How to think like an Olympian

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

It might seem like there’s a secret to having an Olympic mentality, but according to one Olympian, it’s surprisingly straightforward.

“It’s about the building blocks of who you are,” said Katie Smith, a three-time Olympic women’s basketball gold medal winner. “The hard work, the preparation, the goals and the drive. And then it's about embracing the journey.”

Smith competed in the Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2008 and is now lead assistant coach for the Minnesota Lynx of the Women's National Basketball Association. She will talk more about the Olympian mentality at OSCPA’s July 23 Women, Wealth and Wellness conference.

And when Smith offers insight on hard work and preparation paying off, it’s not just lip service. Along with her stellar Olympic career, she is among the top leading scorers in women's professional basketball and has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Doing the work is crucial to feeling empowered and confident in your role, but Smith said you also have to be willing to take chances and try new things, even though the possibility of failure might be scary. Staying in your comfort zone won’t benefit you in the long-term.

“You have to be prepared and go into a situation knowing that you've done the work and you put yourself in a position to be in that room,” she said. “And don't be afraid to have conversations and bring up something that maybe will get shot down, because you'll learn something from it.”

She emphasized the need to draw upon your past experiences while also taking the time to see the bigger picture, a valuable reminder when it can get easy to focus solely on the next task. That will help you have a clear idea of your purpose, she said, and allow you to focus on the things that matter.

Smith’s transition from player to coach has also presented her a new perspective on basketball, and what it means to give back to others.

“As you get older you start to realize you have to have a voice as well,” she said. “And it makes you think about what you are doing now and also for those in the future who are following your footsteps and hopefully, will reap the benefits even more as they continue through their careers.”

Register for Women, Wealth and Wellness and hear more from Katie Smith and other excellent speakers here.

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