When Australian cricketer Glenn Maxwell stepped onto the pitch Tuesday for a must-win World Cup match against Afghanistan, he carried more than just his bat and pads. The weight of past struggles and stigma shadowed his every step. In 2019, Maxwell had taken a bold step—he prioritised his mental health by temporarily stepping away from cricket to battle inner demons.
Now, with the scrutiny of the cricketing world upon him, could Maxwell overcome the setbacks and doubt to be the hero his team needed?
In an epic performance for the ages, the answer was an emphatic yes. With an unbeaten double century etched in cricketing history, Maxwell silenced his critics and powered Australia to a stunning three-wicket victory, propelling them into the semi-finals.
This was no ordinary innings. As the man stood between Afghanistan and victory on just one leg, it was a triumph of resilience and courage in the face of adversity. Maxwell emerged stronger from his break with his team's support. At the most crucial moment, he summoned greatness from within.
Maxwell's scintillating comeback shows caring for our minds and achieving greatness can go hand-in-hand. His superhuman performance brought to light stories of inner resilience — from elite athletes like Simone Biles to executives like Virat Kohli. The message is clear: with compassion for ourselves and each other, we can overcome setbacks and unlock our full potential.
Maxwell’s lead tells a story
Maxwell stands alongside a chorus of top athletes, from Michael Phelps to Brandon Marshall, who have bravely shared their own battles. This timely lead paints a vivid narrative that now reverberates far beyond sports into the most powerful corridors. The story is more pronounced in the post-pandemic world, where mental health stories have become ubiquitous. In the corporate world, icons like Satya Nadella and Sheryl Sandberg have amplified this narrative, shining a light on mental well-being like never before.
Over the last few years, we have seen a tidal wave of actions and initiatives surging forth, affirming mental health as a non-negotiable priority for leadership. Leading organisations recognise and concur that when they invest in the well-being of their workforce, they pave the way for personal and professional growth at its zenith. Genuine investment in employee well-being can spur professional excellence and real human potential.
As an HR leader and leadership coach, Santosh Ghate aptly points out, "Depression is not an uncommon aspect in the life of a sports athlete... they had the full support of their boards to ensure their well-being and reintegration into the game."
Work itself protects against mental illness; however, a hostile work environment can cause mental illness, with bullying and harassment having a significant impact.
The momentum reaches an inflexion point
HR leaders unanimously assert that supporting mental health isn't just a moral duty but a strategic imperative. As Costco's VP of HR aptly states, investing in employee well-being ultimately pays dividends in customer satisfaction and business success. Research reinforces that organisations fostering a culture of health and empathy witness increased innovation, higher retention rates, and enhanced resilience.
Pravin Kadam, Vice President at Morgan Stanley, wisely advocates for personal connections within teams, emphasising the need for mental support in high-pressure environments. Maneesh Johari, CEO of Buzan Centre, underscores the potential of carving out daily "Me-Time" for improved mental well-being.
The time has come to walk the talk. Employees are looking for leaders to step up with purpose and enact real change. And companies that acknowledge the human element today in its true sense will emerge as industry pioneers tomorrow. The world is up for a new era of health-centred and compassionate work cultures.
The question now is --who will answer the call? The rewards for those who do are immense. The cost of inaction could not be greater.