Sometimes the long haul requires more than running on your own steam. Even swimming icon Diana Nyad credits Bonnie Stoll, her coach and now her longtime friend, as playing a major part in all of Nyad’s attempts at swimming from Cuba to Florida.

So 24Life asked Stoll for her perspective on the role of the coach, even through failure, and how to set and achieve goals.

24Life: How did Diana’s mindset contribute to her success?

Bonnie Stoll: Diana’s mindset is above and beyond any I have ever come in contact with. For Diana, there is no such thing as “I can’t,” until she has exhausted every single scenario there is to consider.

24Life: How do you coach your clients forward when they have just experienced failure?

BS: Failure is very important if success is the goal. Nothing is linear, so the more we practice, the more we will win.

24Life: How can we develop our own motivation and will to persevere to achieve our dreams?

BS: We can all say, “I’d rather fail than never to have tried.”

24Life: How important is it to have a coach to help you achieve your goals?

BS: A coach is very important for myriad reasons. When the athlete is performing, the coach is watching the form, the thought processes and the mindset. A good coach knows his/her charge, and therefore, will know what the athlete responds to—is it tough love, or is it giving advice through kindness? A coach and an athlete MUST be on the same page. They must want the same thing.

24Life: What did you say to the critics who said that the mission to Cuba would fail and Diana would not make it?

BS: There will ALWAYS be haters and cruel people. Know whom to listen to and whom to tune out.

24Life: Why do you think people give up on their dreams?

BS: Sometimes people give up on their dreams because they are afraid of failure. Everyone fails first in order to succeed. Real success does not come easily. Success takes preparation and work.

24Life: What is your approach to setting and achieving goals?

BS: I prefer to set smaller goals to arrive at success. I don’t believe in climbing from the first rung to the top of the ladder all at once. One rung at a time to get to the top.

24Life: Do you think epic physical successes in sports and fitness are a result of good genes (nature) or training (nurture)?

BS: I believe we learn what we see—we see what our parents do—and I believe we can also set our own goals by what we think we are capable of and go from there. So nature and nurture are both important.

24Life: What advice do you have for a long, healthy, happy life?

BS: My advice for everyone is to make walking a priority. Get up and move. Your heart wants to work. The more you ask of that big muscle, the better that big muscle will work.

24Life: Who inspires you?

BS: Anyone who gets up, goes to work, takes care of the kids and pets, gets some exercise in, and then gets up and does it all over again the next day.

24Life: How do you deal with stress?

BS: When I feel stressed, I usually go for a walk.

24Life: Last book you read?

BS: “Educated” by Tara Westover is the last book I read, and I recommend it to anyone. It’s a fascinating memoir of a woman who grew up off the grid.

24Life: Next book you want to read?

BS: The next book I’m going to read is “The Idiot” by Fyodor Dostoevsky because I read a classic in between every new book I read.

24Life: Food you cannot live without?

BS: I can’t live without pesto. I put it on pasta, and I put it on eggs.

24Life: Do you have any secrets to balance?

BS: My secret is do everything that you want to do, just do it in moderation.

Photo credit: Tom Casey,