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What’s Next?: An Olympic Perspective

Blog #295

At our home in Leadville, we recently hosted two Olympic cyclists and their manager/team owner. They had come to participate in the world-famous Leadville Trail 100 MTB (a mountain bike race). The race is 104 miles, starts at over 10,000 feet, and gains a combined total of over 11,000 feet on a variety of terrains. As they put it, they were looking for a “fun ride” after their recent return from Tokyo. I guess when you are the first woman to have won an Olympic gold medal in track cycling, nine hours in the saddle with no oxygen and in the dust and rocky terrain sounds like fun. Regardless, that is not the point of this post.

The ladies’ manger arrived a few days before the cyclists; we were able to spend some time together and even get in a ride. It was fun. We talked about the challenges many Olympians face when the Olympics are over. There is a huge focus, intense work, and a mass volume of emotions along the way. In many cases, this is a culmination of years of an obsession. And then…it is over. Often, many athletes retire (usually in their 20s or 30s) and are faced with a huge question: what’s next?

During our discussions, I expressed how this experience is very similar to business owners who start, build, sell, or occasionally, drive the business into the ground. As with the athletes, there is a huge amount of work and focus, which concludes with a flurry of emotions, followed by an odd time where the individual owner or athlete may be challenged with the “what’s next” question.

I loved that the two young ladies staying with us were focusing their energy on what sounded like fun. It was in their wheelhouse, but it was not their area of expertise. They did not prep hard for the Leadville race. In fact, they did very little. However, they are experts in this field and are in peak health. By focusing on the fun part, they were able to continue to do what they are amazing at, have some fun, and give themselves permission and time to explore what will be next for them.

I liked this idea. As someone who specifically helps leaders to think differently, embracing your version of fun is an area I am going to continue exploring and encouraging those I work with to do so as well.

When you hit those transition points in life – like we all do – I challenge you to keep leaning into what you are great at, but focus on the fun aspect of it. Take the pressure off and give yourself the space to explore what’s next. You may be surprised with the outcome.

Both Jasmine and Jennifer finished the race and did well (surprise, surprise!). In fact, Jasmine finished ninth in Leadville, then went to Steamboat Springs, Colorado the next day for a 140-mile gravel race. She took the podium for a third-place finish in the Lead-Boat combo. Pretty cool for coming in cold and never having seen the course. Both ladies have already achieved great things – and at a such a young age. It will be fun to watch where they go.

How about you? What sounds like fun and what is next for you? Are you at a transition point and need a little direction?

Keep Smiling,