Isn’t Life About Determining Your Own Finish Line?

None of us want to be wrong, make mistakes and we like to win and succeed. Who am I kidding ~ this is me I am describing! However, sometimes you have to try the impossible, not achieve it and stretch your comfort zone to be a bit bigger.

Inspirational Diana Nyad!

During the month of September the world sat back in awe of the amazing, age-defying, 62-yr old, American Marathon Swimmer, Diana Nyad, as she went for her Xtreme Dream; attempting to swim 103 nautical miles (160+km) non-stop and unassisted from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida.

“Diana is more than a swimmer. She’s a beacon of hope to us all that we can dream big, live life large, and look back at all of it with no regrets whatsoever”, reported Steve Munatones,

Guiness Book World Record Holder, Roger Allsopp

And how about the dare devil himself; 70yr-old retired breast cancer surgeon, Roger Allsopp of Guernsey, who swam into the record books, becoming the oldest person, male or female, to swim the English Channel in 17hrs+ and be awarded into the Guiness Book of World Records. [read full story here…]

I think one of the things we learn as we get older is that courage is in the effort, not the result.

We try.We don’t always succeed. But we always try — in the face of the people who doubt, in the face of a body that ages, in the face of what we know to be dangerous waters, in the face of the pain, in the face of the disappointment. We try. We go step by step, stroke by stroke, and we learn something with each breath.

The past 18 months I had the unique privilege to mentor seven “ordinary” West Australians to achieve the extraordinary – “their Everest”, in conquering the English Channel.  So as I sat on the white cliffs of Dover with my swimmer, Paul Downie for three weeks in August; Mother Nature tested us and things did not go to plan.

As Paul’s mental & performance coach for the six months leading up to departing for Dover; we had prepared for every scenario including injury, a non-finish and a non-start; that is the rollercoaster ride and journey of an English Channel swimmer.  Paul had become “The English Channel swimmer” both mentally and physically.

Lesson no.1: If you’re going through a lot of change – or experiencing extra challenges — stay focused on the lessons to be learned – and the long term goals you want to achieve in your life.

So as the sun rose on the third day in the Carribean Sea, Diana Nyad was the epitome of will power. There was no logical reason why or how a 62-year-old woman should be able to physically do what she was attempting. Diana Nyad’s Xtreme Dream is a burning desire to achieve a personal goal despite the passage of time. Unfortunately after 40hrs 30mins in the water, swimming 130, 098 strokes, covering 92.2 statute miles ( and after consultation with her crew) Diana made the decision to call it a day.

“These ****** Portuguese man o war. They are the bane of my existence. This isn’t me,” said Diana. It wasn’t her, but it was the sea where the unexpected is to be expected. Where Mother Nature in terms of weather conditions, water conditions or marine life always has the upper hand and the final say;  stated Steve Munatones, and official observer for the Xtreme Dream.

“But for each of us, isn’t life about determining our own finish line? This journey has always been about reaching our own other shore, no matter what it is, and that dream continues. This the only today you are going to get!” Diana Nyad

Lesson no.2: Diana Nyad is one very courageous woman, and an inspiration to all of us who never, never, never, never give up, give in or quit on our self and our dreams.

Paul Downie did get his day finally on Thursday, September 15th2011. Mother Nature blessed our patience with good weather and he achieved his goal in 12hrs 39mins landing on the rocks, (it felt more like boulders) of Cap Gris Nez. I was in awe and tears on this amazing day watching, cheering, encouraging, kicking him in the butt; witnessing Paul define his own finish line!

Paul Downie, "I did it!" on Cap Gris Nez

Lesson no.3: Remember: Worry truly is a prayer — or a visualization — for what you do not want!  Consciously choose to stay focused on what you’re learning and what you want – and eventually it will all work out for you in the end. Make the single word “forward” your new mantra.  Repeat it often – and face yourself forward…and upward!

Some people might say … reset your goals, push through the challenges, get yourself re-motivated! All of those answers work, however sometimes the solution is to do nothing! Well not exactly nothing, stop for a moment and reflect, refocus and recharge.

>> Reflect – What are the messages you have learnt from not achieving?

>> Refocus – What do you need to refocus on right now to move yourself forward?

>> Recharge – What are you going to do to recharge your energy, spirit and enthusiasm to achieve your goals in the future?

I wonder sometimes why DESIRE is so strong in me. And then I read an interview Diana Nyad did that put words to this desire.

She said: “I’m immersed in the everyday, full tilt.” And that made such perfect sense, because no matter what we do or pursue in life,
it’s most important to do something with passion and with persistence, to feel it fully and to appreciate the people around you that help you when you need it.”

“Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.” ~Vivian Komori

We often learn more from not achieving than from achieving sometimes!

When was the last time you attempted the impossible and isn’t it time to do it again?

Cheers Head Coach

Shelley Taylor-Smith

PS: Having difficult bouncing back after things did not go according to plan? Book in for a 20minute discovery session with Shelley Taylor-Smith. Limited to 10 only.  Email Shelley at and tell her why you want to be amongst the 10!

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