Last Friday, I went to hear Vicki Keith speak. She is a pretty famous Canadian who has accomplished some pretty impressive swims.
Vicki swam across Lake Ontario doing the butterfly. Imagine that for a moment. Imagine the amount of energy that would take. It makes swimming across the lake doing freestyle seem almost easy.
Another time, she swam a return trip across the lake. Swim across, touch the 'wall' turn around and swim back. They told her it could not be done. So she did it.
She swam across all five Great Lakes in one summer even though they told her it could not be done. In fact she swam across all five Great Lakes in one summer precisely because they told her it could not be done.
While I listened to her speak, I kept leaning over to my friend next to me to whisper words of shock.
She swam for 100 hours straight?!?!
She swam the butterfly across Lake Ontario!?!?
Vicki Keith is a pretty impressive athlete and is equally impressive outside of the water. She coaches swimmers with physical disabilities. She has raised over $1,000,000 towards this cause. She is a motivational speaker. As they introduced her I lost track of all the world records she had set.
Last Friday I went to hear what she had to say.
I was impressed. I really was.
But I was not motivated.
Vicki has accomplished such incredible feats that they seem superhuman.
If she had been an accomplished 10k swimmer, I would have been motivated. I would have felt that she was someone to look up to, to pin up in my locker, to read more about.
Instead, the things she talked about were so big they almost didn't sound real.
Is it possible for people to be so impressive that, instead of motivating, they actually do the opposite? Most humans could never do what she talked about doing. It's just too big. Too overwhelming.
The idea of swimming for 10 hours is inspiring. The idea of swimming for 100 hours is not. Not to me anyway. That sort of thing falls into the category of fascinating. Of interesting. Of amazing.
But not motivating.
I know. It surprised me too.