn’t merely help an opponent. Many are willing to do that. It’s when giving that help also has the possiblility of harming the giving team in some way that true gracious professionalism shows through. That’s why I like the examples given like the FLL team sharing a part which could have jeopardized their own next match, or teams using their time out so their competitor could get fixed and play.

I think GP can also be likened to doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

A switch broke off of our OI from shipping and another team generiously gave us a spare they had. GP behavior means helping out teams in need and graciously competing in competetion.

last year at the lone star regional our team was having trouble with the drivetrain and one of the teams 647 cyberwovles saw that and like three of there mentors came and rebuilt or entire drivetrain and even builted chain tension right before the finals and we thank them very much cuz we got to the championship we never had to worry bout it again.

The Cyberwolves, FRC 647, are an excellent example of mentors and students working together, finding ways to build Gracious Professionalism within their team as well as role modeling it to others. If you have not told them already, they would probably love to hear about the Championship.


Last year we were surprised to win the Peachtree regional, and be able to go to Atlanta for the Championships. However, we did not have the money to get hotel rooms, or get a bus. Another team, En Tech 281, who was unable to go to Atlanta gave us the money they had saved for their hotel room, and our “rival” school let us ride with them on their bus. They didn’t ask for any payment of gas, and over those four days, we became pretty good friends. back at school, the other students were appalled. the “enemy” gave us a ride, and then we hung out with them?

I’m having a hard time explaining GP to our freshmen and rookies, and I’m finding that our “old” members often forget is as well. I’m wondering how most teams use GP? Is it just something you do for the judges, only something you do at competition, or is it in the shop, and our lives in general?

During Nationals last year, our team was plagued by faulty gearboxes that kept popping their drive chains every time they shifted. Despite heroic efforts by our pit crew, we couldn’t find the problem. Thank goodness we were next door to M.O.E! Despite being in competition against us, they spared to expense to help us fix our issue. After a temporary fix involving threaded rod and lots of patience, our transmissions lasted through the off-season until finally giving their last earlier this year.
I reiterated this story to a friend who played football a while ago. He couldn’t understand why a team would actually give some of their resources and members to another team. I told him that it was all in the spirit of GP, and that’s what made FIRST so spectacular.

Wow that goes deep. I would think that it’s the type of team that would help other teams if they ever asked for it, even if they were ‘rivals’; which the biggest thing is that we’re pretty much one big team, going in the same direction–the future.

asking a rival team within your city to have a practice match to see what to expect during the competiton, and not using the results to cheat and see what thier weaknesses are and exploiting them

I’m surprised that no one used this example: at the 2008 summer Olympics in China it was time for the Women’s Freestyle event (sorry can’t think of which one off the top of my head). One of the contender’s suit had ripped which would have made her unable to compete. Dara Tores, one of the athletes competing, went over to the judges and asked if they could wait until the swimmer could change her suit before starting the race. I guess GP isn’t exclusive to FIRST.

As for a definition of GP: GP is wanting everyone to do great, with you doing the best.

Sorry about bringing back a long-ago thread, but it still seemed like a relevant topic and I didn’t really want to make a new thread for it.

This year at the Waterloo Regional, my team won the Gracious Professional Award for helping many other teams with supplies and even one of our team leaders helped one team with their programming. The judges liked that and had us win the award. Another thing that we did was for one team, when we didn’t find the piece that he needed, he said he didn’t need to bother us, we still looked for that piece. We were very graciously professional at that regional

At champs this year, we had just about every major component of our bot fail:

Before our first match, we had to replace all of the bumper mounts, as they had gotten severe damage during the PDX regional.

after that match, we had to replace our “Bottom rollers” (paint rollers that drive the ball lift)

we then noticed that every match, the bot was getting a bit slower, and found out that we had roasted our drive motors.
they had to be replaced.

before our second to last match, we had our front roller (ball collector) break completely, and it had to be replaced. problem: the spares were a few thousand miles away, in Portland!

in all of the pit times when we were replacing parts, or fixing parts, we had teams coming by to help us out!

I’m sorry i can’t name all of you, but without you, we would have been out of the competition.

Our team learned a lot this year, and i hope that next year, we’re the ones helping out.