High-performance is simple, if you are committed to being fully prepared.

“I wake up every morning with a list of tasks in my head, all focused on getting better,” said Four-time Olympian, two-time medallist and London 2012 Team Canada Flag Bearer Simon Whitfield about Games preparation. “The task doesn’t care if it’s hard to do.”

Like Canadian Olympic legend Whitfield, you’ve already proven that delivering high-performance on demand, in any environment, means high-performing planning and preparation. You wouldn’t be reading this, otherwise. But the question is: How does your commitment to high-performance preparation apply to your Games-specific role inside a Games-specific environment?

According to Olympic performance psychologist Dr. Karen MacNeill, the answer is straightforward and inspiring:

Keep being great at what you do every day — in a Games-specific way.

In Part One of her preparation series on wellness, MacNeill helped you confirm and define what makes you a high-performer. In this second and final part of the series, she shows you how to put those attributes to work in a way that can elevate your preparation for the Games environment.

MacNeill emphasizes it is important to continue developing these attributes now, in the heart of your Games-readiness plan for Lima 2019. Carrying out these ‘tasks’ will help make sure the best version of yourself is ready to show up when it matters most in Peru.


At this point in your Games preparation plan, you are starting to become aware of your high-performance self. At TOPS you will learn further to understand your role at Games and the behaviours, attitude and characteristics that describe you excelling in that role. If not, remind yourself how to build, create awareness and identify the 6 essential attributes of your high-performing self. For example, high-performance for a Mission Team member may be measured by role execution, effective communication, growth mindset, support and optimizing recovery. With these attributes considered and in place for you as an individual, ensure you are continually monitoring how well you are doing in those areas during your final preparation phase(s) and especially throughout the Games. Most importantly, adjust as needed.
Like you, every high-performer knows how important it is to understand exactly why they do what they do. Thought leader Simon Sinek confirms this knowledge is key to excelling in a high-performance environment. In order to materialize these advantages, he suggests re-confirming your ‘why’ precisely by A) Describing the contribution you want to make. IE: Ask yourself ‘What contribution can I make in my role?’ and B) Describe its impact. IE: My ‘why’ is to … (insert your contribution), so that … (insert impact). It’s important to articulate and commit to what is at your core; what you believe in deeply, what drives you. Doing this will help to inspire action, stay energized, and guide you in the face of adversity … which is in the make-up of every Games environment.
For Team Canada, mindfulness is a big part of Games preparation. However, the only way to cultivate its many benefits is to practice it. Thankfully, it can be as simple as eating and breathing. For example, try mindful eating by directing your attention to the present moment; heightening your awareness of the smell of your food, its taste and texture as it hits your tongue and the feel of your fork in your hand etc. You can practice mindful breathing simply by ‘following your breath’ for a certain period (start with 5 min). Pick the part of the breath most prominent to you (IE: air hitting your nostrils, rise and fall of your chest) and follow that. There are a variety of mindfulness techniques that are simple, yet powerful and can be incorporated into your Games-time performance moments. You can also try digital tools to help: Headspace, Insight Timer and/or Calm are great resources. When high-performers are mindful, they are more open, courageous, balanced, focused and disciplined. In a Games-time environment, these are the people who can find the clearest pathway to success.
To show up as your best self on a consistent basis in preparation for Games, having focus is an essential attribute. But with so many distractions and competing priorities, how do you direct your attention to what is most important? Easy. Plan for it. To establish a quick ‘focus plan’ for any situation at Games, simply answer these two questions: 1. What do I need to do to execute the task at hand? 2. How do I want to feel? For example, if you are needing to have a ‘critical conversation’ with another team member, then a ‘focus plan’ for that situation may be: 1. I want to articulate a key message & listen to their point of view. 2. I want to feel calm & poised, with a sense of openness. It goes without saying things happen fast at Games. By planning your approach to staying focused in predictable AND unpredictable Games-time situations, your confidence and efficiency will surely increase.
Hardiness promotes resilience and adaptability; high-performance attributes definitely needed to bring your best to Peru. It is the ability to endure difficult conditions. Enter: Any Games environment. To tailor your Games-specific plan for hardiness, think of a difficult circumstance you may face and apply the three Cs: Commitment, Control and Challenge to capture how you will overcome. Commitment — Why you should endure this difficult situation? Control — Identify the thoughts, behaviors, attitude and efforts that will lead to best results in the challenging situation. These are things you can control. Challenge — Identify the opportunity (vs. threat) that exists in a situation by listing ways you can grow, learn, develop as a result of this challenge. Though situations at Games will be different, and the need to be resilient and adaptable will vary, these established answers will enable you to tailor a preparation plan specifically for you, your strengths and your role.
The demands and pressures of the Games environment are consistent. That’s why managing energy with an established recovery action plan is a big part of showing up as the best version of yourself. To optimize recovery during Games-time, it’s key this happens in advance. Here’s how: 1. Identify the potential risks if you don’t prioritize recovery as part of your daily plan. IE: Burnout, frustration, vulnerability, fatigue. 2. Determine your Games-time action plan for each of the following pillars of recovery: Moving — For how many minutes each week do you plan to be physically active? How will you achieve this goal? IE: Walking vs transit. Eating — What weekly intentions can you put in place regarding your Games-time nutrition to maintain energy? Sleeping — To get suitable rest and restore energy, what guidelines can you set to ensure you are acquiring an adequate amount of sleep when you can? Thinking –— Make sure you have enough mental-recovery time to maintain focus and stamina. You can make this happen by identifying things now which you can do on a daily basis to ‘de-focus’ away from work in order to ‘re-focus’ on demand.


Being part of any Games is as unique as it is challenging. So, optimize your experience and reach high levels of performance by doing this necessary work in advance. Simply put in the effort now so you can tap into your high-performance potential when the Games inevitably demand it.


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