The Coach

After I watched the inspiring documentary, The Other Shore, on Olympian Diana Nyad's many attempts to swim, at the age of 64, from Cuba to Florida, two things became crystal clear:

First, Diana could not have done it without her coach, Bonnie Stoll. Her coach infused the journey with her own passionate belief in the swimmer's dream. Without Bonnie encouraging, yelling, shouting and motivating from the boat, Diana wouldn't have accomplished her goal. Big dreams rarely come true through the work of a solitary individual. It takes a crew or a team. Her team had four failures. But on that fifth swim, when Diana had reached her limit and cried to climb out of the cold water, her coach Bonnie spurred her on, "Don't stop," she yelled and pointed. Diana looked up and saw the coastline of Florida.

Second (and this is really important), for a while, winning looks like losing. Diana cried and yelled and gave up in the cold water four times before she completed the fifth attempt. In the middle of a script, a writer may feel lost at sea. There are jellyfish and sharks. Naysayers and the devils in our own minds. The writer may cry like a baby. She may find herself stuck in a corner, unable to get out. Or worse, she may quit. She may sign up for underwater basketweaving classes. Leaving us orphaned without her beautiful stories.

Writing is solitary, but a writer doesn't have to cross the ocean alone. A good coach helps the writer see the shoreline. Together, writer and coach accomplish the dream.

Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage at the age of 64. This was also her coach's dream. They accomplished it together. And inspired many to go beyond limitations to reach out for extraordinary.


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