Brand building through storytelling

The prime of Diana Nyad

I shudder at the thought of a 103-mile ocean swim with sharks for company and no shark cage, but when Diana Nyad made it her mission, I wanted to shout, “Go, Diana!.” Nyad is exactly my age, almost 62. She was speaking for me when she said, “I want the candle to burn bright…Our parents’ generation, at 60 they considered that old age. I’m in the middle of middle age.”

This would not be her first attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West. The same waters had defeated her at age 28, but she said she had never felt stronger (no idle boast: she holds the world record for longest ocean swim). So she had cleaned out her bank account to take another shot at the dream of her youth before she was well and truly old. My notion of swimming is a leisurely sidestroke in a pool just big enough for an aquafit class, but I know how it feels to look back through the decades and ask, “What if…?” Nyad was not about to face that question, and I loved her passionate resolve.

Today I love this broad-shouldered, big-hearted woman more than ever, but for different reasons. For her graceful acceptance of the sheer bad luck–first an asthma attack, then excruciating shoulder pain–that ended her swim after 29 hours (no, she won’t be trying again). For her dignity in the face of monumental disappointment. And above all for her wisdom. “I couldn’t be my best swimmer,” she told CNN. “That hurt my pride, but I was the best person I could be. I dug down, I dug deep.”

I’d been counting on her to prove that you’re never too old to score the success of a lifetime. Instead she proved that there’s more to success than achieving the vision in your head. I’ll keep that in mind next time I shy away from a goal that looks too daunting. Failure isn’t missing the mark with your best effort; it’s not digging down and digging deep.

Just before Diana Nyad started swimming toward Florida, she played reveille on a bugle (another thing I love her for–that sense of ceremony). Then she said, “I’m standing here at the prime of my life.” She’ll be there for a while yet. Go, Diana! I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Click here for my take on another inspiring woman, the late Dr.Jerri Nielsen.

Posted by Rona

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