“I knew I was very close. I did collapse at the end. If you don’t keep on running, keep your blood circulating…the muscles stop pumping the blood back, and you get dizzy. I did lose my sight for a bit because I was crowded in. Everybody rushed on to the track.” –Roger Bannister
On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister set out to break one of the most publicized impossible feats of all time—the four minute mile.
For many many years, it was said that the human body simply could not run one mile in four minutes. It was impossible.
But in 1953, Bannister had run the mile in four minutes and three seconds, which was all he needed to realize that it was possible. “This race made me realize that the four-minute mile was not out of reach,” said Bannister.
From that point on, he had a very clear goal to break the four minute mile. Not only was it possible to him, but he also felt that he had to do it right away before others beat him to it.
His training at the time was considered very non-traditional, but as a medical student, he had a very clear plan to achieve his goal.
On a cool breezy day in Oxford, England Bannister ran the race of his life. Immediately after, the announcer said through a loud speaker, “The time was 3…”
The roar of the crowd drowned out the rest. His official time was 3 minutes 59.4 seconds.
It was an incredible moment in athletic history.
But what is even more incredible is what happened after. By the end of 1957, sixteen people had broken the four minute mile. Sixteen!
Something that had previously been considered absolutely impossible, was suddenly done by sixteen people within a thirty month period.
The question is, what has changed? The answer is simple, it was the athlete’s beliefs. First, Bannister changed his beliefs about his ability to break the record and then once he broke the four minute mile, the others suddenly changed their beliefs. It went from possible to impossible in an instant.
There is a lot that we can learn from this experience, but mostly it is the power that our beliefs have over our lives. If you believe that something you want to achieve is impossible, then you are right. But if you believe that you are capable to success, you are also right.
You can have the absolute perfect strategy for success, but if you don’t believe that you can succeed then it is all wasted.
Looking at your own life, reflect on the different beliefs you have about what you want in life. If they are negative, then it is critical that you replace them with affirmative beliefs. For example, Roger Bannister went from uncertainty about whether breaking the four minute mile was impossible to being completely certain that he could do it. In fact, he was afraid that someone was going to beat him to it!
The beliefs that you have can either empower you or discourage you—it’s up to you to change the ones that hold you back.