Usain Bolt: 6 things we can learn from his success

Usain Bolt, Success

6 things we can learn from Usain Bolt about success.

Usain Bolt: 6 things we can learn from his success: Tips & Questions

We have all been moved by Usain Bolt’s Olympic performances. Time and time again he rises to the occasion. This man is in the top 10 fastest people in the world. His confidence, and dedication to his craft is admirable.  He also has a very colorful personality that has demanded the attention of us all over and over again. His athletic record challenges us all to examine our current situations. I challenge all of my clients, student athletes and readers…ask yourself the tough questions! What can we learn from this man’s remarkable career? Here are 6 things we can learn from Usain Bolt about success…

1.) Never Forget Your Beginnings!

I spent my honeymoon in Jamaica. On our way to the resort, we drove by Bolt’s High School. One of the other tourists on the bus arrogantly blurted out, “He wouldn’t have stood a chance against Carl Lewis…He is not the same caliber of athlete”. Now, let me paint a picture for you.

My husband and I landed in the beautiful Montego Bay Airport approximately 20 minutes ago. We walked out of customs, after grabbing our bags from the green and yellow conveyor belt system. We stepped outside and located our hotel shuttle.

The sun was bright. The air was crisp. The driver immediately welcomed us, saying, “Welcome Home”. My husband and I smiled at the driver and then at each other and found our seats on the bus. Once we were on the road, I could not help but to notice that plush green grass, the clear blue water of the coastline and the very modest half built homes that scattered along our route. When we approached Mr. Bolt’s high school and I digested the Carl Lewis Comment, I was bothered. For a man to come from the humble beginnings that his past provided to become a world class athlete is amazing. He is now one of the fastest men in the world.

Remember to take a moment and appreciate your beginnings. You may not have had the best childhood, but that is not the point. Consider your beginnings. Remembering your beginnings helps you to not let success go to your head. Humility is a sign of strength, not weakness. People with humility can manage adversity, success and other peoples success. They possess an inner peace. Learn from your past!

  • What is your earliest memory?
  • How is your childhood caregiver like you? Unlike you?
  • What is your biggest lesson you learned from elementary, middle and high school?
  • Is there one holiday memory that stands out for you?
  • How did you decide what you wanted to do with your life?
  • What’s the most memorable family vacation you took?
  • What’s the most difficult thing that ever happened to you? How did you deal with it?
  • Are there times in your past that you remember more vividly than others? Why?
  • What have been the most influential experiences in your life?

2.) Learn from the best!

Surround yourself with the best of the best. Usain Bolt was coached by former sprinter Pablo McNeil. Those that believed in him, found him the best coaches and mentors. If you want to paint unicorns for a living, reach out to others that paint unicorns. Seek the best unicorn painters to teach you the craft. Seek mentors that write about unicorns, collect unicorns, sell unicorns, or even market unicorns for sale.

Often, people don’t want to hear about others’ success. Remember, how people define success, will be different. I have friends that if I tell them a success story, they immediately “one-up” it with one of their own, or they find a reason to criticize the success story in a negative light. Now if your circle consists of people that are negative and critical it makes it near impossible to move forward. Always reflect and question how the people in your life impact your life goals. Here are some more tips and questions…

  • Are you only staying around these people because of the time and energy you have invested?
  • Are the people in your life supportive of your work and actions?
  • Over the years, do the people closest to you keep score of the things they do for you, or do they give freely from their heart?
  • Does the good they bring to your life outweigh the bad?

3.) Clearly define and refine your goals!

Usain Bolt was encouraged by his mentor and coaches to pursue running after he displayed his leadership in cricket while in grade school. Once he knew in his heart that he had the raw talent to run, he pursued it whole heartedly. It is important to know what you want and to define your goals. Know what is success in life. In order to define clear goals, you must determine exactly what you want to achieve. If you do not know where you are going, then you cannot figure out a route to get there. Be mindful that sometimes things do not go as planned, however if you have goals you can always refine and redirect them. One small step forward is better than no steps at all. Once you know where you want to be at the “end,” and exactly what you want to achieve, you will be able to come up with the goals that will help you get there.

  • Where do you see yourself in 3 months?
  • Where are you in 6 months to a year?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Make the time to sit down and brainstorm your long-term dreams. Create a vision board!
Usain Bolt: 6 things we can learn from his sucess

Usain Bolt: 6 things we can learn from his sucess

4.) Be relentlessly resilient!

Usain Bolt’s running career started with a failure.  His first major international event was the ‘IAAF World Youth Championship’, held in 2001 at the Hungarian city of Debrecen. Although, he failed to emerge victorious in the 200m qualifier event, Bolt managed to finish the event in 21.73 seconds, which was his personal best at that time. Over and over again I hear an underlying fear of failure from my clients. The ability to learn from mistakes is a skill that can be built upon. This is a continual struggle. The more setbacks you experience, the more resistant you become to taking risks.  Just think back to your 17 year old self. How often did you think of the “what ifs”? Usain’s Bolt relentless ability to continue to work and strive towards goals has brought him multiple gold medals.


  • How might your life be better with this new goal?
  • Do you really want to complete this action? How much? Give it a score out of 10.
  • What would stop you from doing that? What could go wrong?
  • How do you normally sabotage yourself – and what will you do differently this time?
  • How will you reward yourself when you complete the actions towards your goal?

5.) Don’t let what other people think deter and distract you!

There will always be critics. These critics are the people that lack faith in you and faith in themselves. This lack of faith will cause them to be critical, negative and draining. Feedback is great when it is constructive. Keep in mind that negative feedback means that you are trying, prospering and getting someone else’s attention. Many believed that Usain Bolt lacked sufficient experience to participate in the ‘Beijing Summer Olympics’, which was to be held in 2008, he silenced his critics by qualifying for the 100m final event. Bolt won the 100m final, by completing the race in a mere 9.69 seconds. He worked through all of the negative, eventually became a world-renowned icon. He also won the 200m final with a new Olympic record of 19.30 seconds. He won his third gold medal at 2008 Olympics in 4x100m relay. It is good to consider how your goals impact your relationships.

  • How will taking action towards this goal impact other people in your life?
  • Who else could be affected if you achieve this goal? Then, What if their response is not what you expect?
  • How does what others think and feel affect how YOU feel about your goal?
  • Who might be upset if you achieved this goal?

6.) Don’t worry about perfection, be you!

Usain Bolt breaks records with his shoelaces untied, winks “Come get me” at the cameras while his rivals wait in the neighboring lanes. He also has indicated that he prefers KFC to Vegetables. (Short List, 2015) With that being said perfection is a myth. Regimented diet plans, special socks and day and night training is only a peace of the puzzle. Greatness comes from determination, hard work and an overall mental well-being. Always strive to achieve balance. A balance that allows you to feel confident. Many would say that Usain Bolt’s behaviors are strange or unorthodox, however it is him being him. He is comfortable and confident with who he is.

Perfectionism fuels negative thinking. Perfectionism can make you feel depressed, frustrated, anxious, or even angry, especially if you constantly criticize yourself for not doing a good enough job. Start treating yourself with more kindness and compassion. The more willing you are to love yourself, in all of your dysfunction, the less you will search for happiness in the wrong places. Find comfort in your own self-love. Appreciate your flaws. The more you seek comfort through external fixes the more frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry you will feel.

  • Do I have trouble meeting my own expectations?
  • Do I often feel frustrated, depressed, anxious, or angry while trying to meet my goals?
  • Have I been told that my standards are too high?
  • Do my standards get in the way? For example, do they make it difficult for me to meet deadlines, finish a task, trust others, or do anything spontaneously?
  • What do I need to let go of (a goal or something else) to ensure I achieve my goals?”

6 things we can learn

What does success mean to you?

What can we learn from this man’s remarkable career? I encourage you all to consider Usain Bolt’s life, and incorporate these tips for success in your life. The true meaning of success lies within your self-awareness. Be aware of your beginnings, define what the meaning of success is to you, consider your relationships, and always strive to bounce back. A set back is a set up and perfectionism, if not careful, will lead you to procrastination! These are the keys/tips for success in life from one of the 10 fastest humans. Editors. (2016). The website. A&E Television Networks. Available from: [Accessed 20 Sep 2016]

Usain Bolt. [Internet]. 2016. The Famous People website. Available from: // [Accessed 20 Sep 2016].

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