When facing into a high-pressure situation, whether you’re an individual, a team, or playing a support role, it can be exceptionally difficult to know exactly where and how to channel your time and energy to achieve maximum impact. It’s a concern that is as relevant for the Olympics as it is for starting a business, closing a large sale, winning the AFL Grand Final, or even supporting your child during exams.
Getting this right is something that we focused on heavily in preparing for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, and particularly during Games time. As a team, we made a concerted effort to be targeted and effective, by continually asking ourselves questions like:
What is most important and will create greatest positive impact?
What is imperative to success for each key deliverable/situation?
What decisions need to be made, by who and by when?
How do we best use limited resources around key deliverables/situations?
What support do our colleagues in the trenches need?
What is the simplest way to look at this deliverable/situation?
What can I do (or where can I be) that will create the greatest gains right now?
What do we need to be ready for, and to what standard?
What is distracting us or slowing us down, that we need to address/cut/stop?
One key factor we determined would have enormous positive impact for our team, was the environment – both the front of house (athletes/coaches) environment and back of house (the team behind the team).
Science tells us that when humans feel safe, capable, prepared and loved, they can find more within themselves and can perform at a higher level… and so creating the right environment for our team became one of our biggest focus items.
The goal: create and maintain an atmosphere in our Australian Olympic Village Spaces inside the Olympic Villages that was warm, calm, safe, predictable, special and unique while also being effective for high-performance sport preparation, training and recovery. In essence, a safe haven to live and work, within the enormity and uncertainty of the greater Olympic setting. A place where our athletes and coaches could take shelter from the intensity and pressure of daily Olympic demands (especially during a COVID Games), where they could relax, laugh, connect or disconnect, while being unconditionally supported and cared for.
A safe environment that brings out the best in people – regardless of whether it’s in the Olympic Village or any workplace – must be specifically created, maintained and invested in by everyone to be successful. And once you have it, people will do everything to protect and respect it.
Getting our environment right for success, covered look and feel, food and beverages, uniforming, medical, transportation, administration and a VIP service attitude that needed to be maintained from start to finish. There were certainly some big block deliverables within that, and then other parts took a concerted and consistent effort, but no component was too big or small to get right once we knew it would deliver positive impact. For our athletes and coaches, these were serious game changers that provided competitive advantage, enabling them to thrive in a high-performance zone (unaware of the leg-work going on behind the scenes).
From warm living spaces with home touches to speciality nutritious food (always impeccably served), to imported puzzles and games used for mindful relaxation to ice baths and gyms, from separate zones to personalised transportation...our team did not need to rely on (or be exposed to) many uncontrollable elements happening at the Games. Our bubble was exactly what we envisioned it to be, and it was delivered through quality people committed to and focused on what really mattered. I can’t tell you how proud I am of every individual and our collective team, for bringing their best day after day – it was magic!
I can hand on heart say, that with clarity and targeted effort, we created an environment in Beijing that enabled our Olympians to flourish - to do what they do to the best of their abilities, to find courage, to feel safe and supported and to show up for themselves (and our country) when the world’s biggest sporting stage was calling them.
So thank you to all the remarkable humans on and off the field of play, that enabled our 2022 Australian Winter Olympic Team to be the best team ever - both on and off the scoreboard. I feel blessed to have shared this world class experience with you all, and to have watched each and every one of you shine!
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