Drop The Narrative And “Merely Do The Work”

Photo by Kristian Egelund on Unsplash

Nike’s tagline “Just Do It” is perhaps the most recognizable marketing slogan of all time.

For over three decades this catch phrase has served as a call to action for all the slackers out there to get off their ass, go for a run, and most importantly buy sneakers!

In a recent episode on the podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show, Best selling author and speaker Seth Godin suggested an updated version of the phrase geared towards creatives and entrepreneurs:

“Merely do it”.


“Merely do the work”.

While not as pithy as the original, I prefer Godin’s version of the expression.

Godin goes on to explain that we spend a needless amount of time creating narratives around the work we do. They may be things like:

“I’m not a good writer unless I get “X” many views for my article”

“If this book isn’t a best seller, then I’m a failure”

“This story will shut up all the assholes who laughed at my English Degree.”

Do these narratives serve you? Do they make it easier to finish the work that needs to be done?

Completing the oft-quoted 10,000 hours required to master a skill is hard enough, will adding another emotionally charged element lessen the load?

I think not.

Yet many of us define ourselves by these stories. They inflame our insecurities, and are often the reason we quit just as we’re showing signs of improvement.

I say we ditch the dead weight. Narratives play out better on the page than in our head.

So show up, shut up, and merely do the work.