Diana Nyad, at age 64, and after four previous aborted attempts, has achieved her lifelong ambition of swimming the Straits of Florida from Cuba to the Keys without the protection of a shark cage.
Having been born bereft of the sports gene, rarely do I see something from the sporting world that inspires me. Certainly, the accomplishments of many Olympic athletes are incredible; but those triumphs occur early in life for most athletes. Rarely, if ever, do you see a story like this. This woman’s story, from her early life as a swimmer, through her time as an author, public speaker, and NPR commentator is incredibly inspiring to me.
While many her age are content to metaphorically sit on the front porch and watch the world go by, she has redefined the perception of what a “senior citizen” can be. I love seeing someone who, in many people’s eyes “should be retired”, still driven to accomplish something great.
So when you’re staring at a blank canvas, or plucking the same note on your guitar string, or waiting for inspiration to strike as you sit in Starbucks staring at a blank document – remember Diana Nyad. When the work just isn’t coming, when the writer’s block won’t move – remember Diana Nyad. Think of the woman who endured choppy seas, rough winds, jellyfish stings, hypothermia, circling sharks, dehydration, and lightning storms to emerge victorious from the ocean after having conquered her greatest challenge.
If you break it down into parts, it makes a lot of sense.
1) Diana determined what she wanted to do. Have you done that recently? Taken a fresh look at your goals? Your aspirations?
2) She determined how she wanted to do it. Using all of your skill, expertise, knowledge, and senses is important in achieving your dreams. Just dreaming them doesn’t count…
3) She asked for help. Diana was assisted by weather people, shark experts, navigation guides; a small army of support. It’s important to realize when you need help and why you need help. Then ask for it.
4) She kept doing it. She failed this same goal four times. FOUR TIMES. How many of us give up after the first try? The second? That she refused to give up is, I believe, her single greatest achievement. We must all keep reaching, and building, and planning, and doing.
It’s astounding what we can do – each of us – when we allow our passion to fuel us.