Just Do It!

I can just hear my readers now. Oh, you stole the Nike phrase; you’ll have a problem. Having the ethical values I do, I went to the Nike web site and explored throughout, looking for the phrase “Just Do It” with a copyright. Nope, but I did see a phrase “Just Do Whatever,” also without a copyright. Any way, it got me to read the history of Nike and how they got started.

For those who don’t know the story, Phil Knight, a University of Oregon accounting student and middle-distance runner, and Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregon track coach started the company. In 1962, Phil Knight had the idea to import shoes from Japan to dislodge the German sneaker dominance. Knight and Bowerman formed a partnership, threw in $550 each and were off and running (no pun on words!) with their new company Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). In 1965, they added a couple more names to their team, Jeff Johnson and Steve Prefontaine, more runners from Oregon. Johnson sold shoes from the back of his van and then in 1966, opened the company’s first store in Santa Monica, California and renamed the company Nike. Even in 1971, almost 10 years after founding his company, Phil Knight was supplementing his income by teaching at night. Just goes to show that great companies are not overnight successes.

But the lessons learned from such a great company can give each of us the inspiration to move ahead with our lives. In this 2003 sluggish economy, many of us might want to give up in our endeavors. Whether we are seeking a new job, building a business, or transitioning into retirement, we can get discouraged if we are not making enough progress on our initiatives.

“Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.”
— Napoleon Hill

Last week I had the privilege of addressing a group of professionals where I spoke about “Emptying Your Cup,” a technique to become centered when there is so much going on in our lives. Forward progress can be limited by anxiety that flits around in our mind. This concept—of “emptying your cup”—came from the pastoral work that I do with parishioners in my church. It is difficult to be present and in the moment with others—who are really in need—when I am dealing with all the issues of my life. We parishioners learned to do an exercise that helps us to “empty our cup” before we go to see a shut-in or another individual in their time of need. After all, we can’t help others when we are so intensely focused on ourselves. What I do is to turn on special classical music to become centered and move into the moment, sharpening my focus. In other words, by “emptying my cup,” I am getting prepared to “Just Do It.”

There is a certain satisfaction with just doing it, not worrying about all the possible ramifications of our actions. If we stick to our values and concentrate on the task at hand, our objectives will be reached. When a teacher teaches, he or she needs to be student-centered not teacher-centered. When a leader works with his/her organization, they need to be stakeholder-centered. Being centered allows us to “Just Do It.”

“Just Do It” has a nice ring to it. In conjures up the mental imaging of getting things done without a lot of anxiety. No wonder it came from a great company. In the next few months why not try “emptying your cup” so you can “Just Do It.” You might like the results.

Now ask yourself… “Am I a Leader?”

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