Once in a while you read about a person’s overwhelming feat and you start to ponder what motivated that person to attempt such an endeavor. On September 2, 2013, Diana Nyad successfully completed what she had attempted four times in the past, and no one has ever done before (though many have tried). A mind bending swim from Habana, Cuba to Key West. A 110 mile journey that tested her will, risked her life, but most importantly, made her a legend and inspiration for generations to come.
For her demeanor to complete a task, no matter how impossible it might seem, Diana Nyad inspires me to continue to push myself to achieve great things that may seem impossible to many.
It was November 1990. I had just returned from an important regional swimming competition, in Mexico. Although what had just transpired defined my high school years as an athlete, it was time to move on; I had to go to college.
All my years as an athlete made me a disciplined person, but what was required of me to survive in a country outside the safety net of my homeland was something entirely different. I had to learn to become an adult to be able to get things done.
When I arrived at my alma matter, Florida Atlantic University, I was young and full of dreams, but no life experience to my credit. Up until the day I departed my parents’ home, I always relied on their advice and protection to take the right steps forward. In June 1992, that was no longer the case.
Many were the lessons learned upon my arrival and during the course of my freshman year in college, but the most profound ones were those in persistence.
Here’s a rundown on those lessons:
1. Always set priorities and adhere them to a schedule.
Jolt down the top 5 priorities you absolutely, positively must get done. Without this step it will become next to impossible to stay on track regarding what’s most important. As time elapses, revisit you schedule to revise if everything on your list of priorities can still be categorized as a one.
2. Hangout with people that will add value to your life.
In my case, as a student athlete there wasn’t much time available outside studying and swimming. When I could squeeze a bit of time to off, I always made sure that time was spent with people that I’d look up to or that could make my tenure at school a better experience. At this juncture in your journey, it’s imperative you learn how to accept criticism without taking it personally.
3. Learn, learn, learn, then, learn some more.
Your education should never be something you do or did at school. You should always be learning how to become more efficient on all things related to the task at hand. This will become one of the most coveted skills you’ll need as you start a business or embark on a career.
4. Pamper yourself when you deserve it.
After a good test result or great performance at a swim meet, I always made time to celebrate with those who I considered important to me. Celebrating the small wins is essential to staying on track, and sharing that time with friends will make that experience so much sweeter.
5. Set short, mid and long term goals.
Don’t limit yourself to goals a few days or weeks away. Do make sure those milestones are aligned with your mid and long term goals. They should become the steps on your ladder to the successful achievement of the ultimate goal. Revisit all of them frequently, to make sure you’re “navigating” according to plan. This is another one of the handy skills you’d need to hone as you travel through life.
One final note.
It’s important to consider that as blessed as I was to have studied abroad, I was entirely responsible for opening up those doors. Without a relentless work ethic and demanding goals I would have never embarked on a journey that took me north and south through the entire American continent and that aided in making me the father, husband and professional I am today.