In the last few weeks, most televisions have been tuned into the Olympic games. People are watching at home, in restaurants, at the airport, on their phones in transit, and anywhere else you can find a TV set. It’s almost like we need the Olympics to distract us, boost our mood, and bring us hope.  

At a time when mental health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, Olympic athletes remind us to look beyond the moment and persevere through uncertainty. Champions focus on the goal, then chart a path to get there.  

That sounds easy. But it takes unwavering determination and belief in your abilities along with endless hours of practice to develop the skills and mindset to become an elite athlete.  

Similarly, a great leader, or employee doesn’t become great overnight. It takes time to learn that failure can lead to success, and persistence only counts if you are learning along the way.  

And neither an Olympic athlete nor an exceptional individual can authentically evaluate what they can do if they do not make their mental health and well-being a priority.  

Good Mental Health Self-Care Equals Forward Progression

Almost all athletes have the potential to make great leaders. Not all leaders have the potential to be good athletes. Athletes must keep their minds and body in shape to perform well. Their body is their machine.

Leaders must keep their business in shape with their minds to grow their company. Their team of workers or both is their machine.

Human machines don’t run on autopilot, and they don’t consider human emotion when making decisions and planning for the future. To keep things running as smoothly as possible, great athletes, leaders and employees share some of the same traits.

"If someone wants to call me weak for asking for help, that's their problem. Because I am saving my own life."

–Michel Phelps

Promote the usage of your EAP (use it yourself if need be) & encourage employees to take time off to recharge and reset—that goes for leaders too. Watch the video below. 



Shared qualities of great athletes, leaders and employees include:

  • Self-confidence
  • Don’t dwell on the past
  • Goal Setter
  • Self-Discipline
  • Ability to manage stress
  • Engage in self-care
  • Inspire others to succeed
  • Team Player
  • Good communication skills
  • Willingness to ask for help
  • Understanding of how mental health affects their output

Historically, people’s mental health was kept secret. Happy, sad, angry or just completely bummed, and burnout was not discussed.

Athletes weren’t thought of as people. They were superheroes or some sort of God you paid tribute to, and leaders were people you didn’t approach but carefully watched from afar. And great employees were supposed to keep performing at a high levels in order to get promoted. In many minds, athletes had the best of all worlds. Leaders had the best jobs. Employees were trying to keep their jobs.

No one ever asked how they were feeling, and self-care was just new-age propaganda. So, they kept at it, day after day, until suddenly athletes realized they hated their sport, and leaders decided they hated being in charge. Employees did not like their jobs and felt overworked. This abrupt change is also known as burnout.

Forward progression came to an abrupt halt, and without the motivation to continue, they found themselves in stagnant water.

Fast forward to the 2021 Olympic Games and USA gymnast Simone Biles, who, although she qualified for all four individual final events, she withdrew from the competition.

Why? Because she felt like she was bringing her team down. Because she didn’t think she was up for the challenge. Because she didn’t feel mentally fit to compete.

If your head isn’t in the game, neither is your heart. That’s when people make mistakes, and accidents happen. Sometimes you never fully recover.

Rising Up to the Challenge of Our Rival (Eye of the Tiger)

Your rival can be anything or anyone that causes you to second guess your abilities. It can be a competitor or that voice in your head. The boss, the children, the husband, wife, or friend that says, “Give it up. You can’t do it.”

Athletes have coaches that help them push through the doubt, and Leaders and employees have mentors. Both are well suited to support your mental health needs as you progress from one stage to the next. They make it their job to know you as a whole person.

Prioritizing mental health is like putting oil in the engine. It runs smoother, safer, better. According to TIME, The International Olympic Committee addresses mental health for the first time in these Olympics by establishing guidelines for athletes and coaches.

The goal is “to educate, screen for, and manage mental health issues.” Team USA will now include four mental health professionals who will accompany the team to the Olympics.

It will take time to build a new culture around mental health for athletes. The fact that recognition of their mental health and its importance for athletes is a significant step in the right direction.

Success comes with physical training and mental fitness. Both take practice, and that equals success.

In the workplace, it usually falls on the team leader to keep things running smoothly. It is their job to recognize when the job isn’t getting done, discover the problem and fix it.

Offering mental health resources to employees will give them the benefit of a happier work life which translates to a smooth running, well-oiled business.


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When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program (a total Well-being Program) can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.


Davis, W. (2021, June 28). You Don't Have To Be An Olympian To Prioritize Your Mental Health. Retrieved from npr:

Fryer, J. (2021, July 28). ‘OK not to be OK’: Mental health takes top role at Olympics. Retrieved from AP:

Park, A. (2021, July 22). Retrieved from TIME:

Park, A. (2021, July 27). Simone Biles’ Olympic Team Final Withdrawal Could Help Athletes Put Their Mental Health First. Retrieved from TIME: