Why “Just Do It” Is Great For Nike But Not For You

When it comes to “motivating” others (and ourselves) there are three well-known phrases I see and hear a lot:

  • “Just Do It!”
  • “No excuses!”
  • “No one owes you anything!”

As a former psychotherapist and now as a coach for the past decade, I have spent thousands of hours with individuals and couples and also with leaders/managers and teams at work.

My job was, and still is, to help my clients change, grow, perform better and to get better results.

What I’ve found is that thinking or saying “Just Do It,” “No excuses” and “No one owes you anything” doesn’t work for most people most of the time.

That’s especially true when we’re not making the progress we want or seeing the results we want.

I’m not saying the two phrases above don’t ever work—I’m saying they make things worse more often than they help.

(They can work for some people when we’re coming from a place of inspiration, self-worth and confidence.)

However, if someone isn’t coming from a place of positive energy, “Just Do It,” “No Excuses”  and “No One Owes You Anything” taps into fear, shame and guilt.

That hurts our performance and well-being instead of helping us to do better and feel better.

My experience tells me that people don’t really want to make excuses. On they surface maybe, but not deeper down.

I believe people want to succeed. They want to do well.

They want to “Just do it” but they haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

Our challenge is to find out how to help them succeed and to feel good in the process.

Subtly criticizing or judging someone by saying or thinking “You need to quit making excuses” (even if that’s technically true) or “Just do it” doesn’t help most people feel good or do better.

It makes them feel guilty and inferior.

Feeling guilty and inferior blocks performance and results.

That’s true whether someone is wanting to “lose weight,” improve a relationship or to increase their sales results.

To help someone, or yourself to do better, seek first to understand, empathize and then find out what inspires that person.

If your team at work isn’t doing as good as you’d like, look at yourself first.

Are you inspiring them or just telling them they need to do better?

So maybe we can drop the “Just Do It,” the “No Excuses!” and the “No one owes you anything” and start saying:

  • I believe in you
  • Let’s figure this out together
  • Just because what you’ve been doing hasn’t been working doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
  • Let’s focus on what’s right about you and let’s find out what will work for you
  • Let’s do this together

P.S. If you want to dig deeper into how to “motivate” and inspire yourself and others, get my book today:

Enlightened Happiness: Your Guide to the Life You Were Meant to Live

P.S.S. Let me know what you think about my post today. Agree or disagree, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment and I’ll reply. Let’s have a conversation about this important topic.

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