Lessons for Success in Every Stroke

I just had a chance to watch NYAD. On her fifth try, 64-year-old Diana Nyad swam 110 miles from Havana to Key West. It has never been done before. As an athlete, I related to all those things she went through; however, I find them universal for every leader. They have a lot to do with how to live a purposeful life, set goals, stay consistent, build teams, and never give up.

Here are 9 of the most powerful self-leadership lessons inspired by the movie.

Life satisfaction

If you told your 15-year-old self about the life you are living now, what would that 15-year-old say?

Think about it.

You only have one life to live. Use your heart beats wisely.

Setting Audacious Goals

Self-leadership is about choosing summits that inspire, challenge, and ignite audacious aspirations.

We are not made to never fight or never hunt. There is still a part of us that seeks adventure, danger. A fight to reach the goal that feels unreal, a process of doing, working towards it will make you feel you are living a fulfilled life.

Everyone gets a chance to achieve something. Try.

Mental Toughness

I can find a thousand people who won once.

But there are very few people who can win again and again over time and become sustainable champions.

Be better every day and do it for a long time. This is the way of the winner.

Dealing With Fear

Fear is the emotion of ignorance. We are afraid of something we don’t know.

So you don’t need to fight fear, you go to the source and fight ignorance instead – with information.

Obtaining the actual knowledge that gets to explain what’s happening will eliminate fear; guessing and overthinking will enhance it.

Persistence Amidst Failures

You failed. Your business went bust. Everything stopped working.

You can take a bath with a toaster. Or, you can get up and try again.

Imagine if a center forward failed to score several times, and instead of continuing to play, he would sit down and cry.

Don’t be a crying center forward. Start again.

Team Collaboration

Can the champion Formula One driver win with a subpar team?

Research from the universities of Harvard, Sheffield, Bristol, and Aarhus shows that the performance of about two-thirds of all Formula One teams remains constant. Researchers have attributed 86% of the relative differences in drivers’ performance to the effectiveness of their teams.

The answer is No.

Learning from Setbacks

When you keep making the same mistake, you get apathy and depression.

When you consciously change your scenario and make new mistakes, you get curious and full of determination to find a solution.


Inspiring Others

Leaders don’t climb existing ladders. They build their own.

For many people around you, it is an opportunity to live their greatest life through someone else’s purpose (yours).

“The only way I am going to get that magic is through her. How many more chances are we going to get to do heart-pumping s**t, huh?” Bonnie Stoll, Nyad’s coach.

If you are that leader, you are now responsible for the people who chose to participate in your personal life show.

Follow the rules

Nyad’s record was never formally acknowledged by the governing organization.

Of course, she was mostly driven by her intrinsic desire to complete the swim.

But after the high ends and reality kicks back in, you realize we still live in the real world. And reality has bureaucracy and the rules you have to follow.

Follow the rules.

Keep climbing.

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About the author: 

Olga Koroleva is a founder and CEO of Capital Brain, a company that builds AI-powered products. She is also a high-altitude mountaineer who likes to climb mountains with double-digit death rates, University lecturer, and a public speaker on leadership and risk taking. Sign up to her self-leadership newsletter at https://capitalbrain.co/blog/