9 Success Lessons from Usain Bolt’s Absurd Rio Olympics

 

Usain Bolt didn’t just glide into success in Rio. He applied powerful success lessons along the way–you can too.     BY SCOTT MAUTZ Author, Make It Matter: How Managers Can Motivate by Creating Meaning@scott_mautz

This just in: Usain Bolt is fast. I’m not. I move about as quickly as a manatee swimming in a vat of hair gel. But I’m quick to pick up on applicable lessons for business (and life) success from the world’s fastest man and his astounding Rio romp.

Here are nine useful ones:

  1. Let your purpose drive you

Bolt believes his purpose is to use his talents and success as a vehicle to give back to his nation. Just moments after his historic third consecutive 100-meter gold medal win, he tweeted:

Follow Usain St. Leo Bolt ✔ @usainbolt

“Jamaica Stand Up!!! This for you my people”

He’s gone on record as saying he will only do photo shoots in Jamaica as a way to create jobs for local residents. He lives to run, and runs to help others live.

What’s your purpose, your higher-order reason for the work you’re doing? Take the time to articulate it. Make it about something bigger than yourself. Let it inspire and sustain you through all your ups and downs.

  1. Be clear on what you want your legacy to be

Bolt spoke very clearly in Rio of his desired legacy. He wanted to cement his legacy by being the first to achieve the triple-triple (three gold medals in a row across three different track events).  Done and done. Clearly articulating your legacy and keeping it in front of you helps maintain perspective and energizes you to keep driving forward toward success.

  1. It’s all about that championship moment

Bolt said in many Rio interviews, “I live for these moments.”

You should too–at least on some level. And by the way, in case you didn’t notice, he delivers in those moments as well.

Recognize ahead of time when these moments will occur. Plan and practice for them so fiercely that when the time comes, championship actions just flow from you. Leave self-doubt at the starting block and ride self-belief to the finish line.

  1. Reframe your category to maximize growth

Bolt sees himself not as in the sport of sprinting but the category of entertainment. He talks often of wanting to provide entertainment for his fans. By the way, he’s entertained his way to a more than successful estimated net worth of over $60 million.

Looking to spark growth in your business? Reframe and expand the category you compete in. Ask yourself, “What business am I really in?” You’re not in the laundry detergent business; you’re in the clothing-care business. You’re not in the cereal business; you’re in the healthy-lifestyle business (think Special K).

Think broader to grow faster.

  1. Focus and fun go together

As Bob Costas astutely noted on television (minus the pinkeye this time), there is joy in Bolt’s performance.

Nobody questions his focus. And no one questions if he’s having fun.

You, too, can bring a relaxed intensity to your place of work, and success along with it.

  1. Overcome doubters with unbridled self-confidence

Bolt spoke openly of all his doubters. Um, yeah, those doubters really seemed to have weighed him down.

He simply counters doubt with healthy self-confidence, and you should too. While you’re at it, don’t be a doubter of others or a crusher of self-confidence.

Every day, you have a choice to plant seeds of growth or seeds of doubt.

  1. Respect your competition

Some say Bolt’s self-confidence crosses over to arrogance and disrespect. I respectfully disagree.

Bolt quite often would interrupt an interview to pay attention to the national anthem of competing countries. Competitive? You bet. Disrespectful to competition? No way.

This approach has helped him build his brand. It can help you, too.

  1. Forgive everyone, even yourself, and use it as fuel

During Rio, sportscasters recounted the story of the cameraman on a Segway who plowed into Bolt at the Beijing Olympics while he was celebrating his 200 meter win.

Later, the runaway driver gave Bolt a Chinese token of apology, which Bolt wore in his next race (and he won). Bolt would have had every right to be furious–he barely escaped serious injury.

But instead, he forgave and let it fuel him to success.

  1. Never decelerate when the goal is in sight

Bolt often doesn’t get out of the gate as fast as his competitors. But his competitors decelerate around the halfway mark as they start to tire. Bolt doesn’t.

He keeps the goal in sight, never lets up, and even has time to mug for the camera as he crosses the finish line.

Forget how you started in your endeavor if it didn’t go well. So what. It’s how you hold up down the stretch. Stay strong, keep striding, especially as you approach the finish line. Victory shall be yours if you just … keep … at … it.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com

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