Diana Nyad | On Inspiration, Motivation and the Drive to Succeed

We, at MyFitnessPal, love celebrating groundbreakers — those who pave the way for others to rise and achieve their wildest dreams and loftiest goals. We’ve asked history-making marathon swimmer and activist, Diana Nyad — who at age 64 was the first confirmed person without the protection of a shark cage to swim from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida, in 2013 and then at age 67 embarked on a series of 140 mile walks for her new cause EverWalk — to share her journey, inspiration and driving forces. We hope this inspires you and hope you’ll share your story below.

1. Who/what inspires you to be unlike any? What’s the driving factor that fuels your motivation?

Nyad: My direct, conscious goal is not to be better than others. My intense focus is to be my best self. If that self winds up being interpreted as “unlike any other,” so be it. It may be counterintuitive to the concept of rising to the top of a human chain of achievement, but it sometimes winds up that my letting something go takes more courage and fulfills my vision of always being my best self more than my plodding ahead. Lately, I relinquished my position as screenwriter of my life story. I was hired to write the script. All parties involved felt I am a writer and storyteller and, although a novice to the genre of the screenplay, I could produce the best script. After a year, it took more strength for me to admit it is a very special and specific genre and would take me a few years to become competent, much less artful, at the genre and so I rose to the occasion and turned it over to a seasoned screenwriter. That was my best self, making the right decision for the project. The people who I admire are those who are authentic to their vision, despite the practical or public obstacles of their journeys.

My intense focus is to be my best self.

Right now I am fully committed to a vision of getting Americans out of their cars, away from their screens and into walking. My Cuba swim expedition leader Bonnie Stoll and I have launched an initiative called EverWalk. We are leading Epic walks, 140 miles each, along the stunning corridors of America. Our latest walk took us from Boston to Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It takes chutzpah to launch a movement but here we are, dreaming big, launching a movement.

2. What makes you leap out of bed every day?

Nyad: I am perpetually pushed by the loud, unwavering ticking of the clock. From childhood, I have felt the daily pressure of time screeching by, of the choking brevity of this precious life each of us gets to live. Of the 7 billion people now on planet earth, half have very little. Little clean water, food, safety. The other half of us have varying degrees of liberty and the privilege of pursuit of happiness. I am overwhelmed with my own degree of privilege, and I simply refuse to let any day go by without bounding out of bed and grasping the chaos with every fiber of my potential. I may fail. I often do. But I crash to the pillow each night with a deep sigh of relief, entirely sure I could not have given any more to any moment of that day.

3. What was your lowest moment that ended up launching you to your success?

Nyad: Lowest moment. I guess now, at age 68, I have a better perspective on the ebbs and flows of life’s highs and lows. It’s not a linear journey for any of us. It’s not that there was once a low and since then there’s been a direct line upward. While I would never call my childhood tragic, in light of the devastating poverty and abuse that millions of children are subjected to, it was a time fraught with fear of the two men who sexually abused me. I suppose I could say, looking back after all these years, that I built myself a suit of armour as a young person. I pretty much screamed that I was coming through and you better get out of my way. But, truth be told, I think I was that strong, determined individual in the first place. Years later, I still harbor that ferocity, but I have also found grace and compassion for others. There is no doubt that this time, right now, age 68, is the prime of my life.


4. Does this pivotal moment still impact your present?

Nyad: Again, I don’t think people “pivot” at particular moments. Perhaps there are literal traumatic events that catapult people into change. But I find more often that we grow and expand in our thinking, our courage in waves, making our way and then regressing a step or two, making our way onward again.

… it’s tenacity that takes us up and up toward our loftiest inspirations.

5. What’s your mantra?

Nyad: An artist friend recently made me a beautiful orange neon sign. I keep in it my gym, turn it on at dawn every day. It says PERSIST. My several mantras throughout my life have always expressed the drive to get back up after we’ve been knocked down. In every area of success and dream chasing, we all need talent and hard work and teammates and connections. But, above all that — and every successful person from every walk of life has expressed it in his or her own words — it’s tenacity that takes us up and up toward our loftiest inspirations. My mantras:

Find a way.
Never ever give up.
You’re never too old to chase your dreams.


Let’s continue to shed light on our successes, recognizing that it’s the culmination of stamina, perseverance and grit to get here. Please share yours in the comments below.


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Natasha Hastings, World Champion Sprinter

The post Diana Nyad | On Inspiration, Motivation and the Drive to Succeed appeared first on Under Armour.

(via MyFitnessPal Blog)

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