Lessons Learned From Diana Nyad
Diana Nyad is tantalizing close to realizing her life-long dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida across the Gulf Stream and Strait of Florida.
While the media will extensively cover her tremendous effort over her estimated 53-54 hour solo swim, what is most impressive to us is how she ultimately overcame her daily doubts, punishing practices, scathing sunburns, numerous nightmares, and financial fears that Nyad faced over the last several years.
Not everyone was in her camp and a few never will be. She faced derision from coaches and marathon swimmers; she faced numerous no-thank-yous from sponsors. She often faced disbelief and reluctance. She regularly faced suspicion and incredulity.
But she kept her faith over decades; she kept her dream alive despite storms and stings. This swim was not for others; this swim was for her. It was her own personal dream, stretched out publicly over the decades.
Failure followed failure followed failure, year after year after year. Criticism was coupled with bad luck. Fears of jellyfish were added to fears of sharks. Concerns over distance were overshadowed by massive unchartered eddies. Death and serious injury were only-all-true possibilities.
But she proved two important lessons that are easy to say and much more difficult to accomplish:
1. She took never-give-up adage to the extreme. She ignored the naysayers; she sought solutions to obstacles thrown at her by Mother Nature. She nurtured her dreams while storm clouds literally and figuratively set her back innumerable times. Tears may have been shed both publicly and privately, but her iron always overcame, even if the process took a lifetime.
2. She is always gracious and supportive of her team. Her dream was not a solitary effort or the work of a single individual. Nyad attracted and recruited knowledgeable and passionate people from around the world. And she made each individual feel valuable and wanted. She is a strong-willed leader whose hearts is always mindful of her troops.
As she is nearing her goal, she characteristically looked at her team in full control of her thoughts and intentions and effectively summed up the two lessons above: “I am about to swim my last two miles in the ocean. This is a lifelong dream of mine and I’m very very glad to be with you. Some on the team are the most intimate friends of my life and some of you I’ve just met. But I’ll tell you something, you’re a special group. You pulled through; you are pros and have a great heart. So let’s get going so we can have a whopping party. Thank you, all of you, thank you for your generosity.”
Follow her last part of her life-long journey here.
Copyright © 2013 by World Open Water Swimming Association