Inspiring stories to help break through barriers and self-limiting beliefs.
Roger Bannister – The 4 minute mile
On May 6, 1954 Roger Bannister accomplished a feat that no other human being had done. At the time there was a barrier that several athletes tried to conquer but were unsuccessful. Running a mile in less than four minutes was considered impossible for the human body.
Roger Bannister was a doctor and an athlete and raced in middle distance events and was relatively successful. In 1952, he had a setback when qualifying for the Olympics and even considered retiring from running. A great lesson for all of us that failures and setbacks can be great stepping stones and learning opportunities for future successes.
Thankfully he decided to continue running and set an ambitious goal to be the first person to run a mile in less than four minutes. On May 3, 1953 he ran the mile in 4:03 which was a fantastic time and made his dream much more realistic. Other athletes also tried and edged down the time to 4:02. On May 6, 1954 broadcast on TV and in front of 3000 spectators, Bannister almost pulled out of the race as it was exceptionally windy but the winds calmed down right before the race and he ran.
With pace setters Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher doing their job and sacrificing for the team, Bannister achieved his goal of 3:59:40 which was the first sub 4 minute mile! It was possible! What is amazing that 46 days later, the record was broken by his rival in 3:58. Several others were then able to break this record as they now knew and believed it was possible.
Belief is the first and most critical step in achieving a goal – no matter how audacious the goal is!
Jim Carrey’s $10 million dollar cheque
Jim Carrey grew up in a family that had financial challenges. He travelled with his family through various blue collar towns and had a hard time finding work and progressing his career in entertainment. His father took him to various comedy clubs but his acts and impersonations usually failed which is hard to believe. He then made what seemed to be a crazy decision. The physical act of writing this down and solidifying his ambition was an important step.
In 1985, Jim Carrey famously wrote a cheque dated 1995 to himself for $10 million dollars for acting services rendered. At the time he was living in poverty but was steadfast in his belief and continued to take actions and risks that ultimately led him to success. In 1995, he was paid $10 million for the hit movie ‘Dumb and Dumber’!
Several top athletes also have visualization rituals and picture themselves hitting big shots, home runs or scoring big goals which helps them achieve the great success that they ultimately achieve. This is an important tool in their overall arsenal.
How can we learn from these amazing stories?
A fascinating and amazing author and expert on the subject is John Assaraf. His compelling methodology involves creating a physical vison board with vivid images of what you want to achieve. You then keep the vision board in a place that ensures you look at it very often. I have created a vision board for myself and am convinced that it is a worthwhile experiment to keep my goals and dreams front and center.
His book expertly explains how the conscious mind has great intentions but is distracted every 6-10 seconds! If you combine that with the fact that we have amazing technology and apps at our fingertips, this adds to the distraction factor. I personally avoided social media for several years but have recently joined Instagram and enjoy it. There are several positive elements to social media but I frequently found myself unconsciously scrolling through posts which are entertaining but do consume a lot of time. My new rule is to treat Instagram like TV or any other entertainment and I plan on only checking it once or twice a day after 5pm.
John Assaraf does a fantastic job of explaining that the subconscious mind is much more powerful than the conscious mind. If we are very clear on what we want, it helps us focus our energy like a laser towards it’s target. Think about the last time you were evaluating a purchase (for example a car or pair of shoes) and how all of a sudden you frequently notice the makes and models that you are considering. The subconscious mind works in this way by sorting through millions of images and stimuli and filtering out what we are looking for.
Here are some of the steps that this method uses to help you achieve your goals and dreams.
Clearly identify your GOALS & DREAMS & write them down with as much specificity as possible and frequently review them.
“Create a crystal clear idea of what you want so your brain knows what to look for”. Along with making a bigger impact at work, some of my goals include travelling more with family, eating healthier, teaching at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, writing more and improving my soccer coaching skills. My vision board will have vivid images of these activities which are important to me. Many people live in ‘autopilot mode’ and tend to go with the flow and repeat patterns of behaviour over and over and get the same results. We all have the opportunity to bust out of patterns and habits that do not increase personal fulfillment.
VISUALIZATION is a technique used by many successful people. “The stories we tell ourselves have the ability to move us. If they are graphic enough, they have the power to shape our inner reality. As this happens, our outer reality will eventually conform to that new shape”. Movies are great examples of this and they often evoke emotion in us because the unconscious brain believes the stories are real! In this way we can all use visualization to move us forward.
Whatever your version of the 4 minute mile or Jim Carrey’s $10 million dollar cheque, use these techniques to:
1) Clearly identify your goals and dreams and write them out in as much detail as possible
2) Use a physical vision board to help burn this into your subconscious
3) Take positive action every day and stay the course. Remember that all successful journeys have hurdles along the way which are opportunities to learn in order to improve the next attempt.
By Ron Monteiro