Leadership 3.0: How Diana Nyad Defied Life's Challenges and How You Can, Too

Her mantra was, "Find a way." At the age of 64, on September 1, 2013, Diana Nyad became the first person to successfully swim the treacherous Florida Straits, a 110-mile passage from Cuba to Florida, without the protection of a shark cage. It's a notorious stretch of water brimming with sharks, jellyfish, squalls and an unpredictable Gulf Stream. She found a way. And so can you. I mean, you can find a way to do almost anything, if you want it enough.

That's what leaders do.

"It was her fifth attempt, coming after four years of grueling training, precision planning and single-minded determination," according to the New York Times. It was a grueling feat, not only physically, but emotionally and mentally. Those who are grappling with personal challenges -- including career, work, life or health issues -- can look at Diana Nyad as a source of inspiration, no matter what they are going through.

Diana Nyad said: "I have three messages. One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team."

Nyad did what leaders do. Everyone can create the career or business they desire, if they follow Nyad's three messages.

One message is that you are never too old to chase your dreams or achieve your goals. At 64 she did something younger people couldn't do, including her younger self.

Second, if you are trying to accomplish your dreams alone, then stop. Like Nyad says, "it takes a team." And people have to know what your dreams are in order to help you achieve them. When you share your dreams, you will find people who will support you, or connect you with the people who can help make them happen.

And last, like Nyad, if you are persistent and tenacious and don't give up, you can reach your goals. Nyad tried this swim five times, the first time when she was 28 years old in 1978.

It's important to note that this is not Nyad's first accomplishment. She has been setting distance records since she first swam 28 miles around the island of Manhattan, New York City in just under eight hours at the age of 26. However, like great leaders do, she was constantly challenged by new goals and visions.

Nyad's advice and strategy for success bear much in common with the stories and strategies I share in my book, LINK OUT, but instead applied to people's careers and business goals. While her challenge was physical, it was also mental. What we all share with Nyad is the mental attitude that is required to address our challenges and realize our goals. Beware of the negative mind games which we play on ourselves or others play on us, such as: "You're too old. You don't have enough education. You don't have enough experience. You've never done that before. What makes you think you can do that? Try something easier." Don't believe any of it. Follow Nyad's messages and you, too, can achieve your dreams. And you can become a leader in the process.