Received wisdom held that it was actually impossible to achieve. Beyond the reach of human capability. “It just can’t be done”.
Running a sub 4-minute mile was an obsession in the first half of the 20th Century. By the 1940’s the record for this distance had reached at 4.01 and stayed there for almost 10 years.
Enter Roger Bannister. A runner who had come fourth at the Olympics in 1952. He set himself a new challenge – to achieve the impossible. With his team he planned and prepared with determination, discipline and focus. In May 1954 he arrived at the Iffley Road race track in Oxford with a single goal in mind. Using pace setters to get the early lap time right he won the race. This was before digital time tracking and the race result was announced over the tannoy “The time was three…..” and then the crowd drowned out the rest of the announcement (3.59.4 to save you googling it).
Bannister broke the record as well as people’s perceptions. What was considered impossible was now possible. In the hundreds of years before 6th May 1954 no one had achieved it this feat. Now just one person had. Was he superhuman? No but he was, literally, a trailblazer.
Do you know what? In the five years after that date a further 21 people broke the 4-minute mile. Of course, these athletes also had to plan, and work hard at their craft. But another crucial element was now part of their make-up. A new outlook. A new belief. These runners now knew it was possible – because it was – it always had been.
You have to believe to succeed.