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Inspired by David Coulthard's book "The Winning Formula - Leadership, Strategy, Motivation The F1 Way"


David Coulthard honed his skills in the world of Formula 1 motor racing. We think of F1 as a sport but in reality it is a most demanding business providing lessons from which other businesses, large and small, can benefit. It is a business that demands absolute commitment and dedication from everyone in the team if success is to be achieved.


Work Ethic – How Hard Do You Really Work?


Do you think that you have a strong work ethic and work hard? Well in F1 that’s just the starting point. You can’t simply pitch up at the track at the weekend and expect to win. It’s a 24/7 commitment and extends to all aspects of your life. That’s not just practising, maintenance and preparation during the week. It means no, what we might call a normal, social life. Weight is a critical factor in F1 racing and it applies to the drivers as well as components of the car. So strict diet and weight management is a must. How many “ordinary” businesses require that from their employees?


The F1 teams are in, as close as you can get, a world where you have equality of talent and skill competing on a level playing field the variable that separates the winners from the others is their work ethic. It is a world where maximum effort is a given. The winners never slack off for a moment.


Generally in the business world talents and skills are not evenly distributed and the playing field tends to be littered with obstacles. Even so, a high work ethic can make all the difference. Top tips for maintaining a higher then most work ethic gleaned from David Coulthard’s book include:


  • Learn to compartmentalise your work and keep it separate from your private life. Allow yourself time for recharging your batteries.


  • Every day, ask yourself: “Is there anything more I can be doing today?” My own favourite question is: “Is what I am about to do going to bring me closer to, or take me further away from, my goal?”


  • Don’t slack off when the going gets tough or scary.


  • Never stop looking for ways to make things happen. Don’t wait forever for someone to get back to you, call them, go and find them, whatever it takes to get things moving. Don’t miss an opportunity to ask: “Is there anything else I can do?”


  • Learn to recognise just how much influence you have over your own journey as opposed to waiting for other people to offer you opportunities.


  • F1 teams hold a technical debrief immediately after every race. This principle applies equally for one-man-bands as for teams or departments or organisations. Hold debriefing sessions and exhaustively analyse what has happened at every stage of a project or each week or each day, whatever is appropriate. 


  • Some form of continuous professional development is vital to staying ahead of the game. For physically demanding jobs like F1 this includes a fitness regime. For many occupations keeping up to date on product development or regulations is required. 


Finally, have fun. As Robert Townsend, CEO of Avis Car Rentals when their mantra was “We Try Harder”, famously said:


“If you’re not in business for fun or for profit, what the hell are you doing there?” 

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