Photo: Creative Commons/thor_matt83

Usain Bolt is our inspiration for Monday Morning Motivation. You’ll recall Bolt is the sprinter from Jamaica who electrified the world during the Beijing games four years ago with his lightening speed and larger-than-life personality. Fast-forward four years and everyone’s gone all Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately”, on Bolt, asking whether he still had “it”, a chorus that only got louder with the fact that he narrowly qualified for the London games.

But it when it mattered, Bolt silenced his critics in convincing fashion and setting a record in the process. It sure didn’t look like that was going to happen, given the way the race started.

 

 

Bolt’s performance and the things he said afterward are why I’m using him as Monday Morning Motivation. So here are the four things we can all learn from Usain Bolt.

NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT: Have you ever watched Bolt in the warm-up to a race? He’s smiling, playing with the crowd, perhaps exchanging words with other runners. I have no idea what’s going through his head nor does anyone else. Bolt may be terrified, mentally running the paces,  but if he is we don’t know or see it. Find that which scares you, tame it however you must, but keep it to yourself.

USE WHAT YOU GOT: Bolt is 6’5” tall, and was literally head and shoulders above the field in the 100m race. That means he can cover more ground with fewer strides, just because he’s learned to use what he’s got. Of course, he has to really move those long limbs but he does and the result is a bunch of hardware around his neck. What do you have that makes you head and shoulders above the competition? Find it and exploit it.

LET YOUR PERFORMANCE DO THE TALKING: Nothing will silence critics faster than a successful performance, whether you work in a cubicle or as a competitive athlete. It’s hard to argue with success, so run your own race, know what end result you are going for, then put your head down and get the job done.

IT’S NOT HOW YOU START BUT HOW YOU END THAT MATTERS: Getting a 6’5” frame out of the starting blocks in explosive fashion cannot be easy and Bolt was among the last out of the gate. But he said this to a reporter following the race and it should be a reminder to us all:

“I stopped worrying about the start. The end is what’s important.”

YES! You may stumble over a hurdle (I’ve done that literally and figuratively), you may be slow out of the blocks (done that too) but that is not where your focus should be. It needs to be on the finish line. When Bolt was running, do you think he worried about the fact that this would probably go down as the fastest field in history? Nope. Was he watching what they were doing as he headed toward the finish line? Nope. He had his eyes singularly focused on the tape. He made up for a slow start, turned on the afterburners and crossed the line first, looking pretty relaxed the entire time. Where are you eyes focused? Are you worried about what everyone else is doing or are you honing in on the finish line? And more importantly, are you lamenting a late start (and allowing it to affect the rest of your performance) or do you understand it’s the finish that counts?

Thanks Usain Bolt for the inspiration. I’d love to stay but I gotta run; the finish line is coming into focus.

What is your finish line? How are you getting there and how do you overcome a slow start?

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