Saturday, June 4, 2011

Nike's Classic Bo Jackson 'Just Do It' Ad Inspires Me to a Great Feat of Initiative

As I looked out into the back yard, my eye was drawn to the tree where our bird feeders hang. Halfway up, a dead branch with brown leaves stood out in contrast to the rich green of the canopy. I had seen this ugly anomaly dozens of times before, and each time I had the same thought - too high, no limb for the ladder to rest on, too hard.

But for some reason I was fed up with seeing it. And then the image of Bo Jackson, the multi-sport superstar from the 1980s, flashed into my mind. "Just do it," said Bo. Just go to the garage, get the loppers and the ladder and take them out to the tree.

There was no safe, solid branch to rest the ladder on. But I tried extending the ladder full-length and resting it on the thick canopy. I tested it with my weight, and it worked. I quickly scaled the ladder and cut out the offending branch. While I was at it, I pruned some low-hanging branches that were blocking our view of the feeders. I carried the branches to the refuse pile and returned my tools to the garage.

Task completed. Total elapsed time: 7 minutes.

Twenty years ago, Bo Jackson was considered one of the great players in baseball. And football! His sport career was ended by an injury after only a few years. But being at the top of two professional sports is unprecedented. One wonders what he might have accomplished if he had stayed healthy.

One thing he accomplished was to be one of the first athletes to star in one of the famous Nike "Just Do It" ads. These commercials helped propel an amazing period of growth for Nike during the next 10 years. Here's one of the old "Bo Knows" ads...

The "Just Do It" ads were criticized by some. The slogan might create self-esteem conflicts for young people who aren't ready to live up to the challenge. "Just do it" might imply doing things regardless of the consequences, even if they're hurtful. With that interpretation, "just do it" might have been an apt slogan for the Nazis in World War II.

Nevertheless, Nike made countless "Just Do It" commercials worldwide, featuring local sports heroes in countries where Nike products are sold. For all I know, they're still making them. As a result, Nike is one of the top five recession-proof brands in the world.

I guess I'm one of those folks who likes the ads. To me, they're about taking action - initiative. Don't wait for permission. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. Don't procrastinate. Just get off your butt and do it! Initiative is a key aspect of character strength.

Bo knows backyard tree pruning! Bo says, Don't put it off, man. Just do it!

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use image purchased from

No comments: