I was very fortunate to be a professional athlete and represent Great Britain at two Olympic games. But during that time, I struggled with my mental health and was ultimately diagnosed with depression, bipolar tendencies and anxiety.
The journey I have since been on, including therapy, a return to sport and becoming a mental health ambassador, changed my outlook on life. Ultimately, I realised that my main passion is wellbeing and wanting to help others. Now I am proud to lead on performance for national wellbeing platform Champion Health.
I strongly believe that wellbeing is the foundation of high performance. We are all high-performers and we’re all striving to be the best we can be. We’re also all human beings – we all have our wellbeing to consider.
For too long wellbeing and performance have been viewed as being on opposite ends of the spectrum, when in reality they go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. The question is: how do we bridge the gap between the two?
Throughout my time in elite sport, I learnt many lessons about the links between wellbeing and performance, but these lessons don’t just belong on the running track. They apply to every human being, in every role they play, be that as an employee, a colleague, a parent, or a friend.
Here are my top tips and personal experiences of bridging the gap between wellbeing and performance in the workplace:
1. Focus on the personal and the professional will thrive
My time in elite sport has taught me one thing above all others: a happy athlete is a fast athlete. Just as a happy athlete is a fast athlete, a content employee is a productive one.
Try as we might, we cannot fully separate our wellbeing from our professional performance. If you’re struggling in your personal life, then the effects of this will filter through to your professional life. This means that prioritising your work at the expense of your wellbeing is counter-productive.
Instead, we should be focussing on our wellbeing, to lay the foundations for high performance. This could be something as simple as making time for self-care every day or ensuring that you are getting enough sleep. Make sure you’re giving yourself the opportunity to thrive personally. If the human part of you is thriving, then the professional part of you will as well.
2. Measure yourself on effort, not results
It’s tempting to measure yourself constantly on results. For a long time, that’s all I measured myself by. The problem is that you’re unlikely to achieve your desired outcomes every day. For whatever reason, some days are just rubbish and you struggle to get going. When these days happen, you are almost certainly going to perform below your peak.
Therefore, if you measure yourself only on results, you may have some highs, but you’re also guaranteed to have some lows as well. These fluctuations make it impossible to stay consistent, which is what high performers are always striving for.
If you want to find this consistency, judge yourself on effort. Effort understands that you are a human being and that you don’t always have 100% in the tank.
People always talk about achieving, rather than just trying. If you’re trying your best and giving 100% effort, that’s enough on any given day, regardless of the result. If you can walk away at the end of the day, and know you gave it your all, then that day is a success.
When you achieve this consistency, your life will become a high-performance plateau.I learnt this from training with some of the best athletes that have ever lived. They were not superstars every day. They were just consistently showing up and giving it their all.