Michael Schumacher’s Secret of Success in the Fast Lane

If you want to be successful, learn from people who have reached great success before you: this is more efficient than going by trial and error. And there’s always a lot to learn from a successful person.

Michael Schumacher made his Formula One debut in 1991 and dominated the Grand Prix for over two decades. He is a seven-time F1 World Champion and he holds numerous F1’s driver records, including fastest laps, races won and the record number of consecutive podium finishes.

Statistically, Schumi is the greatest driver in the history of F1.

Thousands of articles were written explaining his miraculous success. Of course, he was driving very nice cars and had a very capable support team. Those ‘secrets’ are always mentioned, alongside with his ‘sheer luck.’ Those explanations were far from convincing, as all top F1 drivers have access to the best technology and support, while “sheer luck,” I would argue, is likely a result of Schumacher’s uniqueness, not the cause of his success.

Perhaps, F1 aficionados are more technically inclined, that’s why the closest they get to the real secret of Michael Schumacher is “unbelievable talent” — sliding right away to juicy details of his incredible technique of left foot braking, and his preference for oversteering — both are purely technical skills.

His real secret was revealed when he was finally cornered by a team of scientists. They clamped dozens of sensors to his body and measured everything from heartbeat rate to eye movements while he was driving his car along a Grand Prix circuit. Schumi’s racing tactics was close to that of a guided missile: after turning into a corner, he would home on the next turn-in point, set the direction and acceleration — and immediately switch his brain over to the next straight, which will appear behind the corner, getting his car, his mind and his body ready for the next corner. This approach would save him milliseconds on every corner and help to avoid mistakes, thus providing even more significant time savings.

Here’s the life lesson from Michael Schumacher:

Always stay focused on the goal and think ahead of the curve.

So what else is new? Every good driver knows this. Don’t they all walk the track before the race?

They do. But most probably they do it differently, and hence — get different results.

As is often the case, we all know the right way to do things but tend to focus on the wrong goal, even multiple wrong goals, and then find excuses not to do the right thing.

  • Do we always have a clear goal to focus on? No, we say that we are Agile.
  • Do we always plan before we do things? No, we do not have time, we are busy, and we know what to do regardless.
  • Do we always have proper risk management? No, because we know all the risks.

Sometimes, in the back of our mind, we realize that being focused and thinking ahead may be a good strategy although it takes some character.

Stick to this strategy, and “sheer luck” will inevitably follow you.