What is your calling?

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Shoe dog is a memoir by the creator and co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight. This biographical tale is awe-inspiring and motivational. I would like to focus on the final chapter astutely titled ‘Night’ as the books draws to a close.

“At the moment I’m worth $10 billion dollars, and each of these men is worth five to six times more.” 

Mr. Knight is referring to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet during an encounter with these two prominent individuals. This really put the motivation of doing things for money into perspective. Phil is worth an extraordinary amount. He is one of the richest individuals in the world by monetary standards. Yet, there are still individuals who dwarf him in comparison.

If Mr. Knight was doing it for money, he would still be desperately clambering for every last dollar in order to reach the top with the likes of Buffet and Gates. But he’s not. In fact, he even gives large sums of his money away.

If you are going to devote yourself to an idea, a vision or a goal then there has to be something more than money. Often we hear about people giving away money for various causes, when have you ever seen someone let go of a loved one or something they felt truly passionate about so easily? Assess your goals appropriately.

“Could I have risked as much, dared as much, walked the razor’s edge of entrepreneurship between safety and catastrophe, without the early foundation of that feeling, that bliss of safety and contentment? I don’t think so.”  

What we do on the outside is a reflection of who we are on the inside. We often don’t notice it because it can be subtle in its nature. Entrepreneurship is chaotic to say the least. If you are not able to cope with the swings, find another profession. I have witnessed first hand how founders can go from an alpha overlord to feeble kitten.

In our lives we need to find that feeling of bliss and safety that we can escape to when things go catastrophically downhill. Last Sunday, I was having one of those days where you can barely put on your underwear on the right way (I had to look for the label).  It is in those moments where you require a sanctuary to just be present with the world. Find your sanctuary or create one. It will serve you well.

“The buildings (Nike’s headquarters) are named after the men and women who have given us more than their names and endorsements… they’ve given us our identity.” 

Gratitude. Each person who decides to spend time with you and support your endeavours is unconsciously investing their most precious asset in you. Their time. Be grateful for their contribution and aim to give them a high return on their investment. Maybe one day you can name a building after them too.

“He (LeBron James) hands the watch. It’s engraved: With ‘thanks for taking a chance on me’.” 

None of us have perfect information on an individual. We have slight clues and observations of who they are, but we often know little about who people truly are deep down. I doubt anybody you would call ‘successful’ has waltzed up to the podium and collected the trophy and that’s that. There’s always a story of adversity, trials and tribulations on their journey to that podium.

Before you judge somebody too hastily give them a chance and let them show you what they are capable of. You may end up with a LeBron James or equivalent in your chosen field. All you should focus on is ensuring that those who take a chance on you are repaid way over and above their initial investment in you. Every single time.

“I chose to believe this euphoria scenario, to believe that my son didn’t suffer at the end. That was my son happy. I chose, because it’s the only way I can go on.” 

This part brought me to tears. Mr. Knight lost his son in a diving accident. I can not envisage what that would feel like. The key thing to note is Phil’s decision to focus on the most positive account of this traumatic event. For us to move forwards from tragic events and experiences we must come to terms with our loss, but in going forth consider this. What would you want your loved ones to feel in your absence? If I was ever to fall victim to death then I would hope that those who were close to me would continue to live their lives to the fullest and not be weighed down by my unfortunate outcome. We have to seek the light, even when darkness surrounds us. It’s the only way.

“It’s never just business. It never will be. If it ever does become just business, that will mean that business is very bad.”

The best example from my own experience is Fanbytes. The business has a seven figure valuation, yet Monday to Friday I would go to the office and have “productive fun” as I like to call it. Of course, at times things got very serious but those were not the memorable times. It was when the team was working in harmony, combining cutting-edge technology and expertise with like-minded and witty individuals. Remember life is short. Even if your business or idea fails, if you had fun and learnt useful things then it was far from a failure in my eyes. Savour those pleasurable moments. You never know when you might need to revisit them in times of trouble.

” … not to settle for a job or a profession or even a career. Seek a calling. Even if you don’t know what that means seek it. If you’re following your calling, the fatigue will be easier to bear, the disappointments will be fuel, the highs will be like nothing you’ve ever felt.”

Go and seek it.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to purchase the book, see the link below.


Enter your email below to receive weekly Summis straight to your inbox

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.