In an ever-changing world with ever-evolving challenges, it’s become quite clear that resiliency is key. To be successful in business, or any profession, you need the ability to innovate, react, evolve and adapt. That’s why it’s more important than ever to focus on the strategies that will help us stay positive so we can set ourselves up for success in 2022 and beyond. And who better to speak to resiliency than Andre De Grasse, Canadian Sprinter, 10x Olympic and World Championship Medalist.
As an Olympic champion, De Grasse knows a thing or two about the mental preparedness it takes to face life’s greatest challenges. His gold medal finish in the 2020 Olympics was the first Canadian Olympic gold in track in 25 years and the first Canadian Olympic gold in the 200 metre in 93 years.
Sylvain Brisebois, Head of National Sales Strategy for BMO Private Wealth sat down with De Grasse and Dr. Ryan Todd, psychiatrist and CEO of headversity, a workplace mental health platform that helps organizations build resilience, to talk about the importance of having a positive outlook and practicing mindfulness when setting out to achieve our goals.
Be Mindful, Reduce Stress
Mindfulness, or the practice of focusing on the present, is a growing trend in successful businesses. Not only does it lead to decreased levels of stress and increased productivity, it allows teams to become better equipped for the challenges of today. As a performer on the world’s stage, being mindful and practicing skills around hardiness, like optimism and bravery, is something De Grasse knows all too well. And if we apply those practices to business, we can change the culture of organizations for the better.
“For me it takes a lot of preparation. You have the physical part, and you go into training every single day, but when it all comes down to it, most of it is mental preparation,” De Grasse said. “At the last Olympics in Rio, I had to adjust to the noise and distractions in all my surroundings, so that's where all my mental toughness had to come into play. I have to make sure that I'm focused on getting my direction from my coaches, my therapist, and doing all the necessary things to be ready for that moment because the race is only 10 or 20 seconds.”
Set Realistic Goals
One of the biggest challenges in business is the feeling that everything needs to be done at the same time. From finding new clients and keeping the current ones happy, to managing finances, and streamlining processes to keeping employees motivated and engaged—it can all feel incredibly overwhelming at times. The key is to set goals, starting with smaller ones and building up from there.
“I tell myself; I know the longer-term goal is that I want to be an Olympic world champion, I want to be able to break records, but I know there are smaller steps and shorter-term goals in order to get there,” De Grasse said. “You can't just hit home run out the park, you’ve got to get to first base, second base, third base, and eventually you get there.”
But as we all know, having that kind of a mentality takes discipline and strategy. So how does De Grasse step up to the challenge?
“I have to speak it into existence. I have to tell myself in my head every day that this is possible, that there are no limits to what I can do, and that just keeps me going and keeps me motivated. I’ll check things off the list, like this is my short-term goal, did I get it today? If I don't get it today let's try back tomorrow, it’s a new day and I’ll refocus.”
Speaking of doing too much all at once, it’s common practice for a lot of us to tip the scales on the work end of things while neglecting the rest of our lives. While it’s great to strive for success, how do we learn to not do too much and exceed our capacity? According to De Grasse, prioritizing, setting boundaries, and focusing on what’s important can really help.
“It can be overwhelming, but I've realized that throughout the years, when I'm trying to balance my sport, balance fatherhood, and balance all my other obligations off the track, I've learned to just try to do what I can. Doing too much can be overwhelming, it can drain you, it can take you out, so I just try to do as much as I'm capable of and what I can do. It’s a kind of balance I try to find.”
Have a Strong Support System
In the balancing act of life, there’s one thing that can help you maintain your sanity on your quest to succeed in business. Sure, you need self-motivation and self-discipline, but it’s not just about your own strong qualities of entrepreneurship, it’s also about having the support of those around you.
When asked the age-old question, what do you wish you had known 15 years ago, not just in the world of sprinting and racing but about life in general, De Grasse said “Your family or support system is very important. Now even though I’m so busy and have so many things going on in my life, I’m still like, ‘OK, I’ve got to call my mom or my uncle.’ Family is super important to me and I really depend on those people a lot who have supported me, not just in my career, but life in general. It’s OK to have a shoulder when I’m having a bad day or things aren’t going the way I expect.”
You can watch the full discussion here: A Conversation with Andre De Grasse
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