Phil Knight …
- built an empire based on his vision of shoes … Nike
- the man behind the ‘Just Do It’ and Air Jordon campaignsbuilt an empire based on his vision of shoes … Nike
- the man behind the ‘Just Do It’ and Air Jordon campaigns
- the man who will soon be retiring from the world’s #1 sports merchandising company he co-created … one that has 63,000 employees and $31 billion in annual sales.
Obviously, it didn’t happen overnight given that his first year (1964) he had $8,000 in sales and $234 in profit yet he created an institution that is described in an article in ‘Investor’s Business Daily’.
Granted, the people I know and with whom I work as a coach are not people out to build competitive shoe companies. What they often are, however, are people wanting to climb higher and higher on the success ladder … in their jobs, departments and/or businesses. And I believe you’ll find that some of the same things that drove and motivated Knight can definitely motivate us to support our desire to achieve our own climbs. I think you’ll see the connection.
#1 – His Perseverance: One of Knight’s college teachers made this point … “The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way – that leaves us.”
Of course we are all faced with competition and yet, it is only true competition to the extent that they, too, are other than cowards or weak. Many people start and some don’t have the push to prevail. This leaves a much smaller group of true competitors and sets us apart.
#2 – His inspiration: “The secret of happiness … lay somewhere in that moment when the ball is in midair, when both boxers sense the approach of the bell, when the runners near the finish line and the crowd rises as one. … I wanted that, whatever that was, to be my life, my daily life. … So that morning in 1962 I told myself: Let everyone else call your idea crazy … just keep going. Don’t stop.”
How strong is your own desire to succeed beyond all others? What is your secret of happiness that is the true motivator to enable you to just keep going and without stopping? Finding that can be the key to differentiate you and carry you to the height that you envision.
#3 – His passion: Knight was infatuated, something crucial in what drives him: “Your business has to be something you really love. Remember that there will be a lot of dark moments. You never make it overnight. You have to be prepared for the tough times. As my Stanford Small Business Management professor liked to say, “The only time you must not fail is the last time you try.”
How much do you love the job you’re doing, the field you’re in or the business you run/manage? Success is never easy however it’s the passion we feel for what we are doing that can drive us through the challenges that will undoubtedly be encountered.
#4 – His differentiation: Knight said “I don’t want to be like my competitors.” We take a lot of our culture off the athletic field. Just like with tackles and running backs, we have to have better people than the competition.”
Better people or being better than all others. What does that mean for what you do and what can you do to enhance the divide between yourself and others as our competitors?
Phil Knight believed in running. He believed that if people got out and ran a few miles every day, the world would be a better place, and he believed these shoes were better to run in. People, sensing his belief, wanted some of that belief for themselves. Belief, he decided is irresistible.
How committed are you to what you are doing and how much better do you believe you can do it than all others? As such what can you do to widen that gap to cement your belief that you are the best. As Knight said, people will sense that and want it for themselves.
We all spend the lion’s share of our time devoted to the ‘doing’. The what’s, the whys and the hows dominate our attention. And yet, spending ‘Knight’ time contemplating the points above can provide an opportunity to re-establish your vision for the ‘being’ … what’s possible, what you truly want and how you intend to get there.