Earlier this month, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad completed a 35-year quest. In swimming the 110 miles from Cuba to Florida, the world-record holder had finally succeeded after four failed attempts. She swam for 52 hours and 54 minutes, endured jelly fish stings (including on her tongue, which ended a previous attempt), thunderstorms, dehydration and the buffeting of unrelenting current.
What do you think about for 53 hours in the water? She had not only this time, but four other attempts and all the endless preparation to consider the question, What do you think about saying when you make landfall? Is there a “one small step for man…” profundity or is it something else, something deeply personal perhaps?
When she could speak, she held up three fingers and told the mob of press and onlookers that she had three things to say: (1) never give up; (2) you’re never too old to chase your dreams; and (3) it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.
Those were her three.
A few weeks earlier, Ashton Kutcher spoke at the Teen Choice Awards. You know Ashton Kutcher. He’s that goofy kid from “That ’70s Show” who married Demi Moore, starred in a ton of mostly fluff movies, amassed nearly 15 million Twitter followers and clowns around in camera commercials. That Ashton Kutcher.
When he spoke, he commanded the complete attention of his teenage audience because he is what they hope to be. YouTube shows over 2,000,000 views of the various videos of his four minute speech. His points have been reproduced ad infinitum in print all over the world:
1. “I never had a job that I was better than, and I never left my job until I had another one lined up.”
2. “Sexy is being really smart, thoughtful and generous. Everything else is crap.”
3. “Don’t just live a life; build your life.”
Those were his three. He said in his remarks that he had distilled these three points from the entirety of his varied and successful life so far.
My question then, is: What are your three?
(If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll tell you mine.)