Mo Farah is a Somali-born British long distance runner, a legend of the 2012 London Summer Olympics who won two gold medals for 5,000 and 10,000 metres.

No doubt, his example can inspire many young people to take up sports and follow in his footsteps, becoming a new generation of top-class British athletes. There’s also a lot one can learn from him. Here are some lessons from Mo Farah’s school of success that all students can benefit from on their way to getting a first, becoming employable and making the most of their university experience.

1. It does not matter where you come from – you can become great

Mo Farrah came to the UK from Somalia when he was eight. Back then, he spoke almost no English and had very little idea of what life in this country was going to be like. Nevertheless, the UK is known to be the country of fair-play – and it was for him. He made effort, and he was rewarded.

Same goes to you, students. It does not matter what your social background is, what school you went to, where you come from… not even what university you are attending or what degree you are doing. What matters is your passion for what you are doing, your perseverance and willingness to take things seriously and give it your all.

2. If you have a talent, cultivate it

Mo was naturally a good runner – and this was spotted by his PE teacher. He had at least one talent and he started developing it from an early age. The same goes for your university experience: spend some time thinking what you’re good at and then do everything to develop that skill.

Deciding what you’re good at is not that difficult. Sometimes, though, you might not be so good at something but want to become good. This is also a great start. Not all people are born to be great runners – but many train hard and can still achieve pretty impressive results. Even Mo would not be as good as he is now without intensive training. So choose a talent to develop – and work your butt off polishing your skills.

3. You can’t do it alone. Find someone experienced

Young Mo needed his coach to start training. Yes, his natural abilities helped, but there were many things he didn’t know.

The same applies to you and your learning process. When you want to become good at something – be it exam writing, teamwork, psychometric tests, CV writing or public speaking – you need to practice it a lot, but you also need to consult someone more experienced.

Hang around with experienced people (for example, start by making connections on LinkedIn). Read books. Ask questions. Learn.

4. No success without hard work

Mo Farrah runs 120 miles per week (that’s more than 17 miles or almost 28 kilometres per day on average!), doing a mile in 5.4 minutes. Moreover, he is doing it in a specialised training centre, on an underwater treadmill to minimise the risk of injury. He works with his conditioning coach four times a week, sees a sports psychologist and has his technique analysed by a sports biomechanist.

As you can see, his working out regime is tough – and he always consults a team of professionals that check his progress. The same applies to your work as a student. You must toughen up and plough on no matter how much you feel like procrastinating. Feedback from lecturers is very important as well. If possible, find a role model and try to follow their advice and achieve good results. This is the way to gold.

Did you like this article? Is there anything else you would like to add? Do you know any other Olympic athletes that could set a great example of success? Feel free to share in the comments!

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