Over the past few weeks, I keep coming across the same story – the story of Roger Bannister’s sub-4-minute mile.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, the quick version is that up until 1954, it was considered beyond human capacity to run a mile in under 4 minutes. This belief was supported by thousands and thousands of great athletes who tried to break this barrier and failed.
So the belief existed as fact – a sub-4-minute mile was simply impossible.
And then… it wasn’t.
On May 6th, 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3 minutes, and 59.4 seconds. Running a sub-4-minute mile was no longer impossible… it was done.
But that’s not where the story ends, and that is not the lesson of today.
People could look at Bannister’s run as a fluke, or look at him as a freak of nature – an unnaturally gifted human.
While some may have viewed his massive accomplishment in that way, others did not – others accepted and adopted the new belief – that running a sub-4-minute mile was possible.
So after the impossible belief was shattered, 6 weeks later, the record was broken again. And then again and again. What was once impossible, became the standard.
But runners didn’t all of a sudden become more athletic or physically evolved, right? So why is it that more and more runners started breaking 4 minutes? Simply because they believed.
Looking back at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, every one of the 13 finalists broke the 4-minute mile by between 3.25 and 10 seconds. In fact, the current mile record holder finished the race in 3 minutes and 43 seconds back in 1999.
What was once impossible is now no longer even considered competitive or elite. It’s hardly table stakes.
So what does that tell you about all the things we believe to be impossible today?
Break Through Your Impossible
Today’s post isn’t about what it takes to run a sub-4-minute mile. Today is about building a belief in yourself to combat what you’ve always seen as impossible for you – and making it possible.
I’ve written before about what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail, and now I want to ask a new question of you – what would you do if you believed your impossible was possible?
Think about the dreams you’ve always had for yourself – dreams that you never took action on because you considered them impossible.
Maybe not impossible to everyone – just impossible to you.
Perhaps you believe you aren’t smart enough or athletic enough or don’t have the right genes or the best opportunities.
So what would your life become if you made the decision to challenge those barriers? What would happen if you planted the seed of belief that all of your impossibles could in fact be possible?
Bannister didn’t break the 4-minute mile because he was special… he broke it because he believed it was possible. And then he worked his a$$ off and put in the hard work to make it a reality.
That is the message today – before you take on any of your biggest challenges, climb your highest mountains, or break through the thickest of walls, you must believe that you can! And then you need to get to work!
Living in a mindset of impossible will crush any beliefs, ideas, strategies or approaches to making the impossible a reality. Your brain will dismiss any and all reasons why the impossible can be done.
We must create a mindset of possible to foster the creativity, bold action, and relentless determination to keep attacking our impossible challenges until we ultimately (and we will if we believe) defeat them. And when we do, we will create a new universe of what is now possible.
Belief… purpose… aspiration… desire – whatever word or feeling resonates with you – begin to foster it and direct it towards what you always viewed as impossible. Losing the weight, finishing a race, starting a business, earning a million dollars, buying a vacation home, finding love, starting a family, earning a degree…
Whatever your impossible is, build the belief that it is a chasm that you can cross, because something is only impossible until it’s been done.
So what are you going to do?
Discussion Question: What have you always believed to be impossible in your life? What is your ‘4-minute’ mile? Now, what is the first action you can take right now to begin building the belief that it can be possible?
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."