Reframing your thinking — the Olympics mindset

With the Olympic Games having come to a close, I’ve drawn so much inspiration from this global sporting event over the past two weeks.

The idea that you can keep trying at something and no matter how many times you fail, if you have the courage (and stamina) to get back up, you just might succeed.

I’m referring most specifically to the women’s pole vault results at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

To see America’s Katie Nageotte win gold after failing her first two attempts, being nearly knocked out of the competition, but getting back up again is a story that really moved me.

“I feel like this competition was kind of a good representation of my year so far,” Nageotte said, who had to overcome a COVID infection, all nine of her poles breaking and food poisoning in the weeks and months leading up to the Tokyo Games.

“And then there was just this upward trajectory,” Nageotte said.

She’s just one example of the awe-inspiring resilience that these global athletes are putting on display every single day.

Then there’s the story of Australian canoeing legend Jess Fox, who won her first Olympic gold medal in the women’s C1 slalom after fixing her broken kayak with a condom and vomiting right before her race.

Instead of letting these incidents deter her or being overcome with fear that she wasn’t feeling well, she opted instead to mentally tell herself, “OK, my body’s ready, that’s just my body telling me to get ready for something big,” … and then, she went on to win the gold medal.

I mean, if that’s not a powerful example of “reframing your thinking” to make amazing things happen, I don’t know what is! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying for one second that any feat (let alone an Olympic medal-worthy one) is as simple as “positive thinking”! However, performing at the highest level of your endeavors (whatever they may be), is undoubtedly a mental game.

If we look beyond the final scores of the global superstars at this year’s Olympics, there is so much we can learn.

For me, the first and foremost lesson is that training your mind, especially when you feel like the odds are against you (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t felt like that during one time or another during this pandemic?) can be a hugely powerful thing.

But that alone does not bring success. Oprah says, “Luck = preparation + opportunity” and I’m a true believer in that!

Olympic champion Jess Fox had been striving for this gold medal moment since her first Games back in 2012 and dreaming of it for probably a lot longer. For all the athletes competing at the Olympics, there’s a lot of training, sacrifice, hard-work and commitment (not to mention, blood, sweat and tears) that takes places over several years — sometimes decades — that brings them within close reach of their dreams.

And yet, only a select few will succeed in winning a medal.

Many will have to walk away, re-evaluate their goals and decide whether to keep going and pin their hopes and dreams on the next Olympic Games, or if they should simply give up.

How many of us apply that Olympic medal-winning mindset to our daily lives? Or our work lives?

How often have you picked yourself up after a professional or personal setback, brushed off your fears and picked up that (figuratively speaking) pole vault to leap over that seemingly sky-high hurdle?

I love stories of great resilience, and they don’t always have to be Olympic-size achievements.

It can be something as simple as having the will to get out of bed, take a shower and face another day with optimism after prolonged periods of unemployment (which so many of us have experienced during the pandemic).

Or perhaps, having the wisdom to stop, re-evaluate your life / goals / priorities and redirect yourself into other pursuits. Success comes in different ways, shapes and forms, and like Jess Fox says, it’s all about “reframing” your thinking “and putting it into a positive.”

So, what’s your story? Feel free to share it below.

5 thoughts on “Reframing your thinking — the Olympics mindset

  1. Great article and my thoughts on this are that sport and military/police training (all things that I’ve done, been good at and enjoyed) are HUGE when it comes to mindset and resilience. I have also taken what I’ve learned from these spells in my life and applied it to other jobs and personal life.

    The fact that tv shows like SAS Australia are so popular is because I think we all have this in us, we tell ourselves “I could do that” etc and when we discipline ourselves it also helps push ourselves.

    I’m one who loves competition and hates to lose but have done several times and it pushes me to do better next time. I personally like schools giving out participation medals but I do not like the “everyone’s a winner” or we don’t keep score.. To me this isn’t setting up our children for the real world. Just my thoughts!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Martin. It’s super interesting to hear about the type of training you’ve done and how it’s helped you in your life. I do agree that we all have it in us, the possibility to conquer the “I can do this” mindset but it’s about training ourselves to lean on that when times get tough. Appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and leaving your comments here. Thank you 🙂

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  2. Love your writing Del.

    Depression had me in a dark corner in 2019 after a ling recovery from injury rewuiring spunal surgery.

    Mental health clinics then leaving a controlling partner I have since blossomed.
    I have energy for me and can see things more clearly AND I feel again.

    I’m starting a small business enrolled in the Mia Freedman LadyStartup course and am flying. I feel everything once again. I’m coping with disappointment and the highs too.
    I love the story.
    Thank you for sharing

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  3. Very well written Del … We need to laud the achievements of all Olympians not only the ones who won but everyone who reached that level.
    I am sure everyone of us must have a story of resilience and reframing I guess .that’s life and it’s ups and downs. While we mere mortals haven’t achieved any Olympic sized achievements as you said …. but I think all of us migrants who uproot ourselves from our country of origin and try to set up a ‘new life’ in a foreign country … although it’s by choice ….but still it takes a lot of courage and resilience in initial years and going many hoops before we finally ‘win the medal’ ie settle down in a new country and a new environment.

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    1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Sanjay! That’s so well said. The resilience that migrants have to illustrate in order to survive and thrive in a foreign country, far from their own home and culture is a worthy achievement. It sounds like this is something you/your family have experienced and for that, I commend you. Well done for having the courage and resilience to persevere and achieve your goals!

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