3 Business Lessons from Usain Bolt


Photo by Nick J Webb

The Olympics Games in London have come to a close. As with every Olympics there are magical moments of greatness that inspire you and moments that tear at your emotions when you know an athlete has put every ounce of their heart and soul into their event but on that given day, it just wasn’t enough. Michael Phelps set an Olympic record medal count that may never be broken. Gabby Douglas became a household name overnight by winning the women’s gymnastics all-around competition. And then there is Usain Bolt.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt came in as a favorite and is leaving the Olympics as one of the greatest sprinters of all time. He became the first person in history to retain both the 100M and 200M Gold medals in back-to-back Olympics with the potential of a three-peat in 2016. Whether you like the guy or not, he is without question the Michael Phelps of the track.

….Bolt’s Business Lessons

You may not be able to run the 100M in 9.58 seconds, but there are some excellent lessons you can take from Usain Bolt and apply to your business that should add money to your bottom line. Here are three that struck me as I was watching Bolt rewrite the Olympic history books.

When you live on an island, it is important to surround yourself with a good team.

Let’s face it, it can be lonely at the top when you own your own business, you can feel like you are on an island with no one to talk to. Bolt literally lives on an island, but he is surrounded by a great team of athletes and coaches.  Despite his great talents, he isn’t doing it alone. Surround yourself with other business owners and seek out a good business advisor or coach.

Reducing steps in processes increases production

At 6’ 5” ,Usain Bolt is a towering runner. It actually takes him longer to get up to full speed than his closest competitors. But, because of his long legs he has a longer stride. So over the course of 100M he only runs 41 steps vs the 44 steps of most 100M sprinters. He eliminated 3 steps! It may not seem like a lot, but it’s a big reason for his success. Where can you reduce unnecessary steps in your business to increase production or efficiency?

When the pressure is on, stay loose and have fun

On the night of 100M finals all of the athletes were stone faced serious except for one guy – Usain Bolt. He was smiling at the camera, staying loose and looking like he was getting ready for a party. This may not work for everyone, but it certainly reminded me of the importance of keeping things in perspective, the power of laughter, and enjoying what you do.

So what do you think? How do you do in these areas? When is the last time you had a good conversation about your business with someone outside your business? What about removing wasted steps in a process? Are you keeping things in perspective and having fun owning your business? Most business owners list “to have more fun and freedom” as a reason for being an owner, so are you? Hope you have enjoyed the Olympics. Feel free to share your thoughts on this or any of your thoughts on the 2012 Olympics.

Chris Steinlage   Kansas City Business Coach

4 thoughts on “3 Business Lessons from Usain Bolt”

  1. Thanks for the article Shawn, I’m paying it forward. As a pro athlete and coach for over 30 years, I’d agree with your points. Coaches shorten the learning span and an experienced coach/mentor is priceless. Also, it’s key not to take yourself to seriously, the EGO can be a persons down fall…lighten up and laugh often. Appreciate you!

    TCOY = Take Care of You

  2. Tom Mattern says:

    I really enjoyed the similarities you pointed out between Bolt and Business. I am continually trying to remind myself to cut out unnecessary steps in what ever it is I am doing. Three steps isn’t much, but it IS nearly 7%! That is a lot!

  3. Lucy and Tom – thanks for the comments, success comes in many forms and although I wouldn’t want to duplicate Bolt’s persona…you can’t argue with his success!


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