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Making innovation work for good. T:@inspirechilli

Thursday 6 June 2013

The Usain Bolt Moment

Usain Bolt – the fastest human on the planet, the lightening rod of athletics, and my favourite person to begin a presentation with these days. Why? Because the images of Bolt before he settles into the blocks on the running track, with his eyes fixed firm to the finish, epitomise what it means to be in the race  – focused and thinking ahead. Bolt is able to visualise the end goal of what he is trying to achieve in a way which reminds us all that we need to be as equally determined in our own lives. 

Every act we do is a race, a performance of some kind, something we can either choose to be part of and actively participate in, or something we just turn up to and drift along with. Bolt doesn’t arrive at the track wondering why he is there. He is prepared; he knows what he wants to achieve; and he has perfected a process of putting himself in the zone where he can maximise his talents.  Too often we just find ourselves in things and learn to get by rather than maximising our experiences.  As I always remind my workshop participants, Bolt doesn’t have his mobile phone on hand in case it rings during a race, he is completely focused on the moment; nor is he wondering what he watched on TV last night or what’s going to be for lunch afterwards; he is just thinking about the finishing line. 

The ‘Usain Bolt moment’ is the wake up call to the fact that we are in the race, that we have the opportunity and responsibility to run the race, and that we have the ability to focus on the goal that we want to achieve ahead at the finishing line.  It’s no wonder the first letters of his name spells ‘Us’. The ‘Usain Bolt moment’ is the very essence of what it means to be really alive.

The Foyer Federation’s innovative new Healthy Conversations programme is all about paying closer attention to the things we need to build what Aristotle called ‘the good life’.  Equipping young people with the know-how to flourish and nurture their health.  Or in other words, the Usain Bolt moment. Aristotle and Bolt might come from vastly different worlds and disciplines, but they share a common approach: that the good life, that what is positive to us, is something we need to create and nurture through ourselves. Bolt doesn’t focus on losing the race when he is preparing to go into the blocks at the start; he isn’t lost in thinking about all the problems he needs to deal with; he has a tunnel vision on what he can achieve. The track ahead is his good life. We need to perfect that same lightening rod concentration, attuned to the opportunities in whatever race we are in, to grow our health and expand our lives.

Bolt is not shy at celebrating  either.  He enjoys the recognition from crossing the 'threshold' of the finish line. He knows how to be the centre of the conversation. So, at the end of the day, why not ask yourself: what was my Usain Bolt moment? And how might I make another one tomorrow?  Create a conversation about yourself. Celebrate whatever threshold you have crossed during the day. Just don’t forget to do the pose and ask someone for a medal…

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