What are some popular slogans you can think of? You may immediately think of something like "America Runs on Dunkin" or "Got Milk?", but perhaps one of the most famous marketing campaigns comes from Nike with their "Just Do It" slogan.
The campaign's hit slogan has an interesting origin. It's creator, Dan Wieden, who came up with the slogan in the late 80's, was inspired by the story of Gary Gilmore. Gilmore was a convicted murderer who was executed by firing squad in 1977. If you read about his trial and time in prison, you'll find that he was the first person to be executed in the United States in nearly a decade, so he was well known in the news. Before his death, he was asked if he had any last words, to which he replied, "Let's do it."
When Wieden pitched his campaign slogan of "Just Do It" to Nike, it wasn't that he was inspired by Gilmore's life, but rather the definitive intention in his final statement. For a up and coming sports and fashion brand, this idea of laying out all your cards on the table and committing to your goals was something the brand wanted to capture and capitalize on. And thus, one of the most famous slogans came to be and is still in use over thirty years later.
Why We Wait
Now obviously neither I or Wieden are trying to glorify Gilmore's life or say that justice wasn't served, but there is an interesting parallel to be drawn from his story. When faced with death (even deserved death), Gilmore did not flinch. He didn't beg or plea, he didn't stall or try to run away, he simply committed to the task laid before him, though unpleasant and terrifying.
A lot of times, the reason we put something off is because it is difficult or scary. Instead of acting in the present, we push off tough tasks, hoping that we will be better equipped to deal with them in the future. But what if we followed Nike's slogan and instead of thinking about the unpleasantries, we just focused on the "now". What if we "just do it" and continue putting one foot in front of the other.
A lot of the time, we put too much focus on the future. We talk about how difficult an exam will be so that studying seems useless. We concentrate on how tough the competition will be so we become too scared to enter the contest. But if we commit to the task at hand and just dive right in, we can grow and learn. And who knows...we may even succeed.
Changing Our Mindset
There is a great quote from Theodore Roosevelt in which he said, "The only man who makes no mistakes is a man who never does anything." The former president presents two mindsets. A person who focuses on their fear of making mistakes and the person who focuses on taking action. You may be one or the other, but you will never be both.
We should teach our children that it is better to take action and fail than it is to procrastinate out of fear or difficulty and never have the opportunity to succeed. It is great to have big goals, but sometimes we must step back and focus on just moving one foot forward, one step at a time. Instead of saying, "You can do 100 push ups," you can instead say, "Wow, you did five push ups today! I bet tomorrow you can do six!" If we can support our children in their small accomplishments, then the large ones won't seem so impossible.
So what about in our own lives? Ask yourself, "What am I achieving by putting it off another day?" The answer you'll find (most likely) is that your not achieving anything. Once you realize that, ask yourself the opposite: "What can I achieve if I was to start right now?" You may not be about to reach some gigantic, magnificent achievement, but you'll be moving in the right direction, and that is a success.
About the Author
Master Matthew Eyler is a 4th degree black belt in the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do and a New York State certified general and special education teacher. He has over 20 years experience practicing self-defense and teaching students of all ages and abilities.