Diana nyad never ever give up
Diana nyad never ever give up
Diana nyad never ever give up
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By SafetyCulture Team   |  
September 14th, 2021

Never Ever Give Up: 5 Tips from World Champion Athlete Diana Nyad on Endurance and Triumph

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Diana Nyad was the first person to achieve the extraordinary – to swim over 110 miles from Cuba to Florida. 25 million people worldwide rooted for Diana Nyad as she approached Florida’s shores, at long last achieving what she’d dreamed of for 35 years.

It was her fifth attempt, speaking the words “Never Ever Give Up” to the wildly cheering crowd on Key West beach on September 2, 2013.

Diana may have been physically exhausted, but over 52 hours, 54 minutes, 18 seconds, she showed the world what persistence and bold spirit can manifest. 

From Cuba to Florida

The swim from Cuba to Florida prompted a worldwide response from millions – including personal messages from President Obama and Hillary Clinton who felt their own lives lifted with Diana’s “Find a Way” philosophy. By demonstrating courage, bold vision, and the ability to articulate her philosophies, have propelled Diana through an inspiring life.

Diana will share her experiences and philosophy at the SafetyCulture Summit 2021: Made Extraordinary, a free 2-day event set to inspire working teams around the world.

So how did Diana achieve the extraordinary? Read on to learn about her five tips for success, and how to never ever give up.

Tip 1: Be Bold and Dream Audacious Dreams

As leaders, there’s ample opportunity to feel disheartened through the ups and downs of business and entrepreneurship. We all know that quitting is easy – and if we followed through with every bad feeling, we would never fully realize the potential that’s ahead. Nyad embraced the concept of turmoil and used it as an opportunity to be bold and face her fears. She believes that perseverance is a great human quality, and through sheer determination, you can reach your goals – even at the age of 64, like she did. All you need to do is dream audacious dreams and be bold enough to follow them through. 

“I just didn’t want to have any regrets. I kept on thinking about all the things in my life I could have done differently. My mother had died at 82 and I realized I might only have 22 years left and I just wanted to make sure I really lived them.”​​– Diana Nyad

Tip 2: Find a Way— Be Creative, Be Persistent


More often than not, achieving the extraordinary starts with discomfort. Being able to do something that is difficult, uncertain, or out of your comfort zone can be nerve-wracking.  Especially for open-water swimmers, in an environment of extreme sensory deprivation, this is taken to a whole other level. They must be able to control their minds — after all, it’s one of the few things within their control, unlike the weather, the currents or the sharks and jellyfish lurking beneath the surface. 

How can we take this mindset into our organization? 

“Find a way — be creative, be persistent” was Diana Nyad’s mantra as she swam from Cuba to Florida. Her mission was crystal clear and that meant that even despite pain and uncertainty, her focus was on the end goal. We can apply this to our lives and in the workplace as well. Have clarity of your goal and develop a “strong belief in yourself and your ability” to work through the pain. With a bit of grit and a bit of creativity, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Remember this the next time your operations hit a brick wall. 

Tip 3: You’re Never Too Old—nor Too Young—to Chase Your Dreams

To Diana, age is irrelevant when it comes to success. She first started her record-breaking attempt at the age of 28, but it took until she was 64 to achieve her coveted mission.

Did the cultural expectations of age affect her ability to stay focused? No. Did her physiological limitations due to her age let her ability to persevere? No. Instead, Diana has a refreshing approach: “I have no idea what age I am. I don’t feel different in any way. People say, ‘Maybe you should take more recovery time between swims because of your age.’ I’m like, ‘Oh. My age. I forgot.”

Achieving world-renowned success at the age of 64 goes to show you’re never too old to achieve your dreams. Or get a tweet mention from Obama.

Tip 4: Every Solitary Endeavor Takes a Team to Succeed

Of course, no man or woman is an island. And this is also the case when it comes to record-breaking success – Diana champions the power of teamwork. 

Despite what one may think, to Diana, marathon swimming is very much a team effort. For her most recent attempt, she had an entire team of 35 people, among them a doctor, a navigator, and shark and jellyfish experts, everyone dispersed on five boats. With a clear solid goal, her team was able to figure out a perfect route to take advantage of Gulf Stream currents – something that younger and stronger swimmers could not manage to do. 

When you’re clear on your goal and why you want it, don’t forget that you can have a whole army to help figure out different solutions and paths to how to get there, especially when “you are left alone with your thoughts in a much more severe way.”

Tip 5: Never Ever Give Up—When You Get Knocked Down, Get Back Up!

On her fifth attempt, Diana did the extraordinary. Not her fourth, nor her third, nor her second attempt. Her fifth attempt got her the coveted title of becoming the first person in history to have swum from Cuba to Florida, without the aid of a shark cage, all at the age of 64.

During her previous attempts, she was hauled out of the water due to multiple jellyfish stings, asthma attacks, and respiratory distress. But instead of letting this deter her, she used this as feedback data to help improve her efforts. It was years of failed attempts that helped correct her course. 

So you can imagine her elation when she had finally made it. But Nyad also remembers what the crowd’s reaction was:  “I remember coming out and seeing the faces of the crowd on the beach just so emotionally wrought. I realized afterwards, they weren’t weeping because somebody finally made it or somebody set some sports record. They were weeping because they saw someone who refused to give up.”

Her advice to leaders and teams? Never Give Up.

Want to hear Diana’s incredible story and propel your business forward? Made Extraordinary is your launchpad to level up. Reserve your FREE seat today.

About SafetyCulture Summit 2021: Made Extraordinary
Made Extraordinary brings together leaders, trailblazers and experts for two days of inspiration, industry insights, keynote sessions, and professional development. Learn how everyday teams and organizations can achieve extraordinary outcomes through great teamwork. Join Made Extraordinary physically at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, stream live from anywhere in the world, and catch up on demand in the weeks following the event.

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