Diana Nyad

Diana Nyad

*Many have said it takes years and years to become an overnight sensation. Such is the case with Diana Nyad.

The 64-year-old endurance swimmer emerged dazed, sunburned, and in one piece from the surf on Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida just before 2 p.m. on Labor Day Monday after nearly 53 hours in the ocean. It was a two-day, two-night swim from her starting point in Havana, Cuba. She had survived the treacherous Florida Straits – a notorious stretch of water brimming with sharks, jellyfish, squalls and an unpredictable Gulf Stream – to  become the first person to do so unaided by the protection of a shark cage.

Ms. Nyad’s success was built upon her failures — the first in 1978, when she was 28, and the most recent last year at age 62. After each attempt, she improvised, learned what to adjust, whom to consult and which new protective protocol to consider.

She was successful after her fifth attempt, coming after four years of grueling training, precision planning and single-minded determination. Her face scorched and puffy from so many hours in the salt water, she leaned on one of her friends and said from the beach:

“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 takes a team.”

While Ms. Nyad suddenly has become today’s ‘overnight sensation’ after 35 years of trying, here are a few other historical figures who fit the mold:

Walt Disney: The man who gave us Disneyland and Mickey Mouse. His first animation company went bankrupt. He was fired by a news editor because he ‘lacked imagination.’ Legend has it he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disneyland.

Albert Einstein: He didn’t speak until he was four and didn’t read until seven. His parents and teachers thought he was mentally handicapped. He only turned out to win the Nobel Peace prize and be the face of modern physics.

Michael Jordan: He was reportedly cut from his high school basketball team. He turned out to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time who never let failure deter him. He’s quoted as saying: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Thomas Edison: No list of success from failures would be complete without the man who gave us many inventions including the light bulb. He knew failure wouldn’t stop him. He said, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela: The South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who was imprisoned nearly 30 years before becoming President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 said, “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

There is no success without failure!
Decide what is important to you and stay focused everyday though it may seem things are not working out. Success doesn’t happen without failure, and doesn’t happen overnight. That’s reality!