Sports is a world of its own. It brings out the ‘human’ in us — the unquenchable drive, high aspirations to do better than the best, competitive spirit, constant need for practice, innovation, risks, and so much more. It’s a tough world layered with its own share of insecurities and politics.
Ron Howard’s 2013 biographical sport drama film, Rush, depicts the story of rivalry between two distinct iconic personalities and their contrasting approaches to racing & life itself - Austrian racer, Niki Lauda and British racer, James Hunt.
Niki Lauda was a name I’ve fondly heard growing up grazing through any motor sport on the tube. Three-time F1 World Champion, Niki Lauda was a household name, just like how Hamilton, Button, Vettel or Schumacher are like now.
Here are some key takeaways from Lauda’s life which seem important for any millennial — those into sports and even those who aren’t:
1. BE DISCIPLINED AND ENJOY IT
Being disciplined is easier said than done. And still, it’s what makes all the difference. Racing was everything to Lauda – and to emerge on the top, he had to be in control of himself.
Create and religiously follow a healthy schedule that allows you to repeatedly dedicate time and energy to accomplish your goals. This, by no way, means that you need to forsake fun. Even though Lauda did forsake it, racers like Hunt, who lived each day like their last, reminded him of it.
2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE BIG INVESTMENTS IN YOURSELF
Lauda’s father was a rich man who didn’t support him. So, how did he get trained to become a part of the Formula 1 race? He went all out and got himself a bank loan, leading him into his first Formula 1 race even though he was Formula 2 driver at the time. Don’t be afraid to bet big on yourself and your abilities.
3. ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF WHAT’S THE BIG PICTURE
Don’t lose sight of your goals. In today’s time and age, it’s too easy to lose sight of what you genuinely want to accomplish. One could get distracted fulfilling smaller, unrelated goals. Invest your time in what matters to you. More importantly and regretfully, know that sometimes you may have to lose to win.
4. PUSH LIMITS AND TAKE CALCULATED RISKS
Niki Lauda encountered a ruthless crash in 1976 at the German Grand Prix — but that didn’t stop him from getting back on the racetrack and owning the World Champion title – not once, but thrice. Lauda’s formula of calculated risk is something we can benefit from — anything with more than 20% risk of death in racing is not acceptable. When he didn’t pay heed to this percentage approach, he suffered. There’s no harm in reconsidering decisions; stick to your gut and your values. Be cautious- it is important and often the most difficult to know when to draw the line, however tempting.
5. FOCUS & LOTS OF PRACTICE
Ask anyone who’s successful and they will tell you they’ve gone through all sorts of challenges to get where they are at. What made them hurdle past those obstacles, where nothing, but focus and practice. And these two qualities should never be underestimated.
6. DON’T CARE WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU
Never care about what people think of you, especially when you know what you’re doing. It will only create confusion, slow things down, or distract you from the main goal. You do not have to get everyone to like you. Be confident in who you are – don’t depend on anyone around you for self-assertion or gratification.
On the other hand, if you want to get things done — be it to influence or persuade, being liked matters. Lauda learns this the hard way when he tries to convince other racers to cancel the German Grand Prix (1976) due to horrible rain. Even though he was right, few agreed with him because of his brash and unfriendly manner. The room was swayed by his likeable rival, James Hunt, leading to a disaster.
7. DON’T LET VICTORY GET INTO YOUR HEAD
Lauda once believed ‘Happiness is your biggest enemy. It weakens you. It puts doubts in your mind. Suddenly, you have something to lose.’ At first, I agreed with this thought. But if you always think that happiness is your biggest enemy — then that is the biggest loss. There’s a massive difference in ‘deriving temporary satisfaction from your hard work’ and ‘being giddy with over-confidence’ —don’t let your wins and happiness streak boost your ego so much that it affects your performance. It will only hurt you.
8. RIVALS AREN’T A BAD THING
Having a rival pushes you to do things you thought you never could. Lauda never admits he was jealous or envious of Hunt’s wins; but he couldn’t stand them and made him want to beat him every time. Rivals remind you of your purpose, help you bulldoze through obstacles and are brutally honest when you’re bad or great – you eventually learn to respect them.
Moreover, Lauda says, ‘a wise man can learn more from his enemies than a fool from his friends.’
About the author: Megna Kalvani
Megna Kalvani is a Senior Manager for Global Learning & Student Life at SP Jain School ofGlobal Management, Dubai Campus. Megna has completed her Masters in International Journalism from University of Central Lancashire, UK and has over 7 years’ experience in Education, Journalism, Social Media Marketing, & Community Engagement sectors. She has headed and organised events like TEDx University events, International Research Conferences & Symposiums, managed student clubs as well as formed partnerships with the industry & international organisations like Dubai International Film Festival and Dubai Lynx Festival of Creativity, among others.