Swimming with the sharks

Diane Nyad’s historic feat of swimming the 103 miles from Cuba to the U.S. in 53 hours ended with a brief announcement before she nearly collapsed: 

(I paraphrase)

1. Never give up

2.  You are never too old (she’s 67 years old)

3. This is a team sport

Diane Nyad was swimming 6 hours a day since she was 12.  She has broken many records, including swimming around Manhattan Island in less than 8 hours. 

Let’s connect this to leadership development.  Even though Diane Nyad is an expert (really an expert) swimmer she still has a coach for training.  And she had a coach for the actual swim.

In my line of work, I am hired to coach high-potential performers (star swimmers) who are making the transition to management (swimming with the sharks).  It is equally important to have a coach to partner with while you are being the leader as it is to have a coach while you are preparing to be a leader.  

Another take away was that “a team of ocean kayakers and divers accompanied Nyad on her journey, dragging an electronic device in the water that emitted a current to repel sharks”.  This demonstrates the value of having a good manager who provides an umbrella of protection for the new leader to help them focus on their job (swimming) rather than watching out for jellyfish and sharks.  

Jonathan Shaver