Who are the Naomi Osakas and Michael Phelps of the business world? We are.

No one knows all the sacrifices that you make just to be good. Naomi Osaka[i]

Champions, and Human Sustainability Champions

On May 31, 2021, a day after being fined $15,000 by the French Open for missing a press conference, top-ranked professional tennis player Naomi Osaka announced that she would withdraw from the French Open, prioritizing her emotional well-being. Osaka — described in the trailer to an upcoming Netflix documentary as “one of the most gifted and complex athletes of a generation” — worked hard to make her Haitian father and Japanese mother proud.

Brutal Honesty: It is OK to not be OK.

I communicated that I wanted to skip press conferences at Roland Garros to exercise self-care and preservation of my mental health. I stand by that. Athletes are humans. - Naomi Osaka[vii]

Mind the Mind

Dare to Care

The intention was never to inspire revolt, but rather to look critically at our workplace and ask if we can do better.

Where are the Business Champions?

While athletes such as Phelps, Osaka, USC volleyball player Victoria Garrick or the NBA player Kevin Love are telling their stories, inspiring others to seek mental health support, and seeking to change sports, business leaders have mostly supported reactive, palliative initiatives — more mindfulness apps, more sick days, better insurance — focused on helping staff manage stress. To change mental health at work, leaders should focus on the work part. This can be difficult for leaders who struggle with workplace empathy.

Resisting the Siren Songs of More, More, More

Herbert James Draper, A scene from Homer’s Odyssey in which Ulysses is tormented by Sirens, Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull

Fighting for Change —And Regeneration

Regeneration © Ellen Feldman

Resources

· Groysberg, Boris, Carin-Isabel Knoop, and Michael Norris. “Michael Phelps: ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’.” Harvard Business School Case 421–044, October 2020.

Sources

[i] Netflix documentary, trailer available on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZRls7B7uzY, accessed July 2021.

Passionate about encouraging human sustainability and equal access at work. Collector and connector of people and ideas.