If Bill Gates tells you to do something, you should probably do it.
So who am I to say “no” when he makes a video with the top books he recommends you read?
I watched the video, and one book stood out in particular…
Shoe Dog, now that’s a great book. Shoe dog is a memoir of Phil Knight’s journey from lost college graduate to CEO of Nike and titan of the sneaker industry.
Phil’s honest approach to writing Shoe Dog was really revealing and shows that there’s no such thing as an overnight success.
Business, finding your calling, pushing through challenges to reach massive success, Shoe Dog has it all.
But enough of me talking about HOW great a book Shoe Dog is. Let me tell you about WHY Shoe Dog was such a great book.
Takeaway 1 – Sometimes you won’t know where you’re going until you get there. Have faith in the process.
Phil didn’t know what he wanted to do after college, but he did know that he wanted to travel. So he found a friend who would join him, packed up what he had, and embarked on a trip around the world.
He decided to travel the globe and trusted that things would work themselves out. And spoiler alert, things worked out pretty well for him.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Phil. There were plenty of hard times where it would’ve been easy to quit following his interests and just get a stable nine to five job to feel safe.
Phil tried to sell encyclopedias in Hawaii, and to put it kindly, he wasn’t cut out for it. He pitched the idea of selling sneakers to his dad and was instantly shut down. He became an accountant but wasn’t intrigued by it. He faced multiple lawsuits, overwhelming adversity, and countless challenges, but he pushed forward with a tenacious work ethic and trusted that his gut would point him in the right direction.
It was a difficult road, but it was all the twists and turns in that road that brought Phil to where he is today.
As long as you’re hard working, constantly learning, and not afraid to fail, chances are strong that things will work out for you in the end.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs
Takeaway 2 – Be ready to work your ass off.
Without an intense discipline and extreme work ethic, Nike wouldn’t have been possible.
But Phil didn’t get this discipline or work ethic overnight. He built it over years.
Phil’s high school coach and future business partner, Bill Bowerman, ensured this when he trained Phil in track and field.
Bowerman’s intense coaching style taught Phil to never stop pushing himself, and that he could achieve more than he thought possible if he put his excuses aside.
Only once did Phil ever tried to skip track practice. He was feeling extremely sick and didn’t think he’d be able to run without vomiting everywhere. He went into Bowerman’s office and explained the situation. Bowerman gave Phil a fierce look and told him that he better see Phil at practice, and better yet, that they were running time trials that day.
Holding back the nausea in his stomach and the tears in his eyes, Phil went to practice wondering how he’d survive, let alone run a competitive time.
In the end, Phil pushed through the pain and ran one of his best times ever, surprising himself and his coach.
But Phil’s pursuit of excellence didn’t end here.
After Phil finished school, he could’ve taken it easy and told himself that he already learned all he needed to. This is what most people do, and it’s a huge cause of mediocrity. Instead, he pushed himself harder and joined the military reserves, training day after day and making friends who pushed him to grow.
Surrounding himself with people like Bowerman and situations like military training are what constantly reminded Phil that there’s always room to do better. This forced him to keep improving while others were taking it easy, bringing him miles ahead of the competition.
Sometimes it takes harsh adversity to push us to our limits and show us just how much we’re capable of. Adversity is what allows us to push through that voice in our head that’s telling us we should take it easy. That voice is trying to keep you safe and comfortable, but it’s this discomfort that causes you to learn and grow.
If you can learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable, you’ll start to grow leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else.
Takeaway 3 – Consistent effort leads to consistent results.
Worthwhile goals take time to achieve. The reason most people don’t achieve these goals is that they give up right before they’re about to reach them.
Think about it for a second… If you were driving cross country from New York to California, you wouldn’t expect to just snap your fingers and appear there, would you? You’d probably put the destination in your GPS or look at a map, and take it one mile at a time until you got there.
Why should your goals be any different?
Today, Nike is a behemoth in the sneaker industry and destroying the competition. It’s hard to imagine ever creating something that gigantic and successful. But when Phil first started selling sneakers, he did so out of the trunk of his green 1963 Plymouth Valiant. One pair of shoes at a time, Phil slowly grew his company.
Of course he wanted to compete with the big dogs, taking on companies like Adidas and Puma. But he understood that an empire isn’t built overnight. He focused on the small changes he could make that would lead to the big changes.
It won’t always be easy, but follow Phil’s lead and focus on small continuous steps towards your bigger goals, and trust in the process.
And if you ever get aggravated or feel like you’re not progressing fast enough, check out the following quote by Coach Sommer in Tools of Titans. It helps put me at ease and push forward, and I think it’ll do the same for you
“Impatience in dealing with frustration is the primary reason that most people fail to achieve their goals. Unreasonable expectations timewise, result in unreasonable frustration, due to a perceived feeling of failure. Achieving the extraordinary is not a linear process. […] Accept that quality long term results require quality long term focus.” – Coach Sommer
Takeaway 4 – Success can’t be reached alone.
No matter how hard you work, you can’t attain greatness alone. So much knowledge and skill is required to build something great, it’s impossible to have both the depth and breadth required to do it without help.
Phil wouldn’t have been able to grow Nike if it wasn’t for the amazing team he had by his side. His cofounder, Bowerman, was responsible for a lot of the innovations Nike added to their sneakers. His first employee, Jeff Johnson, was responsible for a lot Nike’s early sales and revenue. Nike’s brand wouldn’t stand out the way is does if it wasn’t for the creator of their iconic “Swoosh” logo, Carolyn Davidson.
Whatever the project is you’re working on, take the time to find partners who complement your skill set.
If you’re good at sales, you can find someone who’s good at product creation. If you handle the design work, maybe you need a marketer who can help spread your designs? Finding someone who’s skill set meshes well with yours will let you move fast, get more done, and focus on your strongest skills while they cover your weaknesses.
I recommend reaching out to people in your network and asking for referrals. Your friends and other connections know you best, and they can recommend someone who would be a good fit. Plus your new partner and you already have a mutual connection, meaning they already have the O.K. from someone in your network, improving the chances that this new teammate is a hard worker and great match.
If you’ve checked your network, but had no luck, AngelList is another great resource for finding business partners. You can set up a profile and describe your business, then wait for interested people to contact you. Or, you can search by specific roles and look through the different options. Either way, you’ll have a lot of new choices for experts in different industries.
But just how we need others to help us succeed, we also need to help other people that we know to learn, grow, and succeed. Sharing help with others is contagious and you never know when it’ll come back around and benefit you.
Take five seconds and share this post with someone else who could benefit. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the favor.