Fortunately, our panel conversation offered plenty of insight into how female athletes – and women in general – can get outside of their comfort zone, navigate major change and overcome the impossible. Here are some of the best bits of advice from our mentors including Tim Stuckey, Senior Manager of Marketing and Integration at Toyota Australia; Chloe Esposito, gold medal modern pentathlon Olympian; Glenn McGrath, international cricket legend; and Emma Vosti, Channel 7 sports journalist.
1. Be authentic, across the board
Being your authentic self was a piece of advice backed by every single member of the panel.
Mr Stuckey says that when it comes to partnering with ambassadors and athletes, the main thing his team looks for is authenticity and genuine connection.
“That somebody has common values that represent what they believe in and that there’s a connection there with Toyota’s approach to values, we’re very strong on that,” he said. “Have a clear understanding of what you believe in and what your value proposition is to an organisation, and then seek out organisations that have similar values and that’s where you’ll find you’ll get the best connection.”
This advice extends far beyond athletic pursuits, applying to so many aspects of life including choosing a job, finding a mentor or building a business.
Ms Vosti, who has helped countless people tell their stories through her work, says showing your personality is a major plus.
“Don’t feel like you have to be perfect. That’s boring and no one is perfect, it’s not relatable,” she says. “Be yourself and be prepared to make mistakes.”
2. Surround yourself with the right people
Having the right people around you for support and guidance is essential, especially when navigating major moments of change.
This is something Mr McGrath knows well, experiencing a tough transition from a strict routine playing professional cricket to a virtually unstructured life after retirement.
“I think what helped me there was having the right people, having good people in your life, having good advice from family and friends,” he said. “It makes a huge difference.”
But that doesn’t mean surrounding yourself with “yes men”.
“Seek out those who will give you honest, frank feedback, if you’re not doing something well you want to know that,” Mr Stuckey says.
This is where mentorship can play an important role, which Ms Vosti has experienced herself.
“I think everyone should help other people and if people didn’t help me get to where I am then I wouldn’t be there, so it only feels natural to help other people,” Ms Vosti says. “Often things naturally evolve out of conversation and relationships, that’s how some of the best collaborations happen when people find common ground and interest.”
3. Keep an open mind
Chloe Esposito, gold-medal modern pentathlon Olympian and mum-to-be, is embarking on a completely different kind of change with impending motherhood. However, Ms Esposito has learned that having an open mind is one of the most important elements when things don’t necessarily go to plan.
“I’m so used to routine – this is where you’re going to be at this time, this is what you’re going to do, this is how you have to eat,” she says. “And now that’s going to be thrown out the window because if the baby is sad or wants to feed, so it’s going to be very different but that’s one thing I’ve always learned with sport and with injury, you can’t always have that routine and you have to be very open minded about things.”
Ms Esposito recounted the lead-up to the Rio Olympics in 2016, which saw injuries hampering her regular routine. On her dad’s advice she managed to deal with the situation at hand and do her best outside of her comfort zone, which landed her Australia’s first ever gold medal in her sport.
“I’ve been brought up thinking if you put in the hard work, anything is possible and I knew I could back myself in that 110%, I put in the hard work.”
4. Take risks
Getting outside of your comfort zone will always involve uncertainty but the importance of taking risks is what Ms Esposito took away from her speed mentoring with Women’s Health Editor Jacqui Mooney.
“I think that’s really important, because in sport I have, but I never thought about after sport, in the business world or whatever I want to do after,” she says. “She said even if it doesn’t work it’s going to lead you to something else and you’ll eventually get to where you need to be.”