#2 Without Risk there is no Genius – when Nike decided to get into football, everyone thought they were crazy. Here was an upstart American company who new nothing about the world’s favourite game. But it was for the very fact that it IS the world’s favourite game, that Nike decided to go after it.
They rallied, created an incredible football organization, signed the Brazil national team, threw everything that was brilliant at product innovation and before long, became the credible force they are in the game today. They just believed they were going to succeed. And so they did.
I loved this constant sense of risk. It was addictive to be around. Yet so often as individuals, the fear of failure gets to us before we even try.
Sheryl Sandberg asked the question in her book Lean In: ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ and I think it’s a brilliant question because it not only encourages us to go places we don’t usually allow ourselves to go, but it also starts to show us that maybe the answers really just aren’t that scary once we say them out loud.
I’ve seen so many people get to grips with their fears through coaching and every time it thrills me to see the leaps that people make when they break through the invisible barriers that fear creates.
Bring it on…
Having written the previous blog, I was asked what I actually talked about in the Lancaster speech so thought I’d share a quick summary. (these are the last blog posts about Nike and then I promise to shut up about it…).
So here they are, my 3 biggest gifts from Nike (and there were many….)
#1 The Guts to Lead from the Front - Nike’s first sponsored athlete, Steve Prefontaine, had a race plan that meant leading from the start line. It was a confident, some might say cocky, strategy that pretty well always paid off for Pre.
Nike always takes this approach. Whether in product innovation or brand marketing or pretty much everything they do, they just refuse to follow the lead of others, to worry what other people might think or what the competition might do. For sure they passionately care about what their consumers care about but for everyone else, they pretty much block them out.
In my coaching, I’m constantly staggered about how much people worry about what other people think, the constant pull to follow the herd. Yet when people don’t follow, when they forge their own path and refuse to listen to the naysayers, that’s when the magic happens. That’s when people feel liberated, when they grow and feel mighty. That’s when people take stop blaming and complaining, take control and see extraordinary things happen in their lives.
Pre died tragically very young but his legacy lives on in Nike and certainly continues to be a great lesson for the rest of us.