At the age of 25, Roger Bannister made headlines around the world as the first person to run a mile under four minutes — a test of speed and endurance that stands as one of the defining sporting achievements of the 20th century.
That was in 1954.
On March 3, he passed away at the age of 88.
Bannister’s 3:59:4 mile opened the gates to what many thought was impossible in track — both physically and psychologically (it had long been thought that a sub 4-minute mile was far from achievable, and perhaps deadly for those who tried due to the limitations of human lungs, heart and bone structure).
Bannister viewed running as something to be done in his spare time away from the demands of his medical studies at the University of Oxford, but that did not prevent him reaching the biggest stages in the sport.
Today, more than 1,300 athletes have broken four minutes for the mile. And it remains the benchmark of a successful middle-distance runner. The current record is 3:43.12.
Here’s a crazy fact: fewer people have broken four minutes for the mile than summited Mount Everest.
Limits Only Exist in Our Minds
There were a lot of factors to Bannister’s success. This included timing, practice and strategy. Then there was his grit. You see, grit tends to defy logic.
And, while it is normal to view overcoming self-limiting beliefs as impossible, it is also important to remember that our attitudes shape and control of behavior. Having the right mindset is key to overcoming obstacles.
Action item for managers and leaders: consider running a short and effective meeting challenging the status quo mindset with your team members. As a manager or leader, ask yourself how you could attain something you deem impossible, with the proper use of time, effort and attention.