It’s Not How You Start That Counts, It’s How You Finish

Nov 02, 2018 1 Min Read
finish line, how you finish



On 16 August 2009, the footspeed record was set during the World Championships in Berlin, Germany. Measured between the 60 and 80-metre point during the 100m sprint, Usain Bolt was clocked running at a staggering 44.7 km/h.

His average, over the course of the 9.58 seconds he took to win the race, was a slower 37.58 km/h. Compare that to the average running speed of a man (approx. 13 km/h), and the ‘Lightning Bolt’ is still almost three times as fast.

The reason I wanted to pay particular attention to Bolt’s speed is because, throughout his career, he’s not been the quickest starter off the blocks. As the man puts it himself:

There are better starters than me, but I’m a strong finisher.

As you can see from the 100m race in Berlin – where he smashed the World Record ‒ the runners to the left of Bolt all got off the blocks quicker than the Jamaican.

However, within a few seconds, he leaves the whole field for dust as he strides towards a glorious historical moment.

In fact, in his prime, Bolt was so fast that he could actually be seen slowing down before the finish line and still be able to win comfortably.

At the time, some critics believed that this was a show of arrogance. In reality, he was a man who knew his capabilities and let his performance speak for itself.

20 years of hardship for 2 minutes of success 

I know what I can do, so I never doubt myself.

The belief that the ‘fastest man alive’ carried with him was, and still is a huge factor in how he works towards his goals.

During his running career, his achievements included being an 11-time world champion, breaking two World Records in 2009 (in the 100m and 200m races), and winning nine gold medals as a champion at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games.

His achievements are immensely impressive from any perspective. However, when we take a look at his dominance over the three Olympic Games spanning almost a decade, Bolt’s amazing victories took less than two minutes to achieve. His approximate running time was 115 seconds in total across all three Olympics.

In that time, he:

  • won 9 Gold medals
  • Made more than US$1 million PER SECOND that he ran (approximately US$120m)
  • Smashed the World Record
  • Became an inspiration to millions around the world

Sounds easy, right? Running for two minutes and claiming the glory? Not according to Bolt, who offered this insight into what it takes to be a winner:

“I think a lot of people, they see you run and they say, ‘Ah, it looks so easy, looks effortless.’ But before it gets to that point, it’s hard; it’s hard work. It’s day-in, day-out sacrifice. Just DYING this time when you run and you just want to stop, you want to give up, you just want to go home.”

Usain Bolt wasn’t born great. He was born with the potential for greatness. He spent 20 years working to become the running machine we all know and respect.

That’s two decades of blood, sweat, and tears to produce two minutes of life-changing brilliance.

He might have been given some God-given talents… but this is the case for all of us. The difference between those who succeed in fulfilling their dreams and those who don’t, lies in making the commitment to make the most out of what we’ve been given.

Are fear and worry holding you back? 

For many people, their limiting beliefs and fears hold them back. They’re worried that they’ll fail, not realising that failure is the nourishment that allows success to grow.

People fear being judged by others because they’re not good enough, not realising that those who criticise the loudest are the ones most often afraid to try.

It’s the easiest thing in the world not to try, and criticising is easy from the safety of the comfort zone.

Usain Bolt, like everyone, had his fair share of critics – but he never allowed anyone’s opinion to drown out the noise of his self-belief, nor did he worry about how things might turn out. He simply put everything he had into his passion and gave his best in the moments that demanded it.

Worrying gets you nowhere. If you turn up worrying about how you’re going to perform, you’ve already lost. Train hard, turn up, run your best and the rest will take care of itself.

No shortcuts to success 

To be the best we can be, to realise the big goals that we’ve set for ourselves takes nothing less than our absolute commitment to put our potential ahead of our fears, and to listen to the inner voice that says, “Actually, there’s nothing you can’t do once you set your mind to it.”

Imagine what you could achieve if you decided to commit wholeheartedly to realising your potential.

All the greats of history – across all fields – had to begin somewhere. All it takes is the decision to begin. The rest is just belief and perseverance.

Easy is not an option. No days off. Never quit. Be fearless. Talent, you have naturally… skill is only developed by hours and hours of work.

When I’m asked, “Why is it that some people succeed and others don’t?” I usually reply, “Because those who succeed keep trying, no matter what: they always find a way.”

We get out of life whatever we’re willing to give of ourselves.

There are countless stories of people who grew up impoverished and had to overcome all sorts of hardship (see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi) before making their dreams a reality.

While it’s easy to see these as ‘overnight successes,’ getting to the top of any career – sports or otherwise – requires the dedication and commitment that most people don’t want to give.

Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. Time, effort, sacrifice, and sweat. How will you pay for your goals?

Dreams come at a cost. Are you willing to fight for yours?

Everyone dreams ‒ it’s a natural part of being human. But how much do we really give to those dreams?

How willing are we to get knocked down five times and get back up the sixth time? How many of us look at the obstacles in our way and still refuse to take “No” for an answer, with the realisation that we are in control of our destinies and not our setbacks?

How many of us ignore the naysayers, the critics, those who say it can’t be done, and keep pushing on until it gets done?

How often do we worry about the words of others who can’t see our vision, let alone understand why we desire to give so much to it?

When we set out to achieve our goals, the only battle worth fighting is between ourselves and whatever lies in our way along the path to success.

While we should be respectful to people who point out the obstacles in our way as we strive towards our goals, we should also keep pushing on regardless with the advice of the ‘Lightning Bolt’ at the forefront of our minds: Kill them with success and bury them with a smile.”


Prefer an e-mag reading experience? This article is also available in our 3rd November, 2018 digital issue. Access our digital issues here.

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Roshan is the Founder and “Kuli” of the Leaderonomics Group of companies. He believes that everyone can be a leader and "make a dent in the universe," in their own special ways. He is featured on TV, radio and numerous publications sharing the Science of Building Leaders and on leadership development. Follow him at


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