The Four-Minute Mile and Mindset (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 183)
“If a man coaches himself, then he has only himself to blame when he is beaten.”
— Roger Bannister
For hundreds of years, experts said that the human body did not possess the capability to run a 4-minute mile. In fact, for over a thousand years, people had tried to reach this goal. And in the 1940s, the mile record was set at four minutes and one second. Since the experts had said it, people just believed the idea that this was a feat that was impossible for the human body to accomplish.
Then on May 6, 1954, a British physician and middle distance athlete, Roger Bannister, broke the 4-minute barrier to run the mile in three minutes and fifty-nine seconds. As part of his training, he persistently and consistently imagined himself reaching this goal, even though many experts years before he was born said it wasn’t possible.
By imagining that he would achieve this goal, Bannister created a sense of possibility, certainty, and success in his mind and body. He believed that he could accomplish what everyone else said wasn’t possible. Without seeing any proof that it could be done, he proved to himself and to the world that the impossible could really be possible if one believes it to be so.
All of us are ordinary people, but we are all special in some way. We can do things that are extraordinary and impossible even if people say they can’t be done. And there is something very exciting about doing the impossible and proving people wrong in the process. As soon as Roger Bannister ran the 4-minute mile in under four minutes, more people started accomplishing it too.
This wasn’t possible because everyone had believed it could be done. It was possible because one man believed it could be done and he did it. His belief created the belief in everyone else. And this is how many goals are achieved and many dreams are realized. Everyone doesn’t have to see it. Everyone doesn’t have to believe it. It only takes one person — one person to believe it and to actually make it happen.
After many years of no one achieving the mile in four minutes, suddenly almost everyone could do it. It suddenly became possible. This belief and possibility created a mindset of success in other people. Now sixty years removed from Roger Bannister’s impossible accomplishment, the record has been lowered by 17 seconds. Not because the mile got any shorter or was altered in some way, but because it was fixed in the mind that it could be done.
The man or woman who cannot believe first will rarely achieve a goal. If you can drive yourself further, past the point of impossibility, past the pain, and past the struggle, you will eventually win. Reaching your goals is not about memorizing rules or mastering a certain number of techniques. It’s about a belief well held. A goal well realized. And a life well lived. Dedicate yourself to the process and you are on your way.
“The level path is easy, but it will not bring you to the mountaintop.”
— Idel Dreimer