own other shoreI’ve watched several interviews of Diana Nyad in the past year and have each time stepped away awe-inspired.  She has a strong sense of who she is and what she wants to accomplish in this world. And, as I’m sure you know, she met her lifelong goal of being the first to swim from Cuba to the U.S. in Sept. 2013. What a woman – one of this world’s champion goal-getters!

For those of us striving to be the best person we can possibly be, there are lessons to be gleaned from the way  Nyad approaches life and her goals.  Here are some take-aways from listening in to her last few interviews:

1.) Strong Awareness of Her Time on Earth – One of the most prominent messages I got from a recent interview of Diana on Oprah’s OWN channel was that she has always had a strong sense of how much time she has left on the planet and has always felt an urgency to fill the time with meaning.

She read Oprah an essay she had written as a 10-year-old that her 5th grade teacher had saved.  In it you can tell she was mentally calculating how much time she had left and all the things she hoped to accomplish. She detailed how her mom had told her that her father had passed at 79 and after mental gyrations regarding the life span of other relatives she calculated that she would probably live to be 80. She concluded her 10-year-old essay by saying “I probably have 70 more years and it will probably go fast.” Pretty extraordinary thinking for a 10-year-old!

Nyad said she has always felt the clock ticking. When she turned 60, her mom passed away at age 82. She remembered thinking “I have 22 more years.” And, her goal to swim from Cuba kicked in once again, despite having attempted the feat 4 other times, suffering painful jellyfish stings, harsh weather conditions and heartbreaking disappointment. She decided at age 60 to train for and attempt what many felt was an impossible feat for anyone of any age.

2.) Driven with a Mantra – Nyad evidently is big on positive self-talk. She said her mantra the year of her huge triumph was “Find a way.”

3.) Clear Vision of Who She Wants to Be – Nyad says the swim was never about the swim. “It was about my values,” she said. It was about who she wanted to be in the world, aligning with authentic self.

4.) Unwavering Commitment to Her Goals – In a snippet of an interview of a youngish Nyad  (she appeared to be in her twenties), with intensely serious eyes she said she had an unwavering relationship with her goals. I guess you would have to see it to feel the gravity of the statement, but it was evident from the look on her face that she is one that is vehemently committed to her vision.

5.) Listened to Inner Voice – After Nyad decided to retire from swimming when she was 30 years old, she said the goal wasn’t nagging or ever present, as she was busy with a career as a successful sports commentator. But, she said it was more like a whisper in the back of her mind. She had a calling and when she turned 60 she could no longer ignore that inner voice.

6.) Focused on the Now – Nyad says she feels she wasted a lot of time early on with regret about the past and worrying about the future. In her later years, she gave that up. In present years, she says her focus is to be in the now – “be the best of your self in this moment.”

Dazed, exhausted and swollen from salt water intake, Nyad successfully accomplished her long-held dream of swimming the ocean from Cuba and walked up onto the U.S. shore on Sept. 2, 2013. It was her 5th attempt in 35 years and she had done it at the age of 64. She raised her weary arms into the air and pumped her fist to cheers from the adoring crowd and gave three impromptu pieces of advice, “One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team,” she said. That’s the words of a champion goal-getter!

Blessings and may you have the fortitude to see all your dreams come to fruition!
Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach