Usain Bolt

Pack your strengths

No matter where you go, or what you do, remember to pack your strengths. There are things you do well, and there are things in which you excel – these are your strengths. Consider this scene from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

“’Play to your strengths.’ ‘I haven’t got any,’ said Harry, before he could stop himself. ‘Excuse me,’ growled Moody, ‘you’ve got strengths if I say you’ve got them. Think now. What are you best at?'”

Usain Bolt is the world’s fastest sprinter. He holds the record in the 100 meter and 200 meter races. When asked how he was able to win both of these races in three different Olympics, his response was “There are better starters than me but I’m a strong finisher.” Bolt knows his strengths and excels by using them.

A recent NY Times article discussed Usain Bolt’s remarkable speed and shared the results of a SMU study on the biomechanics of his sprinting. Here are a few of the facts reviewed:

Bolt is 6 feet 5 inches tall and can cover 100 meters in 41 strides were other sprinters need up to 48 strides. He is able to conserve energy with fewer strides which allows him to maintain a faster pace over the last 30 meters when all sprinters, including Bolt, are slowing down. This explains his comment on being a strong finisher.

The next fact is one that requires more discussion. According to the SMU study, “His right leg appears to strike the track with about 13 percent more peak force than his left leg. And with each stride, his left leg remains on the ground about 14 percent longer than his right leg. This runs counter to conventional wisdom, based on limited science, that an uneven stride tends to slow a runner down.”

How could the world’s fastest sprinter run in a method that is counter to that which drives top speed? In his autobiography, Usain Bolt shares that childhood scoliosis caused his right leg to be an inch shorter than his left. The scientists at SMU propose that Bolt developed his sprinting style – his strength – to compensate for the difference in leg length.

In the end, Usain Bolt is the world’s fastest sprinter because he uses his height, endurance and ability to adjust his stride to run faster than everyone he competes against.

Here are the three lessons we learn from Usain Bolt: Know how you excel, Practice how you excel, Repeat how you excel. This will lead you to your greatness.

No matter where you go, or what you do, remember to pack your strengths.

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