What Dianne Nyad Taught Me About Discouragement

Dianne Nyad
Dianne Nyad

What Dianne Nyad Taught Me About Discouragement

After each of her failed attempts, she climbed onto the boat disheartened and vowed it would be her last.  After another unsuccessful try in 2011, she said:  “It was a fairy tale, but the fairy tale didn’t come true”.

Do you know who said that?  Dianne Nyad.

Yes.  The same 64-year old Dianne Nyad, who completed her successful swim from Cuba to Florida in September this year.  On her fifth attempt.

When I ran across this NY Times story, I had to stop and re-read the paragraph.  I thought perhaps someone else in her team said it – not her.

Because you’d expect everything written about her following this major accomplishment to be all about perseverance, and never quitting, and keeping the dream alive.

And all of those are true.  In fact, the first thing she said after completing the swim was…“I have three messages. 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.

But I loved reading that she got disheartened along the way too.

That when she failed in the past, she wasn’t immune to feeling dejected and hopeless, and to thinking perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

And doesn’t it deliver more of punch reading this after she succeeded?

It meant she got back on the saddle (or in this case, back into the water).

It meant she acknowledged her feelings and then got right back on pursuing her dream.

It meant her spirit DID break after the failures, BUT she nursed it back up.

To me that’s real.

We all get discouraged when we fall down.  There were times when I’ve wanted to crawl under the covers and quit.  Never try again.

Some of us feel embarrassed for feeling that way.  But, it’s normal to be down after a failure.  It’s part of putting ourselves on the line in pursuit of something that holds our passion.

It’s okay to acknowledge we are hurt.   It’s okay to say “I quit!”

But here’s where the rubber meets the road:   The day, or the week, or the month even, after all the wallowing – do we get up, fix ourselves, and say “Okay, enough of that.  Here we go again.”

Because that’s when it becomes real.

That’s when the fire in the belly or the vision in the head, pushes us to overcome the pain of failing and to try again.

That’s when we earn the right to say what Dianne Nyad said:  ”We should never, ever give up.  You never are too old to chase your dreams.”

What about you?

Have you ever felt so discouraged after failing on something you hold so important?  Did you wallow or did you get right back on it?  How did you recover from the disappointment?

A version of this story appeared earlier in Workxycodone. 

Lou Blaser explores and writes about our pursuit of achievement and balance in our work + life.  Visit her at www.workxycodone.com


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