The one mile story about doing something beyond ordinary

Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

Ever thought about why infants always manage to learn how to walk despite falling so many times?

When my niece was a few months old, she started trying to stand using her arms as support. But every time she would try, she would fall. And then she would try again.

And again… and again… and again. Until she could!

It went on for months before she could stand on two feet and walk on her own. But it would often make me wonder — Why didn’t she give up?

The answer is simple :

She believed that she could walk.

Everyone around her could walk, and so she knew that she could walk too. As a kid, learning to walk, run and jump were beyond impossible at once. But self-belief makes it achievable.

If you want to do something beyond ordinary, you must first believe that you can do it.

The One Mile Story

Until 1954, running a mile (1.6 km) under 4 mins was considered impossible. Runners had been chasing the goal seriously since at least 1886, and the challenge involved the most brilliant coaches and gifted athletes in North America, Europe, and Australia.

It had become more of a psychological barrier than a physical one. Most people never even tried, because it was considered beyond human limits.

Until Roger Bannister, on May 6, 1954, busted through the four-minute barrier in 3:59.4 mins. John Bryant detailed the journey of various runners, including Bannister, in his book, 3:59.4: The Quest to Break the 4 Minute Mile.

The experts believed that they knew the precise conditions required to achieve the one mile in less than 4 mins.

  • It would have to be in perfect weather. Around 68 degrees and no wind.
  • On a particular kind of track — hard, dry clay
  • In front of a huge, vibrant crowd inspiring the runner to give her or his best-ever performance

But Bannister did it on a cold day, on a wet track, at a small meet in Oxford, England, before a crowd of just a few thousand people.

But that is not the exciting part!

Just 46 days after Bannister’s triumph, John Landy, an Australian athlete, broke the barrier again in a record time of 3 minutes 58 seconds.

Just over a year later, three runners broke the four-minute barrier in a single race. And in the last half-century, more than a thousand athletes have conquered a barrier that was once considered beyond human capabilities. Nowadays, some of the competitive athletes in schools and colleges can run at that speed.

And all that could become possible because now we believe that it is achievable. At one point, Roger Bannister believed that he could do it.

The most critical ingredient to achieving what seems impossible is believing that it is possible.

Final Thoughts

The road to achieving anything starts with self-belief, and then one needs to put in the hard work and discipline to achieve it. Persistence and consistency are secondary if one doesn't believe in themselves.

You really want to do something, develop the self-belief that you can do it, then go for it.

You can have anything you want if you are willing to give up the belief that you can’t have it
— Dr Robert Anthony

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