What We Can Learn About Determination From Diana Nyad

I have been working in our U.S. offices recently, and I was fascinated to read and hear several news stories about Diana Nyad and her record-setting swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida.

That’s 110 miles (177 kilometers) in just under 53 hours. Though the distance conquered itself is astounding, there is far more to this story that is even more amazing:

  1. Ms. Nyad is 64-years-old, an age when many are contemplating a relaxing retirement.
  2. She had failed at the same swim repeatedly, beginning with her first attempt at age 28.
  3. She had quit swimming for 30 years before returning to train for this final attempt.
  4. She was physically ill the entire swim, unable to keep down nourishment or water.

Determination as an organizational value

One article about Ms. Nyad’s achievement highlighted the mental focus and determination needed to complete the swim under such conditions. To not give up, knowing the difficulty of succeeding. To continue to push her body forward without the nourishment to provide energy to do so.

While I’ve written before on the importance of recognizing and rewarding failure as critical step on the path to ultimate success, I cannot ignore the importance of determination in overcoming failure to focus on the goal and find that success. Indeed, “determination” is one of our four core values at Globoforce and, I believe, a key component in our success as an organization.

Is determination praised and appreciated in your organization? Is that attitude of “forging ahead in the face of difficult circumstances or past failures” encouraged or devalued?

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What’s your story of determination to overcome all odds?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at irvine@globoforce.com.


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