The weather in Wisconsin has been beautiful lately so I packed up a blanket, some water, my shades and a book and walked down to the river near my house; it was the perfect setting for an afternoon of reading. I have recently been reviewing one of the top five LIFE leadership books called The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J Schwartz. It doesn’t matter how many times I read that book, I am always inspired. After a little while I decided to ‘take a break’ and lay on my blanket in the grass when my subconscious thoughts began to take over. I was instantly transported to my childhood days when I used to play make-believe with my brother and friends.
They would play cops and robbers or power rangers and I would always offer myself up to be the victim in need of rescuing. Or we would play with Lincoln Logs or Lego’s and build the coolest homes and cities imaginable. The beauty and innocence of those days is something I always treasure. It was a time when it was okay to dream, to create, and just explore possibilities. Whether we were digging for buried treasure in our backyard, building sand castles along the beach or contemplating if there were people living beyond the stars, we lived in a time of wonder and intense curiosity. Our minds were wild with thoughts of our future and how the world was going to be when we were grown up. In those days, no matter how many times I changed my career ambition, I knew the possibility for success was there, because I believed it!
At what point in our lives did we lose sight of our childlike spirit? When did that little person that once looked at life with excitement and curiosity begin to fade from view? I’d like to think that child slowly lost its power when fear, competition, doubt, and various other outside influences began to get too loud for us to ignore. Most people fear failure and doubt their own abilities and potential for greatness. We replaced those once wild thoughts that used to bring us alive, with thoughts that now keep us small and comfortable. That’s why anytime I hear a dream, struggle, victory story I can’t wait to share it. These types of stories inspire us to get out of our comfort zones in order to achieve our own victories in life.
Meet Diana Nyad, a 64 year old world record long-distance swimmer, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the protection of a shark cage. Her dream dates back 36 years when she first attempted this milestone at the age of 28. After four previous failed attempts, Diana accomplished her dream in her 5th and final attempt at 1:55pm on Monday, September 2nd, 2013 after 53 grueling hours and swimming a distance of 110 miles.
As I was reading her story I couldn’t help but be inspired. Diana had achieved success in many areas of her life but always paid a price. In her most recent accomplishment – swimming from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64, it was not uncommon for her to clock 10 or 15 hour swims just for training. And a week before she made the treacherous 53 hour swim, Diana completed a 24 hour ocean swim to train for the following weeks’ event. Just imagine the conditions she had to face: sharks, salt water, jellyfish, wind, currents, waves, heat, exhaustion, dehydration, cramping, 2.5 days of no sleep, little food, etc. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it!
Now imagine what 53 hours looks like: the average work week plus overtime, watching an average of 26 movies back to back, the time it takes to drive clear across the country from Los Angeles, California to Banger, Maine at 65 mph without stopping or listening to over 100 LIFE leadership audios.
Diana’s journey began on Saturday, Aug 31st early in the morning and when most people were packing up their cars to go out of town for the Labor Day weekend, she was beginning a 110 mile swim across the ocean. Please take a moment to watch the interview conducted by ABC news less than 24 hours after she completed the swim:
Diana’s dream, struggle, victory story largely inspires me to eliminate any and all excuses to accomplish my own dreams and goals. LIFE leadership has taught me many lessons in order to persist through struggles to achieve a victory. Here are just a few that Diana displayed:
1) Courage – Most people give up on their dreams because of fear. It takes courage to be a dreamer. Big dreamers face an endless amount of criticism, failure and obstacles on their way to victory. Without courage most people will give-in to fear long before they ever reach the finish line.
2) Perseverance - Anyone courageous enough to chase their dreams will have to learn to persevere through the struggle. In Diana’s first four attempts she faced jellyfish stings, harsh weather conditions and airway and breathing challenges. All of which threatened her life. But did that stop her? Absolutely not! She had the courage to beat the odds and persevere through the most difficult circumstances imaginable. Diana stated in her interview, “many people quit on their dream to soon.” Perseverance says, ‘quitting is not an option.’
3) Will to Win – Those who are courageous enough to persevere through all opposition to accomplish their dreams will internally develop a ‘will to win.’ Diana used the mantra, “find a way.” Meaning that she was willing to win even if it meant sacrificing her life. She found a way to protect herself from jellyfish using a protective mask and body-suit, she had a team of over 25 people including her physician as back up and navigation to reach her destination, she hired scientific oceanographers to study the ocean so she was swimming during the safest possible conditions. Now, unlike Diana, most people’s dreams aren’t life threatening. But I believe that it takes Diana’s type of strong will to win in life in order to accomplish one’s dreams.
Never stop believing in your ability to reach new heights. God has designed each of us in such a way that no dream is impossible to achieve. Dream, believe and unlock all your doors to a better future. As George Guzzardo often asks, “do you have the courage to dream?” Call forth your inner childlike spirit and get reacquainted with the fearlessness and unstoppable ambition you once had. Anything is within your grasp, you just have to have the audacity to find a way!
To learn more about Diana Nyad and her Extreme Dream visit: www.diananyad.com