A new pair of shoes will not change your life

The Reebok “Live with Fire” commercial is beautiful and inspiring. Do me a favor and take 61 seconds to watch it.

Pretty good, right? It makes you want to attempt a one-handed handstand, run a marathon, or start a dance crew.

The only problem, as with most marketing messages, is that there is some crafty sleight of hand going on through which the compelling words, images, and music are all tied to the Reebok logo. The ad is brilliant in that it positions the Reebok brand as a critical component of overcoming obstacles and becoming more alive, and while I’m certainly not crying foul (I love great marketing), I implore you to remember this: a new pair of shoes will not change your life.

I bought a new pair of shoes before I rekindled my love/hate relationship with running and, I’m not going to lie, putting them on is the only part of running I enjoy. Combined with my RUNNING SUCKS shirt, wearing those shoes makes me feel empowered to take control of my personal fitness. But the shoes themselves can’t make me feel anything, they are simply tools; impotent until I choose to put them to use. The feeling I derive from them is an internal manipulation, it’s me marketing to me.

Maybe you are like me and you think you need the shoes, metaphorically speaking, to tell yourself a story that gets you moving. That’s fine, but don’t ever give the shoes the credit for your hard work.