With all the news of the fires out west, oversized alligators and Syria, one item sparked our avid attention: Diana Nyad. She did it! She swam from Cuba to Key West midst shark-infested waters, jellyfish abounding at the age of 64 when one would consider it out of the question. One of the things that she said after landing is that her mantra was “find a way”. Those words could fill anyone with hope and desire to excel. Diana said “everything you come up against say—and this is why people are relating to my story—all of us suffer heartache. All of us suffer difficulties in our lives. And if you say to yourself ‘find a way,’ you’ll make it through.”
Ms. Nyad is a tremendous inspiration to those baby boomers who are plugging away in the job market, being rejected for jobs that require half of their skills. She is a beacon of light to all of us who struggle against insurmountable problems, ‘find a way’. She implores us not to give up on our dreams, it is never too late. Never give up, don’t abandon that job search because people tell you they want a less-tenured candidate and you know they mean younger. Find a way to believe in yourself and make it happen. It’s an amazingly simple yet spiritual message. We can all find a way.
I personally have followed Diana for years. I first noticed her in 1975 when she circled Manhattan Island, at the time I was living outside the country but proud of her from afar. Diana Nyad made her first attempt at the swim from Havana to Key West after travel restrictions to Cuba were lifted. Again in 1979 I witnessed her progress swimming from Bimini to Florida, a record that still stands today. When she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986, I was proud that she was still at it.
In recent years, in addition to being an author and lecturer, Diana has continued to try to accomplish this one feat that has eluded her. She made attempts in 2011, 2012, and finally in 2013 she has accomplished her dream. She is fully aware of what her achievement means for her cohort, that even at this stage of the game, you can still reach your goal. It’s a strong and motivating message for a time when this kind of strength is needed. We’ve spoken before about the challenges facing older workers and we have seen national organizations like AARP and the Society for Human Resources Management partner up on making the workplace and many cities ‘Age-Friendly’. Giving hope an encouragement, organizations like Catalyst Miami have programs such as Re-serve which pair up semi-retired professionals with non-profit organizations in order to utilize their talents in a constructive way. There is always a chance to ‘find a way’. Thinking you are alone out there going through this experience is wrong: you are not alone. There are groups like Back on Track Network, AARP, Catalyst, to help you realize your potential. Now it’s up to you, in the words of Diana Nyad “never give up on your dream, find a way”.