The Perspective on SWOOSH!

In 1971, a graphic design student at Portland State University named Carolyn Davidson met then-accounting teacher/entrepreneur Phil Knight who asked Davidson to do some freelance design work for his company, Blue Ribbon Sports.

That same year, Knight introduced a new soccer cleat called the Nike. Knight challenged Davidson to design a logo for the shoe, an offer that she accepted at the rate of $2 per hour. One of the concepts Davidson pitched is now universally referred to as the Swoosh.

Love at first sight? No. Knight later recalled saying, “I don’t love it, but I think it will grow on me.”

Davidson submitted an invoice for $35; Knight paid her. (I’m not a mathematician, but I think that means Davidson billed Knight for about 17.5 hours of work. Had Davidson been a lawyer, she would have billed for 175 hours of work. Just sayin’…). Davidson retired from Nike in 1983, and today she spends time volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House at Legacy Emanuel Hospital & Health Center in Portland, Oregon.

Phil Knight, co-founder and Chairman of Nike, Inc., resigned as the company’s chief executive officer in 2004. Today, Knight’s stake in Nike gives him an estimated net worth of $12.7 billion.

Now here’s the thing. You be Davidson. Would you be PISSED that you got $35 while Knight got $12.7 BILLION? Let’s be honest: many people would have resentment and bitterness, saying “I gave you one of the most recognized commercial designs in the world, and ALL YOU GAVE ME IS 35 #%&@^! DOLLARS!?

Perspective. If you’re one of those people who would be tempted to feel that way, you need to adjust your perspective.

A more difficult yet rewarding perspective to take would be this–and I believe that this is the perspective that Carolyn Davidson took:

“I had the opportunity to do a job I loved, work in a field that I loved. And how many people can say ‘I designed a logo that is known across the world?‘ I can say that. How cool is that?”

That thing we obsess and curse about, that thing we let drive us to drink and drive us crazy, that thing is not the cause of our discontent. The cause of our discontent comes from the crap-colored glasses, the filters, that we choose to see the world through.

If you don’t like what you see, take off your glasses. If you still don’t like what you see, you’re probably looking in the wrong direction for happiness.

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