I’ve been reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. It’s a fascinating read all the way through. But I was especially hooked when he described how he first had an inkling of what he wanted his life to be.
Here’s an excerpt.
Late at night I’d lie on my back, staring at college textbooks, my high school trophies and blue ribbons thinking: This is me? Still? […] On paper, I’m an adult. So why, I wondered, why do I still feel like a kid? […] Like all my friends I wanted to be successful… I wanted to win.
No, that’s not right. I simply didn’t want to lose.
And then it happened. As my young heart began to thump, as my pink lungs expanded like the wings of a bird, as the trees turned to greenish blurs, I saw it all before me, exactly what I wanted my life to be. Play.
Yes, I thought, that’s it. That’s the word. The secret of happiness, I’d always suspected, the essence of beauty or truth, or all we ever need to know of either, lat 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. There’s a kind of exuberant clarity in that pulsing half second before winning and losing are decided. 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. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much thought to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.
There are three reasons why this book got me teary-eyed and excited enough to write about it on this blog.
For one, he mentioned how in spite of being an adult with a degree from Stanford, he felt like a child. He hadn’t experienced much of real life, which he soon would, something I hear echoed often.
For another, he mentions the aspect of “play” which inspires him to start a business selling Japanese shoes in America. People who are truly excellent at what they do often say that when they are working, they often feel as if they are playing. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Flow calls this optimal experience” a state of consciousness called flow, which I have mentioned here.
Lastly, this book reminded me of something I had written months ago about how homeschooling moms sometimes discover a side business while in the process of their daily work. That’s exactly what happened to Knight, an avid runner.
You can pick up Shoe Dog here. Great read. Especially if you see those running shoes everywhere. Especially if your kids are into them.