I’ve just read Phil Knight’s ‘SHOE DOG’, ‘A MEMOIR BY THE CREATOR OF NIKE’, and what a book, what story, what a guy! Yes, on the face of it, it’s the inspirational story of the man who started with a shoe and spent years in debt, on the precipice of failure, building what is now an iconic company, an icon, colossus, of a brand, the story of how a man went from a negative bank balance to being able to write that he’s worth “$10bn”, but it’s much more that that – it’s about a journey, a human experience, it’s about emotions, relationships, values, priorities in life, it’s about the insights of a man who followed his dream with focus, determination, commitment, perseverance, about a man who was fueled by an undying spirit, about a man who wanted, and I dare say still wants, to live life to the max.
Knight’s thoughts about what he wanted to include in his book:
“God how I wish I could relive the whole thing…I’d like the share the experience, the ups and downs, so that some young man or woman, somewhere, going through the same trials and ordeals, might be inspired or comforted. Or warned. Some young entrepreneur, maybe, some athlete or painter or novelist, might press on.
It’s all the same drive. The same dream.
It would be nice to help them avoid the typical discouragements. I’d tell them to hit pause, think long and hard about how they want to spend their time, and with whom they want to spend it for the next forty years. I’d tell men and women in the midtwenties not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you have ever felt.”
For me, THE paragraph which says most about the man, Phil Knight, – and there are paragraphs which say other things about him – is this:
“For some, I realize, business is the all-out pursuit of profits, period, full stop, but for us business was no more about making money than being human is about making blood. Yes, the human body needs blood. It needs to manufacture red and white cells and platelets and redistribute them evenly, smoothly, to all the right places, on time, or else. But that day-to-day business of the human body isn’t our mission as human beings. It’s a basic process that enables our higher aims, and life always strives to transcend the basic processes of living—and at some point in the late 1970s, I did, too. I redefined winning, expanded it beyond my original definition of not losing, of merely staying alive. That was no longer enough to sustain me, or my company. We wanted, as all great businesses do, to create, to contribute, and we dared to say so aloud. When you make something, when you improve something, when you deliver something, when you add some new thing or service to the lives of strangers, making them happier, or healthier, or safer, or better, and when you do it all crisply and efficiently, smartly, the way everything should be done but so seldom is—you’re participating more fully in the whole grand human drama. More than simply alive, you’re helping others to live more fully, and if that’s business, all right, call me a businessman. Maybe it will grow on me.”
This is the story of a man who has lived a life manifesting integrity, lived a life in accordance with his values, this is the story of a man committed to living a life with his body, mind, heart and soul in sync, this is the story of a man with great insight into the human condition, a man whose journey has been one of finding his role in life, a man who espouses compassionate capitalism, a man who built a great company, a great brand, who humbly acknowledges the input and contributions of others, a man who sees, in amassing wealth, the opportunity to better the lives of others.
I heartily recommend this book!