THE YEAR 2015, MONTH: SEPTEMBER. In London, a leading auction house organized an “out of the ordinary” auction sale. An 86-year-old doctor’s old leather shoes which he had worn 60 years ago was on sale. The shoe had an expected reserve price of 30,000 to 50,000 Pounds.
The auction started and bidding opened. In super lighting speed of just two and half minutes, the shoes got sold to a bidder over the telephone. Any guess, what was the sale price. Well, it was $220,000 Pounds (it rises to 266,500 Pounds with the buyer’s premium).
Just imagine a 60-year-old worn leather shoe pair sells at Rs 2.6 Crore (1 British Pound = 101 INR).
What’s so special about the shoes?
Well, the shoes had created a sporting history in mid-1950s. Before I tell you the story, let’s roll back a little backward to 1880s. Since 1880 many gifted athletes, talented runners who had great coached to guide them tried to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. For 70 long years, hundreds of runners and racers tried hard to break the “4 min mile” barrier but failed.
Hundreds tried and hundreds failed. They all failed. They came very close to breach it, as close as 4.03, 4.02 and then in 1945, a runner created a record of 4.01 seconds. Hundreds tried and failed. It had become both a physiological and psychological barrier, like an unconquerable mountain.
Even experts from the medical field coaches and even athletes were convinced that running a four-minute mile was an insurmountable limitation of the human body. They came to the conclusion that a human body is physically not capable of running a mile under 4 minutes maybe our bone structure was not right for it.
The experts called it “The Mount Everest” of running (remember Mount Everest was unconquered till 6th May 1954). This was the bad news, but they had the good news too! Experts believed that the record is possible only under ideal conditions.
Yes, ideal conditions like no wind blowing, the temperature should be below 68 degrees Celsius, the track should be dry and hard and last but not least, there should be tens of thousands of people cheering the runners.
The Historical Race.
May 6, 1954, a mile event race was organized at the Iffley road track at Oxford between the Amateur Athletic Association and Oxford University. The conditions were far from ideal, in fact, it was exactly the opposite. It was raining, fifteen miles per hour crosswinds were blowing, the temperature was too low, the track was wet and slippery and only 3000 people gathered to watch the race unfold.
One of the runners was 25-year-old medical student Roger Bannister. On May 6, 1954 he spent the morning working his usual shift at St Mary’s Hospital in London. Later in the afternoon, he took a train to Oxford to race in the racing event.
At 6 PM the starting gun was fired and the race began. It was a 4-lap race. Bannister ran the first lap in 57.7 seconds. He continued running and finished the 2nd lap in 1:58.3 seconds and then the 3rd lap in 3:00.7 Seconds.
Just one lap to go and only 59 seconds left.
Could he finish it in under 4 minutes?
The Final Lap.
Bannister was tired and exhausted. The crowd began to grow mad in anticipation, many holding their heads not knowing what will happen. Roger Bannister dipped into every ounce of energy he could gather ran faster and faster. With just 250 meters left he initiated his famous leap, his final sprint for the finish line.
He very well knew that he was running against clock and chased by history. Eyes closed and mouth open, Bannister threw himself completely and finally hit the finish line breaking the tape. He collapsed almost unconscious. It was an emotional moment. The announcement was delayed and people kept waiting in anticipation.
Announcer Norris Mcwhirter (later founded Guinness Book of records) delayed the information creating a sense of drama.
Finally, he started announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, here is the result of Event Number Nine, the One Mile,” said Norris McWhirter, “First, number 41, R.G. Bannister, Amateur Athletic Association, and formerly of Exeter and Merton Colleges, Oxford, with a time which is a new meeting and track record, and which, subject to ratification, will be a new English native, British national, British All-Comers, European, British Empire, and world record.
The time was three…” Nobody heard McWhirter finish and the crowd erupted in pandemonium. The crowd lifted Roger Bannister on the shoulder as a roman hero and carried him around the track.
Bannister’s time was 3:59.4.
At the end of the year, Roger Bannister retired from his athletic competition to focus on his medical career. After earning a medical degree from Oxford, he became a neurologist.
In 1975, he was knighted and died aged 88 in March 2018.
The Real Miracle.
If you thought that was amazing, then what happened after 6th May was nothing short of a miracle. In fact, the most interesting part of this story is what happened next. In just 46 days after he did the unthinkable, Australian runner John Landy broke his record. He ran the distance in only 3:57.9. Yes, in just six weeks’ time. And it didn’t just stop there. In fact, it was just the beginning. More and more runners started to breach the 4-minute barrier.
As of today, over 1400 professional athletes have broken the barrier.
Now the question is what the hell changed suddenly.
The Change Equation.
Did the athletes changed their running style, did they changed their coach, did they changed their shoes, did they changed their diets, or did they change their training programs?
The answer is nothing changed! Everything remained the same except one thing.
The change was not outer, but inner, the change was not external, but was internal, the change was not physical but mental. Something changed deeper. The real change was at the sub-conscious level, in the belief system. All of a sudden Roger Bannister became a reference point. Other runners started to believe that if he can do it even, they can. People started believing in the possibility. It was the belief that brought the transformation.
The Power of Belief.
Our beliefs can make us or break us. On, one side is empowering beliefs that move us forward and on the other limiting beliefs that hold us back. Here comes the good news: limiting beliefs are not cast in stone which means you can change your limiting beliefs. Remove your limiting beliefs, remove your perception of what’s possible.
Understand this, if you wish to achieve something, the first condition is to believe that you can. The very first step to achieve things you want is to first believe that you can. Then only will you put in the necessary effort and energy needed to put yourself in a position to be successful?
“What you think is what becomes your belief and what your belief is what you become.”
Henry Ford said it so well, “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Make this your basic philosophy of life.
Before accomplishing bigger things in life, you must have belief- belief in yourself, belief in your potential, believing in the opportunity and belief in the outcome. Since your beliefs become your reality, be aware and attentive to these beliefs.
Remember this, it’s the beliefs you hold that shapes your life. They act as a switch that can be turned on or turned off.
Now just ask yourself: what is my four-minute mile?
How can I challenge my limiting belief?
How can I change my belief?
How can I turn my limiting belief off?
Roger Bannister provides an important lesson: Once you start believing something is possible, it becomes possible.
Please let me know in the comments box below that how can you connect this story to your life?
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Become your own Roger Bannister.