Lessons you can learn from F1

July 27, 2009

I am a huge F1 fan. I am also a father. Here are some lessons I teach my daughters using Formula 1 as an example and the drivers/leaders who teach them.

1. “Never give up” Even if you are a lap down, with a flat tire and its raining. Never give up because you never know what might happen. If you give up you will never improve or win and people will flee you like the plague. A good example in F1 is Fernando Alonso. Two time world champion, moved to the best team on the grid, had a falling out with the team, went back to his former team which had fallen on hard times. It didn’t matter. He put his head down and worked, he raced that horrible car race after race for no points. Then when all seemed lost it rained, the leaders had problems and there was Fernando leading and winning the race. And guess what he did in the next race? Win again. In a car that no one though could win, he did it twice.

2. “Be nice” Even if people are mean to you. Be nice. No one likes a mean person and when you need help or that little bit extra no one will help you. But if you are nice, people want to help you. They want to see you do well. Jensen Button has been languishing at the back for years. A massive talent hobbled by mediocre machinery. He was always nice in the extreme to everyone. Team, team mate, former team, media, the whole lot. His career was almost over when this year he finally got a good car. The result? Six wins and leading the championship. And guess what? Everyone is very happy for him. When things are tight and when it could go either way, they give him the break, the extra room, the helping hand. If it was another driver, it would end in tears and no one would feel sad. Even when they have every right to be mad at him, they aren’t because they know he is nice and would not hurt them on purpose.

3. “Learn” Talent can only get you so far. Felipe Massa arrived in F1 and couldn’t even drive in a straight line. He had awesome reflexes and car control but he moved the car around too much. He didn’t understand aerodynamics. So he took stock, realized he could only go so far on raw speed and decided he had to learn. He learned from the best, Michael Schumacher. Micheal, who usually kept everything close to his chest sat him down and taught him and Massa learnt. Last year he lost the World Championship by just 1 point. He is now smooth, he understand what he needs to do to the car to get the result and he can fall back on talent when he needs to. He learned.
*Massa was badly injured in the last race by a piece of debris on the track. I wish him a fast speedy recovery.

4. Work hard. Work hard all the time. No one gets anywhere by waiting for things to come to them. You have to be smart and talented yes, but that only gets you so far. But by working at it you make your luck and your success. Michael Schumacher came to Ferrari when it was in disarray. They had the ingredients for winning in the pot but no one was stirring it. He stepped up and led by example. He sat in the car and pounded around the test track until the sun set. Then he went into meetings to find answers. He worked hard and smart. The teamed rallied around him and they put in as much effort as he did. The result was 5 World Championships.

5. Be calm. Nothing is solved by running around in a panic. If fact that usually makes things worse. Take a step back, take a deep breath, take another look. You will be surprised what you will find. People are attracted to people who are calm in a storm. Ross Brawn is the epitome of calm and a reasoned approach. He left Ferrari after their success to take a break only to rejoin F1 to take over Honda. His first year you could see the difference in the team. Less mistakes, more progress, smiling faces. Even when Honda pulled out he stayed calm, got financing and took over the team. They are currently leading the world Championship. Its natural to panic, but you don’t need to give into it. Chill out, keep a clear head and the solution will come to you.

So there are 5 lessons from 5 people in F1. I’m sure you could find examples outside of the sport but F1 is a high stakes game where only the best survive and they can teach everyone a lot, including my girls.

One comment

  1. You know what's funny?This works. I may not be an F1 driver, and neither are you, but we've done pretty well being nice guys, eh?We are fortunate to have wonderful families and great friends.

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