For most of my life, there has been a subliminal message echoing through the halls and the gymnasiums in school. "Just Do It." Three small words that define an idea that has sprung into generations of culture, movement and ideas. And with today’s insurmountable advice of "the top 10 ways to make the most of your life" or "the top 20 ways we can utilize our 20s," it seems that this message can be stretched to different mediums.
But what if I told you that these three inspirational words came from a completely different context? Or that this powerful statement were the last words of Gary Gilmore, a notorious killer who was executed by the state of Utah in 1977? Ironically enough, Nike went from $877 million to $9.2 billion in sales over the 10 years since ad execs came out this culture defining slogan.
Well my fellow Generation Y’ers, truth be told, this phrase stuck through many minds and gave millions the motivation to not only jump the next hurdle in life, but also spend $200 on a pair of sneakers. This is called marketing at it’s finest. And considering the amount of success Nike has had, it’s not a surprise that many of our favorite inspiring words are short and simple yet convey a deeper message.
From “Got Milk” to “I’m Loving It,” these words have been engraved in our minds for years. What we take from it is either what the head honchos from companies want (money) or the power it gives us to take charge.
There is no formula for happiness, nor is there some defining rulebook to stand by. Optimism is a great perspective keep, but action speaks louder than words. From the greatest authors to the greatest philanthropists, the notion of being positive is one thing, but the concept of putting your heart into something is what separates them from humans to icons.
But we have to anticipate the possibility that just doing it might not be enough. Even though not everything works out the way we want, persistence is truly a component to achieving a goal.
You may remember Zach Sobiech, a brave young man diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, who lost his battle with the bone cancer but won his battle in life. After releasing his viral sensation “Clouds,” his message was accepted and cheered throughout the world. Maybe he didn’t use the magical three words "Just Do It" but he did take charge, making millions of people smile and showing us what it really means to live life to the fullest—no rulebook necessary.
"My closure is being able to get my feelings into these songs so they can have something to remember me by or lean on when I'm gone," Zach explains. "I want to be remembered as a kid who went down fighting, and didn't really lose."
In retrospect, the origin doesn’t surpass the value of the ideas here because at the end of the day, the message is clear. You want to go out there and show everyone how amazing life can be. You want to show your boss who’s the man. You want to help people and make the world a better place. The power is within you, so go out there and just do it.