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Harley Pasternak: 3 Things Everyone Can Learn From Diana Nyad

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Lou Rocco/ABC/Getty; Ramon Espinosa/AP

I like to swim. It’s a great form of exercise, it’s easy on the joints, and a way to get some fresh air. I try to swim for 20 to 30 minutes when I get the opportunity. Afterwards, I’m physically exhausted!

Diana Nyad also likes to swim. On Monday, she swam from Cuba to Miami. It took her 53 hours (or 3,180 minutes) to swim 110 miles in open ocean water that was loaded with sharks, jellyfish and giant waves.

Oh, and did I mention, Diana is in her mid-60s?

Needless to say, Diana and I don’t have too much in common when it comes to our swimming prowess. Come to think of it, I doubt anyone really comes close to Diana when it comes to swimming endurance. But we can all definitely learn a lot from her. According to Diana, there are three key things we should all take away from her recent accomplishment.

1. Never Give Up!

Diana’s successful Cuba to Miami swim came after almost 40 years of attempts that, for a variety of reasons (weather, jellyfish, etc.) fell short. In fact, her first attempt was in 1978, when she was only 28 years old. I, for one, would never have tried to swim from country to country in the first place, and I surely wouldn’t have tried it more than once after nearly drowning during the first attempt. Diana gave it five tries.

For those of you who have tried to achieve a goal – lose weight, run a mile, surf – and failed, don’t give up. Every moment that passes, is another moment you can turn it all around.

2. You’re Never Too Old To Chase Your Dreams

If I had a penny for every time a client tried to use age as a reason why they couldn’t do an exercise or achieve a higher level of fitness, I’d have a lot of pennies.

Diana Nyad is old enough to be my mother, and she just swam 110 straight miles.

I’ve had many ageless clients over the years that only seem to get better and better with age. To name just a few: Jeff Goldblum, 60; Al Pacino, 73; and Jane Fonda, 75. None of these people use age as an excuse to live a less vibrant life, and neither should you!

3. No Accomplishment Is Solitary, It Takes a Team to Succeed

Diana had a team of 35 people who helped her plan and execute her historic swim. She had a team of shark divers who carried special zappers to ward off anything with jagged teeth, someone to cue her music, someone to feed her, and even a pulmonologist. The point being, without her team, she probably couldn’t have succeeded.

The same applies to anything you want to achieve. Surrounding yourself with the right team can make the difference between success and failure. That could mean aligning with a gym buddy or coach, online diet and fitness communities or starting a walking group in your office or neighborhood. The options are endless – just remember there is strength in numbers.

What’s the greatest lesson you learned from achieving a goal or failing in the process? Tweet me @harleypasternak.

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