Career satisfaction,  Happiness,  Leadership,  Self-leadership

What Simone Biles, Jacinda Ardern, and Naomi Osaka Taught Us

Simone Biles, Jacinda Ardern, and Naomi Osaka share a common trait – they all made a courageous decision to quit, to say “no” despite the societal pressure to keep pushing forward, even when at the peak of their careers.

Jacinda Ardern stated, “I no longer have enough in the tank to do the job justice,” Simon Biles said she was not in the right mental place to continue, and Naomi Osaka declined to face the press, saying it was “damaging to the mental health.”

It requires a different kind of courage to say “No” and stop, especially when the prevailing culture tells us otherwise. Many people struggle to give themselves permission to pause or quit, but it can be a powerful step towards creating a new path for themselves.

I know it from personal experience. In 2008-9, I was in a big dilemma. I realized that my passion had shifted from engineering to helping people grow, but giving that up felt like a loss. Eventually, I permitted myself to quit, opening possibilities to explore something new. The journey wasn’t easy, but it gave me opportunities to grow and make a more meaningful impact.

Similarly, one of my clients, a mid-level professional, decided to quit when she struggled to find a fulfilling job role. She then pursued training in her desired direction and landed a more befitting role. Within a year, she established herself as a competent professional in that new field. Of course, her journey was also challenging, but the satisfaction she’s enjoying now would not be possible if she had stayed in her previous job.

Being an adult means making difficult choices, especially regarding what’s important at any given time. It takes courage to admit when we’re overwhelmed and can’t handle everything. Only then, we can consider alternatives and ask for help. If we continue running on the treadmill or hamster wheel of life, we’ll never know what other possibilities exist. Simone, Jacinda, and Naomi showed us that mindful quitting is not just ok but an act of courage and character.

The feature photo is by Andrea Piacquadio at

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