This past weekend, on her fifth attempt, 64 year old Diana Nyad achieved her dream: to become the first person to swim, unaided, from Cuba to Florida. That's more than 100 miles in choppy ocean waters inhabited by sharks and jellyfish!
How many amazing feats have humans accomplished simply because we wanted to see if we could do something?
A couple weekends ago, I went hiking, and all along the way, one of the guys kept running up and climbing on things just to see if he could. Small things. And inconsequential. Yet it made me realize that I can't remember the last time I tried something—not for work, not to prove a point, not for any purpose other than just to see if I could do it.
When is the last time you tried something just to see if you could do it?
Why? Why not?
Kids do all the time. Can I run faster than my best friend? Can I climb to the tallest branch in that tree? Can I do a cartwheel? (And yes, because I was bored enough as a child, I put up with falling enough times to finally figure out how to cartwheel. And yes, I still get a small twinge of “look what I can do” satisfaction when I do cartwheels today.)
These small victories fuel our belief in our own capacity. They build our why-not muscles for those more ambitious dreams. The dream might be a physical feat, such as swimming from Cuba to Florida. Maybe it's a goal like one camper’s goal of becoming a child psychologist and helping other kids. Maybe it's a dream of a better world for our children.
Nobody ever achieved anything amazing without the (possibly naÃ¯ve) belief that they could achieve it, nor without the conviction that accomplishing it would be worthwhile—even if it’s just for the sense of accomplishment.
If we can't look a big dream in the eye and say, “why not,”--how can we ever expect to teach our kids to do the same?
So go ahead. Try something just to see if you can do it.