How Olympic achievements can inspire us to aim high and keep going

After a long wait and a lot of uncertainty, the Olympic games have finally commenced.  For the athletes that have made it, this is their chance to fulfil a lifelong dream.  All the training and sacrifice has brought them to this point where they will be tested against the best in the world. There will be many competitors that are happy just to be there and beat their own personal best whilst there are some medal hopefuls for whom the pressure is great.

For me, the opening ceremony was moving as I thought about the dreams of all these athletes. Timing is critical and with an extra year to wait after the games were postponed in 2020 due to Covid, there must have been some who wondered if they would make it. Indeed, sadly, some have had their hopes dashed as they failed to qualify, found themselves injured or been prevented from travelling as a result of Covid.

One achievement that has shone through in the early days of these games is that of Tom Daley who many of us have been rooting for over the last 20 years.  He was 14 when he went to his first Olympics and we have watched him grow up with Team GB.

Tipped for success from the beginning, the main prize has stayed just out of reach. Securing his second bronze medal in Rio, Tom told journalists he was ‘heartbroken’ and would be at Tokyo for a fourth attempt.  The journalist very insightfully responded that it would make for a better story in the long term.

On Monday, Tom won his first gold medal alongside his diving partner, Matty Lee. Tom’s story confirms what I have always believed:

If you want something badly enough and are willing to work hard for it every day, it will be yours.     

After the games in Rio, Tom kept hold of his dream, focused on training and technique and achieved that long sought after gold medal in Tokyo.  We have seen him deal with many challenges throughout his journey and I certainly am so inspired by the resilience, grit and determination that has led him to this point.

Of course, Tom isn’t the only one celebrating at the games so far and many are hoping that their efforts will inspire others to achieve their own goals, sporting or otherwise. In an interview with the BBC yesterday, another gold medallist, Adam Peaty said:

“If there is one thing you do today, just do one thing better.”

Their achievements may be personal but their legacy is universal.  Each of these athletes have made huge sacrifices to reach the games and their families the same. They all have a unique story but it is ultimately about challenge and achievement.  We can all learn something from their efforts and the questions is… where will your journey take you?

Have you been inspired by our Olympic champions? Have you taken something valuable from watching them compete? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Preparing for a positive personal review

Earlier this week, I chaired a discussion on ‘preparing for a positive personal review’ at an event run by the Women’s Network in in my organisation. Recently, our review process has been high on the agenda with a new system launched that aims to ensure a high quality conversation during this important annual one to one.

It was particularly timely to be holding the event this week as Recruiting Times published an article on Monday which suggested that “ditching the annual review” is one of four key HR trends for 2017. It seems that a number of major private sector companies such as Deloitte, GE and Adobe are taking this step and so part of our event explained why we are bucking this trend and choosing to continue with a traditional  approach.

Our panel consisted of two senior members of staff who have been leading on the development of a new personal review process, which is currently finding its feet within the organisation. The policy now asks managers to facilitate a conversation which is centred on the individual, asking people to think about what they want to achieve in the coming year, what support they need what training and development they think would benefit them going forward.

During the event, our panel shared their own experiences of personal reviews, complete with success stories, and they demonstrated how this process has helped them to achieve the positions they are in today. They were both very clear that the annual review has been extremely valuable in their own career development and encouraged participants to take time before the meeting to consider aspirations and development needs to make sure they are in a position to have a worthwhile discussion.

They set out number of questions to consider when preparing for you annual review:

  • What’s gone well over the last 12 months?
  • How well have I met my current objectives?
  • What am I enjoying about my role?
  • What do I find challenging?
  • Is there anything I am struggling with?
  • What do I want to achieve this year?
  • What hasn’t happened and why?
  • What are my career goals and aspirations? And what skills or experience to I need to help me achieve them?

Our panellists were also stressed that the review is something that is relevant throughout the year, rather than once every 12 months. The meeting is an opportunity to set your goals for the period but needs to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure you are making progress. The advice was to make sure you keep a copy of your goals somewhere you can find it easily and keep reminding yourself of your aims to ensure you remain on track.

Finally, when asked to provide one ‘takeaway’ or key piece of advice for participants at the event, this is what they had to say:

  • Own it – this is your personal review so it’s up to you to make sure it goes well and achieves for both yourself and the organisation.
  • Be honest – your line Manager can only help you if you are honest about what you want to get from the role and what you can contribute. Don’t just tell them what you think they want to hear but be honest so that you can have a truly constructive conversation.


How does this compare with your own experiences of annual reviews? Are you in favour of this approach or do you prefer something different? Do you have any further tips to share to make sure these discussions are worthwhile? Please share your thoughts below.


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