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5 life lessons from Ayrton Senna

We reflect on the Brazilian's wise words 28 years after his untimely death

Few drivers are as quotable as Ayrton Senna, whose words are just as captivating as his on-track heroics. At times, he spoke with a wisdom that almost belied his age and we’ve tried to decode some of his best musings.

1 | "With regard to performance, commitment, effort, dedication, there is no middle ground. Or you do something very well or not at all."

There’s something almost Yoda-esque about this quote from Ayrton: you know, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’ Whether Ayrton actually watched Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back we’re not entirely sure, but there’s arguably nothing more meaningful than giving you’re all to something. Granted, doing so won’t guarantee you success but it will increase your chances, and even if you don’t pull it off, it doesn’t matter; what matters is that you gave it everything you’ve got.

And, if you do fall short…

2 | "Many times through a mistake due to your own personality or your own character or interference that you get along the way then you learn, and the main thing is to make sure you learn from your mistakes and get better."

Do not fear failure. When we push ourselves to reach new heights or set out to achieve something, we don’t always get there – sometimes we come unstuck. However, that’s no reason to get disheartened. Losing is as much a part of life as winning, but we learn more from our losses. We all make mistakes and it’s what we learn from them, how we bounce back, that shapes the journey to achieving our ambitions.

3 | "As soon as you touch this limit, something happens, and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high."

We all have limits, but none of us truly know how far we can go or what we’re capable of. The key is never to be afraid to go that little bit further, to keep pushing. As Ayrton suggests, you never know how high you might fly.

4 | "There is no merit from a person, but from a team."

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts and you should never forget the power of the team. Teamwork really does make the dream work and Ayrton knew it. Even when you’re as talented as him, to achieve greatness you need the help of others and that applies to all walks of life; you will have a greater chance of succeeding at whatever you do, at making a difference, when you do it with the help of others.

5 | "The main thing is to be yourself and not allow people to disturb you to be different because they want you to be different. You gotta be yourself."

Brilliance and achievement are all well and good, but bravery is what really wins hearts and minds. Ayrton had it in spades and demonstrated it behind the wheel on countless occasions. But you don’t need to drive a 200-mph rocket ship and seemingly defy the laws of physics to be brave. There’s arguably nothing braver than just being yourself, especially in a world that seems hellbent on bombarding us with messages of how we should look and what we should say, do, think and even feel. Be brave: be true to yourself and you won’t go far wrong.

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