Shoe Dog, the autobiography or memoir by Phil Knight, is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining account of the rise of the most iconic brand in sports, Nike. I found myself desparate to find out what happened next even though I already knew the broad strokes of most of the story.
At some point I'll have to sit down and write my own story of how I got into running and track. While this book is partly about business, it is mostly about humanity. About finding your way, "forgetting the self to know the self." Often reading about someone finding their calling can be more dishearting than not as we all have some innate drive to do what we were put on Earth to do and yet for one reason or another we are not. Maybe we are doing it but just don't see it. Maybe we can't accept it because we are seeking outside approval or we have some grudging sand castle of bias built by our parents and peers.
I remembered by reading this book that I love sport. Pure, unbridled competition. Striving towards a goal, facing obstacles, working hard, falling down, trying again. Putting your heart on the line and letting the stopwatch be the ultimate arbiter of justice. It made me remember this article I read about 10 years ago about a rower switching to cross country skiing. There was a quote "I believe sport is the last outpost where bullshit counts for nothing." Phil Knight describes watching Pre racing in the trials before Munich. Digging deep. Never stopping. That feeling is transcendent. I could feel it in my stomach, in my chest, when he was describing a race almost 50 years ago. There is nothing like it. That is fucking real.
People commuting to their same job, to their same desk, expounding on how their startup which helps you share cat pictures is changing the world. That isn't real. That shit is profane. Bullshit. A life devoid of feeling. This book struck me in ways I wasn't expecting, in ways I didn't even realize until I sat down to write this. Sure Nike is a shoe company. It is a business. But read this book, and you will see, as I did, that this company, this process, is somehow viscerally separate from those trite adjectives.