Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 13 2015

What You Should Keep In Mind On Your Career Journey

By David McMillin

“Each journey is a rousing call to action in the potential of all of us,” Diana Nyad told an audience of meeting professionals and suppliers at the opening general session on Tuesday, January 13 at Convening Leaders.

Nyad is no stranger to long journeys. After recently completing the 110-mile, 53-hour swim from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64, Nyad’s story of perseverance resonates with anyone who is hoping to bring their dreams to life, and the Convening Leaders audience includes plenty of big thinkers, dreams and doers. From the most promising young minds in the industry to the most seasoned meetings and events veterans, Convening Leaders participants are all aiming to do more than check off the items on their existing to-do lists. Here’s a look at three key takeaways for your career from Nyad’s address.

1) If you want to reach a difficult destination, you’re going to need some help.

While Nyad was the one wearing goggles and swimming toward Key West, she couldn’t have reached the shore without the help of a team of trainers, nutritionists and ocean experts.

“Your team will help find that drop of courage left inside you,” Nyad said.

In addition to cheering her along and inspiring her to keep pushing forward in the face of a brutal trip, that team also kept her safe. Nyad discussed a team of shark divers who swam beneath her to spot for any potentially dangerous pairs of eyes.

While planning an attendee experience or selling an event space doesn’t require braving the danger of a sharp set of teeth, Nyad’s lesson still carries an essential lesson: it’s your career, but your success relies on those who surround you.

2) There is no substitution for what’s inside you.

Nyad’s journey ended in failure — not just once, either. Her first four attempts did not close with her fingertips on the Florida coastline. As she prepared for her fifth and final attempt, a doctor sent her a note recommending that she should give up. It was impossible. Based on mathematical calculations, weather predictions and numerical forecasting, there was no hope. However, Nyad paid no attention.

“You’re forgetting the power of the human spirit,” Nyad told her friend.

Of course, Nyad’s drive proved that charts and predictions cannot place a real value on your drive to succeed.

3) Only you can answer the most important question.

Whether you’re just starting your career or you’re considering when to hang up your meetings jersey, ask yourself the question Nyad asked herself when she turned 60: have I become the person I can admire?

If the answer is no, it’s time to figure out what to do in order to create a lasting legacy. On a professional level, perhaps you should consider looking for new job opportunities where you can contribute more of your own ideas or think of getting more involved in a mentor role where you can help someone who was once in your shoes. On a personal level, maybe you should determine a better work-life balance to play a bigger role in the lives of your friends and family.

Are you in Chicago for Convening Leaders? What inspired you most about Dyad’s session? Click here to share your thoughts on Catalyst and whether you think she would be a great speaker for your own audience.

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