Sunday, 11 May 2008

Success Strategy - a Lesson From the Turkish Grand Prix - Build on Your Strengths

Lewis Hamilton made a critical decision in yesterday's pole position shootout.

He later said he regretted his decision but I believe that he was being too hard on himself and that his comment was a result of him being bitterly disappointed at not gaining P1.

During Q3, Hamilton made the decision to switch to the harder Bridgestone tyre. At first, I was flabbergasted and the commentators too expressed their surprise. You see the softer Bridgestone tyres were allowing for the faster times and in Formula 1 every 1/100th of a second counts.

Plus I had flashbacks to last season to the race in China when Hamilton was left languishing on the track with badly degrading tyres which were obviously causing him to lose speed. It was said his engineers were indecisive about which type tyre to switch to.

At the time I wanted to scream at them "Any - so long as they're new!" For indeed, Hamilton outcome for that particular race would surely been a more positive one had he simply been given fresh tyres when he needed them. It was a mistake which, even today, I cannot fathom.

So back to yesterday. Despite Hamilton sentiments I don't think he made a mistake. When I understood the rationale for his decision I was impressed by his courage.

Bridgestone's medium compound tyres may have been producing the faster times but Hamilton had been struggling a little with the softer tyres. His Q2 time, by his own admission, was terrible. So for Q3, Hamilton opted for the harder tyre.

He completed the lap in a time of 1m 27.923s - a time good enough to earn him P3 and not the coveted P1 position. He was outclassed by his teammate Heikki Kovalainen (1m 27.808s - P2) and Ferrari's Felipe Massa (1m 27.617s - P1).

This is Massa's third consecutive pole position at this circuit and, on the previous two occasions, he has also gone on to capitalize on his pole position and win at the Istanbul race track. He seems to have a natural affinity for and feels very much at home here. In fact, he boldly stated:

"I own this race track."

Now, while Hamilton may have been beaten by two drivers you have to take into account the drivers he beat to get to the second line of the grid, drivers which include the reigning world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, and this season's much-improved Robert Kubica.

Who knows what may have happened had Hamilton stuck with the softer tyres? But the truth is that Hamilton drove the hell out of those harder tyres. He identified and played to his strengths.

This is something that, in the quest to achieve our own goals, we often ignore. We focus on and try to improve our weaknesses. The latter is important to a degree because some weaknesses, if not corrected, will definitely be your Achilles' heel but generally you will achieve greater success if you focus on and build your strengths.

So what are your strengths? What are you really good at? How are you maximizing your strengths?

Remember, where possible to achieve maximum success let others take care of those tasks that fall into the category of your weaknesses. Build on and play to your strengths.

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