Balancing heart and mind

Speak Up & Advocate for Yourself: Lessons From Simone Biles

I’m no Simon Biles and I’ve never taken gymnastics. 

Which means I’ve never experienced the “Twisties”, a term for losing awareness of where you are in the air.

However, I’ve definitely felt out of sync with who I am and the work I do. How about you?

Which is why I was moved to tears after watching Simone make her comeback on the balance beam earlier this week. (Watch that bronze medal performance here.)

When she landed that dismount from the beam, arms up, head held high, giant smile filling her face, it was like she gave the world a giant “F You”.

In interviews she said, “I did it for me.”

Yes, Simone Biles opened the door a little wider to have conversations about mental health AND she did SO MUCH MORE. 

She showed the world what it means to advocate for yourself, stop people pleasing and take ownership of your life and work.

Feeling out of sync will impact how you show up, work and interact with others. So, if you’ve ever wished for a chance to step back and reconnect to who you are and the work you do, below are 4 lessons/insights that might inspire you. They inspired me.

Simone didn’t quit, she set a boundary

She may not have performed on the world stage, but behind the scenes she continued to train, treat the “twisties”, and, on a day-to-day basis, determine whether she felt fit for competition. That’s not quitting, it’s adapting to your current circumstances by setting a boundary.

It’s not easy to do, yet it’s necessary. It was a temporary retreat.

Have you ever felt like saying, “Enough” or “Not today” because you feel out of sync? What boundaries might you need to set?  

She said no to “people pleasing”

Biles received both praise and criticism from people everywhere. Yet she stood firm in what she needed to take care of herself.

People pleasing is a sure way to stay on the hamster wheel to burnout. Which in business looks or sounds like this:

  • “I want people to like me.”
  • “I don’t want to rock the boat.”
  • “The people in the room are more expert and experienced than me.”
  • “People are counting on me. I need to be there.”
  • “What will people think if I say that?”
  • “That’s not how we do things here.”

Are you a people pleaser? How does that impact your ability to speak up, share your ideas and pursue meaningful work?

Simone modified her plan and kept it simple

To compete on the beam, Biles took out her triple twisting, fancy pants dismount. Did it automatically lose points for difficulty? Yes. And she still rocked it and took home the bronze medal.

Guess what? If something is not working for you – presenting from a powerpoint, posting every day on social media, networking groups that suck the life out of you – you can always modify the plan so it DOES work for you. Regardless of what others might expect.

Never be afraid to adjust your dismount. What adjustments might you make to get back in sync with who you are and how you show up?

She opened the door for others to step into the spotlight

Placing the success of a team on one person is a heavy weight to carry. By stepping away to take care of herself she:

  1. Didn’t compromise the success of the team because there was already a strong team in place.
  2. Opened the door for others to step into the spotlight and showcase their skills and talents (and win medals!).

Same is true in business. As a business owner or leader, we don’t have to carry the burden on our own. Get the right team in place and everyone shines. Who is on your team?

The Bottom Line

What Simone Biles did last week shows courage. Courage to stay true to herself, courage to speak up for herself and courage to comeback and perform on HER terms.

And damn, the world needs more of that. No balance beam required.

Your Turn to Talk to Me

  • What’s your favorite Olympic sport?
  • Have you ever performed a routine on a balance beam? Tell me about it.
  • What are your best strategies for speaking up and advocating for yourself?

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About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.



  1. Alicia Silva on August 6, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Does it bother anyone else when commentators say that a bronze medal winning Olympian “lost” their competition??!! I have heard that said several times in the past week…when did bronze become losing?

    Loved this post, thanks Stacey.

    • Stacey Shipman on August 6, 2021 at 10:58 am

      I have not read about those commenting that she “lost”. Unbelievable! It’s like saying if we’re not perfect, we’re nothing…ugh. No one who works that hard, whether they medal or not, has lost. Thanks for sharing!

  2. leslie Ingram on August 6, 2021 at 9:40 am

    Well said and thought out – In the public eye, she stated a boundary and then delivered at her level. The more I read articles like yours, the more I appreciate what she did. Carry on!!

    • Stacey Shipman on August 6, 2021 at 10:56 am

      Leslie, thanks so much for sharing. Yes! She made a bold move in the public eye. While some tried to criticize, she still inspired millions. 👏

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