Yesterday, I was watching Diana Nyad’s press conference and it got me thinking about human potential. Not just human potential, but demonstrated human potential.
Over 50 years ago, Sir Roger Bannister busted all previously held illusions about human potential by running one mile in less than 4 minutes. Today, the world record sits at almost 20 seconds better than what Bannister ran on that fateful day in May. The day before yesterday, Diana Nyad swam — yes, swam — from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, (which from the way she describes it, is a really big deal). A little over a year ago, James Cameron went deeper in the ocean than any other human has ever been. This past October, Felix Baumgartner reached the top of the sky when he jumped out of a capsule almost 40km up (into the stratosphere)! How about William Trubridge who, in 2011, set the world record for “free immersion” diving, [underwater without the use of propulsion], by going to a depth of 121 meters. Or maybe Dashrath Manjhi, commonly referred to as “Mountain Man,” who didn’t want anyone else in his village to die because a doctor was too far away, so he carved a path through a mountain. It took him 22 years.
I think at times — especially like these — it’s important to reflect on the amazing feats that humans can achieve when we put our minds to it.
These are just a few “recent” examples (and one not so recent). We could also pull up other examples from history. A common one is JFK exclaiming that he wanted to put a man on the moon before the end of the 60s — check. At the time, that was an unbelievable goal. It certainly helped that there were political implications to this goal, but nonetheless, humans did it. If we want to go back a little bit into history, we can think about Joshua Slocum who was the first person to single-handedly sail around the world.
Is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing, but were too afraid to really get into it? People like Felix Baumgartner, Diana Nyad, James Cameron, and Sir Roger Bannister, I hope, can give you the motivation and the confidence you need to venture out to pursue that audacious goal. If there’s something that you dream of, believe that you can do it. Believe that you have the willpower and you will find a way to make it.
If you’re looking for a good place to start on your dreams, I highly recommend the idea of macro goals and micro quotas. It certainly seems to work for some folks who are achieving their dreams. Maybe it can work for you, too.