Tag Archives: Diana Nyad

Are You Not Entertained: The Amazing Feats of Human Potential

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.

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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.

Thirty-Five Years Later… A Dream is Realized

In 1978, a young woman stood on the shores of Havana, Cuba, and set out to fulfill her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida — a 110-mile journey that includes sharks and plenty of jellyfish. The young woman wouldn’t succeed in her attempt that day. Nor would she succeed on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th tries. In 1978, there’s no way that she could have known that she wouldn’t have succeeded that day or that she wouldn’t have succeeded on three subsequent tries. Yesterday, however, on her 5th try, Diana Nyad successfully swam from Havana to Key West.

By now, no doubt, you would have heard of this incredible story. A triumph of perseverance and dedication. She had a goal and she wasn’t going to let anything keep her from it. It’s absolutely incredible that she first began this goal over 35 (!) years ago. Many of you out there probably can’t remember the goals you set 10 years ago, much less 35!

One of the most striking things I found about this story was how much has changed. For instance, when Nyad first stepped into the water in Havana to achieve her goal, she probably wouldn’t have guessed that the ‘achievement’ wouldn’t have happened for 35 years. Nor would I imagine that she would have guessed that her name and her story would have been trending on Twitter (what’s that, by the way?) or something called the internet. 1978. In 1978, there wasn’t even a Commodore 64, yet!

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You’ve probably got some lofty goals. You probably hope to achieve them soon — great! Nyad’s story is a perfect example of why you needn’t give up on your dreams. If you’re looking for some inspiration, she’s certainly got a bucket full.

If you enjoyed this story, you’re probably also going to want to hear Nyad speak after she completes this 110-mile journey. You can see what she said on the last video at this link (Sorry, couldn’t embed it!)

Note: I thought I had embedded a video from ABC, but it turns out that the embedded code didn’t agree with WordPress. You can view the video that I tried to embed at the link above.