A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Why do we read motivational stories?

on March 17, 2016

This month’s book for the Taking the Long Way Home book club isn’t a running book, but rather Diana Nyad’s story of her life and her endurance swimming adventures. Thanks as always to Wendy for hosting!

TLWH Book Club

In September 2013, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage.  She was a competitive swimmer in the pool when she was younger, but while she was good she recognized that she wasn’t elite and so she shifted her focus to endurance swimming events. This included swimming around Manhattan and swimming from the Bahamas to Juno Beach, Florida. She attempted the swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West many times before ultimately succeeding and this book outlines many of those attempts.

Find a Way

My favorite parts of this book were the descriptions of the endurance swims and the training for these, which is so far outside my realm of experience. I’d never imagined the kind of support required for this kind of endeavor, but there was a large support team. The book includes photos to illustrate the huge undertaking this was.

That said, there’s a lot more to this book than just the Havana to Key West swim. It rambles over a lot of her childhood, other swimming events and other aspects of her life before the Havana swim. Her writing style is very over-the-top, sports writer cliches, which gets a little exhausting for me. The story also wanders a lot, so you never know exactly what you’re going to be reading about next. I wasn’t very familiar with her story other than the swim, so I was caught off guard when I was suddenly reading about childhood sexual abuse. Be aware of that if that’s a trigger for you, as it shows up early and very matter of factly.

In addition to this book, she’s done a lot of motivational speaking about the importance of not giving up on goals, no matter the circumstances. She stuck with the goal of swimming from Cuba to Florida over half of her life, finally completing it in her 60s, which is impressive. We really can do amazing things if we have the will and can muster the resources.

While I didn’t love this book, it did make me think about why we seek out motivational stories and why we tell our stories (like I do here). There can be a lot of comfort in reading about someone who overcame tremendous odds, when you are struggling with something yourself. That can be even more powerful when it is someone “like you” which is why I think it is so important for a wide variety of us to tell our stories. If all success stories looked the same, it might limit who can reach. We’re all different and our definitions of success can vary, but all of those things speak to someone whether we realize it or not. My definition of success will never be swimming from Cuba to Florida – just swimming the entire length of the pool at my gym would be a win! However, I can still take inspiration from Diana Nyad’s determination to never give up on her goal and from all of your stories that have motivated me as well.

Go forth and conquer today! Do you like to read “motivational” stories? Are you a little turned off sometimes by over-the-top-motivational spiels?

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6 responses to “Why do we read motivational stories?

  1. Anna says:

    I love to hear about people who have overcome great odds. But, yes, I tune out if the speech is too “rah rah” over the top. There is no way I would every consider a swim like that – no interested in a gazillion jellyfish stings 😛

  2. I’m with you on this one, I loved her story, but it did get a little tedious in the details. Still, there was so much motivation here! Never give up.

    Thanks for linking up, as always!

  3. I love to read how people overcome obstacles and I’m like you I write about my running and how I got started to inspire others too but to keep me motivated. I see just how far I’ve come and I think I’m about as normal as anyone. I hope people can say If she can do it, I can too. Great post Jessica!

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