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“Success is not about standing on the podium spraying champagne”: F1 legend David Coulthard’s six-point guide to career success

David with several aspiring bankers/ drivers

David with several aspiring bankers/ drivers

With the 2012 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix revving up this weekend, we thought it entirely appropriate to share former F1 driver David Coulthard’s strategies for career success.

The 41-year-old, who won 13 Grand Prix races over 15 seasons, addressed Singapore undergraduates during a UBS F1-themed campus networking event yesterday. Here are the highlights:

1) Make the best of every situation

“The great driver for me – the absolute benchmark, is Fernando Alonso. His consistency, his ability to get the maximum out of the whole Grand Prix situation: I think that is absolutely a key element. Not many people can win when the chips are stacked against them and that’s when you have to dig deep and try to use your talent and strategy, whether it’s on the race track or in the boardroom. “

2) Losing isn’t the end of the world

“You never throw in the towel, never, because if you do, you’ll always be known as a quitter. You really have to have the mental resilience. You can’t win every time and if you can’t handle occasionally not winning, then you’ll never survive.”

3) Success isn’t just about you

“I loved being a Grand Prix driver and being a part of a team with intelligent and creative designers and hardworking people who had skills that I didn’t. I was able to tap onto their skills and they were able to tap onto my skills, and as a team we had success together.”

4) Win on your own terms

“Even if your passion is something which is seen as boring to the outside world, if you are really good at it, do that, because chances are that would be your success in life. Success is not about standing on the podium spraying champagne, success could be just getting through another day; it’s down to the individual. “

5) Look ahead

“I recognised in 2008 that I wasn’t getting better so I took the decision [to retire from racing] myself. I always plan for the future. You’ve got to be very focused on where you want to be in your own particular journey, even if it’s not always in this particular industry – the steps you need to take to get to your goal and have an eye on the future.”

6) It doesn’t matter where you come from

“I grew up in a small village in Scotland, a farming village, 300 people…At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you come from, or your religious beliefs, it comes down to trying to achieve your goals.”

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