My very good friend Todd Herman, author of The Alter Ego Effect and expert in mental toughness, shared an email yesterday that is really important to think through …

He was reflecting on his 21 years working with athletes at Olympic Games and the fact that he has never seen more stress and anxiety in the athletes than at these 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

In a 24-hour period he has received 56 messages from athletes and coaches seeking help at the Olympics.  So what’s the cause?

He believes it’s the toxic nature of social media and hateful commentary.  His observation is that given that if some of the most mentally tough, focused and disciplined people on the planet are falling prey to ‘pressure’ … what about the average person?

I’ve just watched Australia’s Jessica Fox win gold in the C1 final.  Just two days earlier she got a bronze medal in the K1, which as the current world champion, she was expected to win.  She had to shake of the anguish and disappointment to get back in the water and paddle again at her highest standard.

Her event is all about being able to paddle strongly upstream when the current is running against you and then paddle quickly downstream when it is flowing in your direction.  

It’s hard enough as it is to paddle in both directions in life.  The last thing anyone needs is the insensitive judgement of others, who are not sharing the burden of the challenge with you.

If we take any lessons from the Olympics, it must surely be that just showing up is a win.

The same is true in business or the pursuit of any significant achievement. Showing up, entering the playing field and giving everything you have in the moment, win or lose, is already so much more than so many others are willing to do.

Remember, sometimes you have to paddle hard when life is running upstream and at other times you can pick up speed as you paddle downstream …

Importantly, maintain your composure and grace all the way through and congratulate yourself that you just kept paddling.  Be kind to yourself and along the way and encourage those who are paddling alongside you.

Think about your business right now, what do you need to pat yourself on the back for and who is on the journey with you that you should offer a little dose of encouragement to?