Resilience is a High Performance Skill
Updated: Jul 22, 2021
We're within days of the Opening Ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, and it's fair to say, that preparations and expectations for this Olympics are like no other.
We're seeing all sorts of challenges - athletes sadly testing positive for Covid before departure and then others getting off a Covid exposure plane and going straight into quarantine. Before athletes and teams even set foot in the village, they're facing setbacks...we may even see some athletes having to compete with no in-competition training opportunities at all. These 'out of your control' circumstances will continue to be a narrative of the Tokyo Olympics, despite the very best intentions and efforts of everyone involved in organising and delivering these unique Games.
In some sports, and for athletes of some nations, the impact of Covid will have severely impacted their preparations over the last 18mths, but on the other hand, Covid might actually level the playing field at the last minute, given what might go down at the Games! All the random changes, challenges and flow-on's from uncontrollable factors that will likely occur in Tokyo, will bring athletes to the start line (or not) in the most unexpected way. This could mean that the favourite is no longer in a position of advantage. Or that the least physically prepared athlete has had a very positive mental/emotional/logistical build up to their competition, or perhaps the reverse. This will be an anything could happen Games, and therefore every athlete needs to believe they are in with a chance. After all, no medals are given out until after the final is over.
Most athletes will have planned for this of course, but the proof will be in the pudding. Those who have done extensive scenario planning, who have mentally and emotionally prepared for the stress and uncertainty, and particularly those who are ready to conserve energy and maintain optimism when the hardest challenges arrive, will gain the upper hand. But you can't just know this... you have to embody it, do it, execute it and all with a deep sense of trust and self belief.
The Tokyo Olympics shows all of us, that despite all the planning and risk mitigation, there can be many things in life that knock us off course or stop us in our tracks. This is the world we live in right now, and sometimes something as simple as being in the wrong place at the wrong time will dramatically change how things might play out for us. What we can learn from our Olympic athletes though, is that it's how we respond to the most difficult circumstances that maters most! We can't go back in time and change things, but we can quickly accept our circumstances and then choose to focus on and manage what we can control - our mindset, behaviours and energy - to derive the best possible outcome given existing factors.
Of course the Olympics are usually a once in a lifetime high-stakes experience with few second chances, but the resilience skills our athletes will be using to perform at their best in Tokyo, are just what we all need to use too. For example, focusing on what we can control to move forward through hardship, reframing difficult situations instead of catastrophising, breathing and calming ourselves down when we feel under pressure, keeping things in perspective, leaning on support structures, getting enough rest and always having a Plan B!
You don't have to be an athlete to perform when it matters most, but in regularly practising your resilience, you will certainly be more ready to do so.
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