When is Failure Truly Inspirational?

Have you ever not completed something you were aiming for and automatically decided you were a failure? Perhaps you didn't totally disparage yourself but still decided that you failed. I was inspired to write this by the recent attempt by Diana Nyad to swim 103 miles from Cuba to Florida. She didn't make it. Was she a failure?

The attempt failed but Diana Nyad was anything but a failure. In fact, she probably inspired more people in her attempt than if she had actually swum the entire 103 miles without a hitch. She had multiple problems during the 29+ hours she swam approximately 55 miles. In fact from hour 3 she was swimming with excruciating shoulder pain, which she had never had before. Then the last 11 or so hours she was besieged by an asthma attack, which she also had never had before. As a physician, I can't imagine her staying in the water at all with an asthma attack to say nothing of the 11 hours she continued. Then there were the "little" things - she was apparently stung by jellyfish in every imaginable part of the body adding to her already pain-wracked body. 

This woman endured more in those 29 hours than most of us endure in our life time. Being unable to breathe is such a frightening experience but she pushed on trying to achieve her goal. However, reaching Florida and swimming that 103 miles was actually only part of her goal. She repeatedly professed that she wanted to show people her age (and mine) that life wasn't over and that they could accomplish their dreams despite their age. She certainly accomplished that goal. Her story is all over the social media networks, CNN and the Internet.

Diana showed courage under fire - fire that most of us will never know. It was not only her personal desire to continue on but she wanted to do this for all the people who supported her and were there for her. Wouldn't you like to pattern your life after her? I know that I would. I cannot tell you how inspired I have been by her and her attempt. I think I'm more inspired by her "failure" and what she went through than if she had simply made it. I also believe that most of the world reacts the same way.

How can you change your life to pattern it after Ms. Nyad's? Take some inventory about what's going on in your own world and see what goals you have or have had. What good came out of the ones you didn't achieve? Take a look at her actions after the event. She admitted intense disappointment but she also carried through on promises she made to her team - she had the parties she had told them they'd have. That is the sign of a true leader and a champion. Do you behave like that when you don't succeed? Or do you go off and pout? What can you change about your reactions and behavior? She also made sure she made a video for her fans thanking them for their support throughout the aftermath of her swim. She thanked them for sending in their stories and telling her how much she had inspired them. She didn't have to admit all these things. She could have just gone into hiding and had a pity party. But that is not Diana Nyad. She is phenomenal.

I recommend that you look at everything you "failed" at and see what good came out of it - either for yourself or for others. Analyze the results and I bet you will see that you helped others. And if you didn't, think about how you can use your situation to help positively influence others.

Check out Ms. Nyad's blog . If you're interested in improving your life, setting realistic and achievable goals and living each day to the fullest, take a look at The Art of Making Things Happen.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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