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Shoe Dog - Book Review

Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.

Have you ever felt exhausted, yet exhilerated? Spent, yet satisfied? Tired, yet invigorated? Phil Knight takes you on this incredible journey of starting a company from a Crazy Idea, stumbling, falling and still running, beautifully decribed in his book, Shoe Dog, a memoir by about the creation of Nike. We all want to succeed in life, that’s a no-brainer. But would you want to fail?

Don’t stop. Don’t even think about stopping until you get there, and don’t give much though to where “there” is. Whatever comes, just don’t stop.

Knight was a runner - he found catharsis in breaking down and rebuilding himself. “When you run around an empty road, you have no real destination. The act itself becomes the destination.”, Knight writes. This is just one of the many parallels he draws between running and his Nike journey. When I finished the book, I wondered if Knight was destined to create Nike. But like every moment in life, we can only truly find meaning in it after the experience. We can only connect the dots looking backwards. Everything else is a leap of faith. Take it, or keep wondering. “Have faith in yourself, but also have faith in faith.”, he explains. And you’re bound to trust him - he was a natural introvert, his shyness kept him from doing great as a salesman early in life and yet he blazed his path forward with belief and conviction.

And maybe it would cure my burnout. Maybe the cure for any burnout, I thought, is just to work harder.

Knight writes this line while describing a phase in his journey when he was drained of energy, having just overcome a problem, when another came up. He was burned-out, but he had to keep going to save his company. Reflecting on this, I wonder if motivation is a farce - a first world problem designed by us to give us an excuse for not working as hard as we should. One the many lies we tell ourselves. You cannot stroll if the ground beneath you feet is ablaze - you’ll have to die running.

I’m incredibly happy I read this book. It’s now in one of my top reads - one I can recommend to anyone without hesitation. However, I feel like reading it all over again for the first time. It’s what they call “bittersweet”.

It wasn’t joy. It wasn’t relief. If I felt anything, it was… regret? Good God, I thought. Yes, regret. Because I honestly wished I could do it all over again.