I was inspired to write this post the other day after seeing all the news coverage on Diana Nyad‘s story of swimming from Cuba to Florida (103 miles!) in over 50 hours. For those of you who don’t know, Diana Nyad is a 64 year old (yes, 64!) woman who successfully completed the swim AFTER HER 5th TRY! Everything about this story is unreal. Not only is this a lesson of strength and endurance, but of resilience. Think about how much energy it takes after each subsequent try to get back and try swimming across the Atlantic. Think about this not just from the physical aspect of it, but from the psychological aspect of being able to stand up and to think that for the next 50+ hours I’m going to be in the water swimming. If this isn’t “mind over matter,” I don’t know what is.
What was so interesting to me was seeing this onslaught of media covering this event. It felt like it came out of nowhere – and then I found out that she had actually been swimming for 50 hours prior to when I was watching. It received such minimal press coverage until the very end. Then I realized how often this actually happens whether you’re famous or not. Sometimes when we start something or do something we’re really passionate about, there is a fear (click here for post on fear) that can kick in, and it is in those moments of validation and support of others that pushes us to keep going. It gives us that adrenaline rush we sometimes need. However, in pursuit of our dreams, we usually have a quieter start just like Diana Nyad’s journey. You have to do the work first. You have to prove yourself. You have to put in the hours. I mean think about it, if everyone who had a dream, received news coverage, there wouldn’t be much room for other news. You have to work for it!
This concept reminds me of what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book, The Outliers, which I’m sure many of you had to read in school. He has something called the “10,000 hour rule.” This basically means that the key to success in any field is practicing that specific task for at least 10,000 hours. Those who achieve things as Diana did, most certainly, put in the hours. Gladwell also uses Bill Gates and The Beatles as people who put in the hours. You don’t get to be someone of great talent and success without putting in the work.
For Diana, the reward came after over 52 hours of swimming. Nyad waded through the Atlantic, and as she got closer and closer to her dream coming true, the news coverage increased more and more. I just thought about the parallel between this and our everyday lives and to all those who put in the hours. We all have certain things we want to accomplish and dreams we want, but there isn’t always a pomp and circumstance to get our feet on the ground to get the ball rolling on whatever it is we want to do. Sometimes we just have to start it and do it. And just keep doing it. Then as we inch closer and closer, we’ll start to feel momentum come and we start to gain some traction in terms of where you’re going. As we do this, we get better at what we’re doing and people may take notice. The goal is not to get people to notice, but if you do something and you’re that great at it, people can’t help but notice. They’ll say: Who is that person? How do they do that? How do they do _______ so well? It reminds me of what Will Smith said in an interview recently:
Fame is almost an inconsequential by-product of what we’re really trying to accomplish. We are trying to put great things into the world, we’re trying to have fun, and we’re trying to become the greatest versions of ourselves in the process of doing things we love.
It may not always start out smooth and you may not get there the first time (it took Nyad 5 tries), but the joy is meant to be in the persistence of working for something you’re passionate about…whatever that may be. The joy is meant to come from pursuing something that is bigger than the nuances of your everyday life and knowing that every action you take is consistent with a greater goal you’re in pursuit of. You may not, and probably will not, have everyone on the sidelines cheering you on and if you fail, that crowd may decrease, but remember, it is in the pursuit that you will find the joy that you seek. Just look at Diana the next time you get down that something didn’t work out the way you hoped. Another opportunity may already be prepping for your arrival, so stay ready for it! I’ll leave you with the mantra Diana said she used throughout her swim in an interview after her swim:
Find a way.
Share your thoughts: What are the barriers keeping your desires at bay in your own life? What choices will you commit to making that are based on your values and desires for yourself? What are you passionate about?
Related article: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
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Categories: Blogs by Rubin