“It’s the fifth time I stand on this shore, the Cuban shore, looking out at the distant horizon, believing again that I’m going to make it all the way across that vast, dangerous wilderness of an ocean….this year, the mantra is — and I’ve been using it I training — find a way. You have a dream and you have obstacles in front of you, as we all do. None of us ever get through this life without heartache, without turmoil, and if you believe and you have faith and you can get knocked down and get back up again and you believe in perseverance as a great human quality, you find your way…
Diana Nyad, on her epic swim from Cuba to Florida at age 64
Wow, what a thrilling story! After four failed attempts, the first when she was in her 20s, Diana Nyad plunged into the water and tried again — determined to swim 100 miles across the open ocean from Cuba to Florida. She braved endless nights, deadly jellyfish, sharks, hypothermia and all the unbelievers who said she couldn’t do it to finally win the biggest competition in her life — the one she had with herself. What grit! What determination! What a triumph over adversity! As I listened to an inspiring TED talk my friend and mentor Coach Tully sent me, three thoughts leaped out at me:
Be the journey — Over the 40 or so years that Diana was thinking, dreaming, preparing, and failing for her epic swim, she was on a journey. As she put it, she was “reaching for the horizon” over and over again. And as she said so well, “…when you reach for the horizon, as I’ve proven, you may not get there, but what a tremendous build of character and spirit that you lay down. What a foundation you lay down in reaching for those horizons.” Every time she pushed and stretched herself, even when she failed, she was adding to her bank of perseverance, so that when she needed to draw on it to survive, she had “money in the bank.” Something to reflect on.
Build a team — Diana swam those 100 miles on her own, but she wasn’t alone. Over the years, she’d built an incredible team of 30 people — friends and experts in all areas — who guided, encouraged, and supported her. All around her during those 53 long hours, she had people in boats giving her food and support.
“Never, ever give up” — These are some of the words Diana shared with the world when she finally stepped on the shore of Key West. “Find a way” — by taking this as her mantra, Diana opened herself up to all kinds of ideas and opportunities that ultimately led to her triumph. When you are determined to find a way, you’re telling the universe, “I can do this — I can make it happen. And I will. I’m going to keep going until I get there.”
When you summon up this kind of grit — and show up every day and take action to achieve your goal, the universe takes notice and supports you. And when the universe is part of your team — anything is possible. So today, let’s decide to “find a way” and “never, ever give up” as we all write on.