I wonder if there are repercussions for accusing a major shoe and sportswear company of plagiarizing one of their most successful marketing campaigns. I know the woman who invented the tag-line, Just Do It, and she doesn’t work for Nike.

Teaching responsibility

My parents believed in raising children who contributed to the family. They wanted to instill in us a strong work ethic, a sense of teamwork and shared responsibility. Thus, we were assigned chores. Although I would love to make the claim that we were assigned unreasonable (or even cruel) jobs, we were not. Our chores were sensible, practical, age-appropriate ways for us to help around the house.

My brothers and I were maniacal about avoiding our chores – we had avoidance elevated to an art form worthy of national honors. We spent a lot of time and effort scheming about how to get out of those dreaded chores.  Without a second thought, we would throw one another under the bus, and frame a sibling, letting him/her take the fall for unfinished tasks. When I ran out of strategies to evade my duties, I grudgingly completed them, making a lot of noise and complaining the whole way. My mother must have been so proud…

Enter Susan

At age 19, I moved to California to escape Wisconsin winters and to work on Catalina Island. There, I met Susan. She was my age, a runner (like me), friendly (like me), funny (like me), adventurous (like me) and hard-working.

If Susan saw something that needed to be done, she simply did it. She didn’t draw any attention to herself, she just did it.

As the summer progressed, I witnessed more and more how Susan would see a need, and she would do something about it. If it needing cleaning, she cleaned it. If it needed filling, she filled it. If it needed moving, she moved it. She just did it.  And she didn’t complain. How baffling.

Mirror, mirror

What happened next is fairly predictable – I looked in the proverbial mirror and didn’t like the unflattering reflection. I felt ashamed, and wondered why I fancied myself so self-important that I didn’t have to contribute. How lucky I am to have met this amazing woman. Maturity and her modeling changed my course.

You too

As a mom, I too, believe children should have chores.  We started having the kids help when they were very tiny. We would sing catchy “clean up” songs as we picked up toys together. Although they don’t love doing chores, they will complete them without the fanfare of my youth.

Today in our home, only one kiddo (out of five) will consistently and spontaneously do something simply because it needs doing. I can only hope the other four meet their own Susan someday. In fact, I hope everyone meets their own Susan, because we need more people willing to step in and meet a need when they see one.

C’mon, World. Just Do It.