Cartoon Man Running on TrackUsain Bolt is the “fastest man alive” after winning Gold in the 100 meter dash at the London Olympics. The Jamaican sprinter is a legend in his own time after winning his second Gold medal in one of track’s most recognized events. What are some lessons that entrepreneurs can learn from this remarkable competitor?

  • It’s not the start that counts, so much as how you finish. In track events, getting a fast start can make a big difference in a runner’s chances of winning the race. Even minute differences down to a tenth of a second in how quickly and forcefully a runner “bolts” out of the starting blocks can make the difference between a Gold medal and 4th place. Usain Bolt’s running style is unusual for having a slow start (he’s almost always one of the last runners to leave the starting blocks) but a blisteringly fast finish. Even though he might have a slower reaction time to the starter’s pistol, Bolt is able to close down the stretch. In fact, he closes so well that it’s almost a different race in the last 50 meters down the track. Even though he’s running against the fastest runners in the world, he beats them convincingly down the stretch. In the same way, some entrepreneurs are slow to start on a project, but they finish strong. Some businesses start slow and then build up momentum. Some entrepreneurs start a business and then watch it fail, only to learn from the experience and go on to greater success.
  • Play to your strengths. Usain Bolt’s weakness has been his starts – but instead of obsessing over how to get out of the starting blocks faster, in the weeks leading up the 2012 Olympics, Bolt and his coaches decided to focus instead on his strengths in the last 50 meters of the race. Some business owners make the mistake of focusing only on their shortcomings and weaknesses, constantly trying to get better at things that don’t come naturally to them. Instead of getting bogged down on the areas of business and entrepreneurship that aren’t your biggest strengths, you should find ways to focus on doing what you do best. By all means, manage your weaknesses and get help where you need it, but your business will thrive if you spend more of your time doing what you do best. If you love working with customers and making sales but you hate accounting, don’t get bogged down with staring at spreadsheets if it’s keeping you from connecting with the customers that make your business succeed.
  • Be bold, but humble: Usain Bolt is recognized as track and field’s biggest star, but he’s also respected for his humble attitude. Even after winning his second gold medal in the 100 meters, Bolt focused on what he still hoped to accomplish, saying that he won’t be considered a legend unless he can also get a gold medal in the 200 meter event. He has confidence in his abilities but he also sees his limits. In fact, the world’s fastest man suffered a humbling defeat in June at the Jamaican Olympic trials, where he finished second in the 100 meter qualifying race. He says that the experience made him work harder to get ready for London. In the same way, every entrepreneur needs to guard against arrogance. Even as you pursue exciting goals for your business, you need to stay emotionally balanced and centered. Remember your roots. Express gratitude for all of your success. Be generous to those who have helped you along your way. Learn from your defeats, and keep running your business with your head held high.

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