Nike has been a master at creative marketing. One of my favorite ads was a print ad which featured NFL Hall of Fame Running Back, Barry Sanders. Although he never reached the Super Bowl, Sanders was voted by NFL Top 10 as the most elusive runner in NFL history. At the time, Nike included Sanders in their “Just Do It” marketing campaign, which kicked off in 1988 and ended up being one of the top taglines of the 20th Century. The ad reads:
Too often we are scared. Scared of what we might not be able to do. Scared of what people might think if we tried. We let our fears stand in the way of our hopes. We say no when we want to say yes. We sit quietly when we want to scream. And we shout with the others, when we should keep our mouths shut. Why? After all, we do only go around once. There’s really no time to be afraid. So stop. Try something you’ve never tried. Risk it. Enter a triathlon. Write a letter to the editor. Demand a raise. Call winners at the toughest court. Throw away your television. Bicycle across the United States. Try bobsledding. Try anything. Speak out against the designated hitter. Travel to a country where you don’t speak the language. Patent something. Call her. You have nothing to lose and everything, everything, everything to gain. JUST DO IT.
So, what makes us so afraid? Fear is an emotional and physical reaction brought on by something that we perceive to be dangerous. Whether real or not, our “fight or flight” response is triggered and our brain and organs respond in a manner as if we are caught up in a situation that seems to be life or death. Then, we notice that our heart is racing, our palms are sweating, and we get caught up in a vicious cycle of monitoring just how afraid we are! Even when we realize that our fears may be irrational, suddenly the thought of “asking her out” turns in to “what if…” Anxiety kicks in and we imagine the worst…a worst that seems like something we will never get over. “What if she says no…I’ll be devastated and will never get over it!” The worst case scenario suddenly becomes the only possible outcome and we make excuses and do everything to avoid that situation…possibly missing out on the chance that she would have said yes!
In the book “Feel the fear and do it anyways,” Susan Jeffers discusses the crippling effects of fear. She explains that choices are not opportunities to make mistakes, but valid paths to growth. It’s only through taking risks that we learn and grow stronger. Eleanor Roosevelt said “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
When you stop and think back to the times that you let fear prevent you from doing something that you wanted to do, what are your thoughts now? Most of us think something like “Why didn’t I take a chance,” or “If only….” It’s easy to put scary situations in to perspective when they are long behind us. If only we could learn to teach ourselves to challenge our beliefs and “what ifs” at the time and “feel the fear and do it anyways?” We might just find that most of our fears were not valid and that we can survive those scary situations…often with success (and, if not, at least we tried!). Life is short, so learn how to face your fears and take risks. You may just find that the rewards are immeasurable.
Nike and Barry Sanders seemed to get that. If we were to follow Nike and Jeffers lead, it seems we could learn to – Just “STOP and” Do it “Anyways.”