In April 1954, it was said that it was impossible to run a mile in under four minutes. Scientists and doctors said that the human body could not physically achieve such a feat; it would be too much stress on the body, and one would die trying. And so formed a public consensus that it could not be done.
To this day, there have been 20,000 athletes who have done just that, running 5280 feet in less than four minutes. What changed?
May 6th, 1954. Meet Roger Bannister, Englishman. He sharpens his racing spikes and rubs them with graphite, waiting for the wind to calm, waiting to run his race. At 6pm, the race begins. 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds later, it is over. Rodger Bannister has crossed the finish line, becoming the first athlete to break the four minute barrier.
It was hardly a matter of physical training that set him apart. His biggest difference was in his mindset, not scared of the professionals that said he couldn’t. He knew that possibilities are limitless, and that thoughts become beliefs. He believed in himself, put his mind to it, and achieved.
Just to prove how powerful the mind is, let’s look at Bannister’s second record: the record for holding a record for the shortest amount of time. In just 42 days, John Landly completed a 3:57.9 mile. Roger got the ball rolling, and pushed the world to believe that the sub-4 minute mile is completely possible.
Looking at this athletic feat in a broader sense, we find that the common denominator of success is mindset.
My coach always put it like this. Calling us into a huddle, he would instruct one of us to try to pick up the volleyball. When the ball was easily lifted into the air, he would pick it up and set it back on the floor, instructing again that we must try to pick up the ball; that there is a huge difference between attempt and success. You cannot aim for mediocrity, your eye must always be on the prize.
That prize is worth it, and its journey is unique to everyone. Your four minute mile is far from impossible, if you just start with your mind.
“The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win” – Roger Bannister