7 High Achievers Share How They Are Dealing With Challenges Caused By COVID
The road to success is filled with bumps, hurdles, and potholes. It’s how you view these barriers that can make the difference between being average and a high achiever. The most successful people know that grant rejections, book pitch denials, and even a pandemic are just a bump in the road. They don’t focus on the obstacles as they know they will get through, over, under, or around them. For high achievers, it’s not a question of if they will get through the latest hiccup, as they have confidence that they will. The question for them is how and when.
Conversely, some people have the ‘no problem too small’ mentality, even under normal circumstances. For them, every challenge is an insurmountable mountain to climb. They get lost in the details of despair and can’t see past the challenge(s). High achievers take the opposite approach. They quickly look for what they can control and determine how that can be leveraged.
Seven high achievers including an Olympian, astronaut, and, Nobel laureate, shared how they are approaching the challenges faced during this pandemic.
Three-time Olympic rower (2 gold medals, 1 silver medal)
Make the best use of your time
Almost every day, I read another article speculating that the Olympics will be cancelled next year. It’s disheartening. Sometimes I think of quitting. But I know that I have no control over what happens to the Olympics; I only have control over what I do. I’m taking it one day at a time. Every day when I wake up, I ask myself “What’s the best use of my time today?” For now, I still think it’s keeping up with my training for Tokyo. When that calculation changes, then I’ll change what I do. In other words, there’s no sense wasting your time worrying about things you can’t control. Act according to the information you have, and when the information changes, adjust as necessary.
Peter Agre, MD
2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Embrace restful free-thinking
Now in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, universities are shut down, except for the laboratories seeking scientific solutions to this international emergency. For many of us, the strange stillness provides a chance to unclutter our brains of the neural cobwebs that accumulated over decades of rushing to meet deadlines for responses designated as “urgent!” but that turned out to be relatively unimportant. With our credibility at stake, the public awaits the outcome of our scientific efforts to do something truly useful to end this scourge. The clock is ticking.
Charlie Camarda, PhD
Pivot to the newfound opportunity
I was in the middle of running my Epic Challenge Program with students in the US and Finland when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. My immediate reaction was what an opportunity this could be to help transform education. I started a new Epic Challenge, one that would not only mitigate the crisis, but ultimately eliminate all future pandemics. The name of the challenge: Pandemic Proof World. I also helped organize a team of retired scientists and engineers to assist school leaders in developing strategies to open schools safely by making this a learning experience for students and enlisting them to help be part of the solution.
Author of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox and Advisor Board member at Valor Performance
Wise hope and wise action
In between two prevailing attitudes — head in the sand, delusion, over-the-top pollyanna on the one hand; pessimism and despair on the other — lies a third way: wise hope and wise action. It’s about saying, “This is what is happening right now, here’s what I can control, I might as well do the best that I can.”
Jenn Wilcox Thomas
Principal, Hall Capital Partners
Constraints breed innovation
It’s been amazing to see how the pandemic has helped clarify business priorities, and created a sense of community around all working toward the same goals. How can we be intentional about exactly what we’re working on, and do fewer things better.
Gibor Basri, PhD
Astrophysicist & Former Vice Chancellor, UC Berkeley
Winds of positive change
When I was a university administrator and we had to deal with the Great Recession, the phrase we kept pushing on each other was “it’s not a crisis, it’s an opportunity” (ha!). So while my personal life is well set up to ride COVID out, I’m hoping that it brings the winds of positive change faster to the world, which sorely needs them.
Marta Karczewicz, PhD
VP of Technology, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Reimagine brainstorming sessions
While the unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic have been trying, the continued engagement and effort to come to meetings with new ideas by our team is inspiring. As a group of engineers, we’re driven by solving technical issues and in order to continue our progress we pivoted from our in-person ad-hoc brainstorming sessions and instead, conducted modified “brainstorming” sessions, which in research projects is instrumental to how we problem solve. By providing materials ahead of our new-aged, virtual brainstorm we saw increased participation and ideation. Seeing this collaboration, reminded me of how important the notion of having an open door policy is. Rather than wait for people to come to me, I took the approach of “knocking” on everyone else’s door instead, which helped identify issues and problem solve so we could achieve our quarterly goals.
We all face professional challenges. They are terrible at the moment. High achievers recognize that with perspective, many challenges can be overcome, especially with the right support systems in place. They look for the opportunity, and focus on what they can control at this moment in time.