In 1946, it was common knowledge that it was impossible to run a mile under 4 minutes. Both athlete’s bodies and doctors attested to that fact.
The world record for running one mile was 4 minutes and 4 seconds.
In that same year, 1946, 17 year old Roger Bannister started his running career. He ran the mile in 4 minutes and 26 seconds. He did well enough to enter the British Olympic team in 1952. Yet he only finished fourth, and his performance was considered a disaster.
Was it time to end his running career and fully focus on his medical career?
After two months of reflection, Roger Bannister decided not to quit. Instead, he did the opposite.
Bannister set himself an ambitious goal
He would break the four minute mile and set a new world record. By doing that, he would go below what was regarded as humanly possible.
In late 1952 he ran the mile in 4 minutes and 7 seconds.
In 1953, he ran the mile in 4 minutes and 3.6 seconds.
On May 6, 1954, he entered a race at Oxford. And during that live broadcasted race, Roger Bannister changed history:
He ran one mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds
Not two months later than Bannister’s breaking the 4 minute mile by less than one second, the Australian John Landry ran the mile in 3 minutes 58 seconds.
Within one year, a whooping 37 runners broke the 4 minute mile.
In the year after that, over 300 runners did it. After that, they stopped counting.
The belief that no one could do it had been broken together with the 4 minute mile
None of that had anything to do with better footwear and everything with one man’s mind.
What you can learn from this for your leadership
Your mindset is everything. When you embrace a ‘mind over matter’ mindset, you can achieve everything you set out to.
I regularly hear leaders name things they want but that they see as unachievable. If you’re stuck in such a belief, here’s a little exercise for you:
Take a moment, and list the things you want to achieve but are afraid you won’t. Or:
List the things you believe you cannot get your people to do.
Now ask yourself: What if?
What if you could achieve this?
What if you could lead your people to where you want to go together?
Remember the 4 minute mile which proves this: Whatever you think you cannot do, you cannot do! Whatever you think you can do, you can.
Use the power of your mind
Change starts with becoming aware of and changing your thought patterns and beliefs.
Replace these with thoughts and What ifs that allow you to break your own 4 minute mile. You will create a ripple effect while you’re at it. As you model this, you empower your team members and peers to do the same and you’ll know how to support them on their journey of transformation. When you work on your inner leadership, your leadership effectiveness will reach a new level. And so will your results.
I see it happen all the time for my clients.