TAP In with Tristan : Lessons from Naomi Osaka

Tristan talks about the legend Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open on this installment of the TAP In with Tristan. Her decision reminded us that the one power we always have is the power of refusal. Just remember, at the end of the day, you can’t do your job well if you aren’t doing well.

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Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. In this episode, I want to talk about the legend Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open.

For those who aren’t aware of what happened, let me give you a quick rundown. Naomi Osaka is the #2 ranked women’s tennis player in the world and was going to be a major contender at the French Open. She stated that she’s been dealing with depression and anxiety, both of which made it incredibly difficult for her to do press conferences with outlets around the world. She’s also often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health, especially in press conferences. So, she announced that she was going to skip the press conferences for the French Open to exercise better self-care. The women’s tennis federation announced that they would fine her $15,000 and warned her that further action could lead to a ban from future tournaments. So, while facing a crazy amount of pressure instead of buckling to it, Osaka decided to completely remove herself from the French Open, refusing to work under the set conditions.

This move created a lot of social media buzz. As someone who is always thinking about the systems professionals operate in, I saw this as a masterclass for many of us in workplaces where we often feel powerless.

Osaka’s decision reminded us that the one power we always have is the power of refusal. Osaka decided to prioritize herself by saying no and refusing to work at the expense of her health and wellness. Often, it’s tough to choose yourself over corporate interests as the demands of our work often tell us that we don’t have any choice. That’s why saying no isn’t always easy to do alone and usually has more impact when done collectively. Nonetheless, I’m a firm believer that prioritizing yourself will be the best decision that you can make in your career.

Through this act, Osaka showed us that setting hard boundaries around work, while important, also requires us to understand and make peace with the consequences that may follow. Her boundary cost her not only the $15k fine but the potential of the prize money and maybe even more endorsements, but she still decided that her well-being was more important than all of that. For those of us who are professionals but not tennis stars, this could look like declining to take on certain assignments, setting time restrictions around when you work and can be accessed, or taking a medical leave of absence from work. It could even go as far as taking collective action with co-workers to address poor working conditions.

While no decision comes without consequence, you have to ask yourself what’s more important? The needs of a company that would have no issue replacing you or eliminating your role or your need to take care of yourself holistically? Just remember, at the end of the day, you can’t do your job well if you aren’t doing well.

This tip is brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @layfieldresume, or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.

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