Find a Way by Diana Nyad, who was the first person to successfully swim from Cuba to Florida. In her 20s Nyad attempted the swim but failed. Then she didn't swim at all for 30 years. But she knew in her heart she could do it, and she did — in 53 hours of non-stop swimming, at the age of 64.
swimming long distances is so challenging and requires so much
dedication, what the swimmer does in her mind makes all the difference.
And in much of the book, Nyad describes what she does mentally.
has been gaining a lot of value from these descriptions, and I've been
gaining a lot from Klassy sharing it with me. Three principles in
particular have been very useful for both of us, and I'd like to share
them with you here.
1. Engagement or escape. That's all
there is. This simple distinction has clarified so many things. Where
you are alive is where you are engaged. If you want to feel alive, if
you want to solve a problem, if you want to achieve a goal, engagement
is what you're after. What gets in your way is escape.
Exercise your willpower, just like you would a muscle. Willpower is not
binary. It's not on or off. You can have degrees of it, and you can
improve it. When you look at the chocolate in the cupboard and you want
to have some, you don't only have a choice between having it or not
having it. Another choice is to exercise a little willpower to make
yourself stronger. See if you can put off having the chocolate for five
minutes. You'll be surprised at how little effort it takes to exercise
your willpower, and how good it feels to do it. And it strengthens you
for the next challenge. Exercising your will this way doesn't require
force. It's more like a question or an experiment.
If your heart isn't in it, don't bother. This is always a question to
ask and to answer honestly. Find a way to either find out that you
really want something, or find a way to do something else instead. Nyad
lives by a quote from Mary Wilder: "What is it you plan to do with your
one wild and precious life?" It's easy to forget that life is short and
if you're going to do something, you'd better get at it and make it
count. In the end, heart is all that matters.
Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot.