written by Courtney Lynch

Like millions of Americans, I’ve been enjoying the Olympics as they bring us the joy of witnessing the competitive spirit and committed effort of the world’s finest athletes. Also, as the mom of a talented swimmer, it’s been both exhilarating and gut wrenching to watch one of my daughter’s teammates compete and, ultimately, come within 1/100th of a second of winning an Olympic medal. While some might consider this an Olympic tragedy, I see it as amazing progress in the career of a young leader who’s just beginning to find her place on the world stage. At 18, Torri Huske is heading to Stanford in the fall. She’ll likely be a force at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. And, when she gets there, she’ll have the benefit of experience.

What’s fascinating about Torri is, but for the pandemic, she might not have even qualified for the Olympics. What the pandemic allowed her was an extra year to elevate her training, grow, and improve. It wasn’t easy. She had to scramble for access to water as Covid forced pool closures. She had to improvise at times, resorting to running hills when she couldn’t swim laps. Yet she persevered and made it through — stronger, tougher, and faster for the adversity.

The past 18 months have given us all experience. It might not be the experience we wanted, but when it comes to living amid the health crisis of the century, we’ve done it. As the Delta variant surges and we begin re-masking, it’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t our first pandemic rodeo. We can lead our way through this.  

Here are three ways to continue to lead as we buckle up and face what’s coming:

  1. Be intentional with your actions. Reflect on your team at work and your family. How do you want to support, encourage, and coach the people you care about through the coming weeks of uncertainty, frustration, and potential disruption? Much of what’s ahead feels uncertain. We don’t know how big the uptick in cases will ultimately be, but we do know best practices for what got us through the darker days of 2020. Bring those practices to the forefront of your leadership engagement.
  2. Rewrite the story. Is there something you regret doing or not doing during earlier experiences with Covid? Perhaps you wished you had exercised more, had better boundaries with work, or went the extra mile to touch base with your colleagues. Going forward you have the opportunity to adjust your response to current conditions based on what you know now. Leverage your experience.
  3. Exercise choice. We can’t control a virus, yet we can choose our response. Every single one of us had our lives disrupted because of the pandemic. We can give ourselves over to the fear of what another possible surge means or we can mindfully craft our response.

Every Olympic athlete had to improvise to make it to Tokyo this week. Very little about their path to success went as they planned. Yet just by getting to the Games they’ve prevailed in ways they never could’ve imagined before 2020. While we might not be representing our country in Japan, we too have prevailed to get to this point. Let’s face what’s ahead wiser, stronger, and better together.

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