Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition®

Gracious Professionalism®

Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community.

Through Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain coexist. Participants compete intensely while treating each other with respect and empathy. There is no trash talking, nor disingenuous platitudes. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended.

The term was coined by Dr. Woodie Flowers, (1943 - 2019) Executive Advisory Board Chair Emeritus & Distinguished Advisor.


Coopertition fosters innovation by promoting unqualified kindness and respect in the face of intense competition.

At FIRST, Coopertition means that teams help and cooperate with each other, even as they compete. It's about learning from teammates, teaching others, collaborating with mentors, managing and being managed. Coopertition embodies the spirit of competing while assisting and enabling others whenever possible.