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Thursday, 15 January 2015

The 4 Minute Mile - Certainty in yourself

I heard the story of the 4 minute mile last week while on a call and it stuck with me.  I wanted to share the story of the 4 Minute Mile with my team because I think it really speaks to the Power of Believing in yourself.  I googled it and started to take notes from what I found out, but my notes inadvertently turned into a blog post. 

For years, experts said that the human body was simply not capable of a 4-minute mile.  It wasn’t just dangerous; it was impossible.

It is said that people had tried for over a thousand years to break the barrier, but it was just not doable. 

In the 1940’s, the mile record was pushed to 4:01, where it stood for nine years, as runners struggled with the idea that, just maybe, the experts had it right.  Perhaps the human body had reached its limit.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, running the distance in 3:59.4.  As part of his training, he relentlessly visualized the achievement in order to create a sense of certainty in his mind and body.

Roger Bannister training in 1954
in the year he became the first man to
run a mile in under 4 minutes. 

Barely a year after Bannister’s accomplishment, someone else ran a mile in under 4 minutes. Then some more runners did it too. Now, it’s almost routine.  Even strong high-schoolers today run 4-minute miles. 

But once he crashed through that barrier, the rest of the world saw that it was possible, and the previous record that had stood for nine years was broken routinely.

I love this story.  I don’t know how much of it is true; I’m sure some of the details have been blurred over the years. Either way, it doesn’t matter.  I’ve witnessed firsthand what a little certainty can do.

Because Roger proved to the world that it could be done.  Suddenly more runners were certain is was possible.  That certainty is what I believe allowed each one that followed to be able to accomplish the goal themselves. 

When you become certain of something, when every part of your makeup believes it because you focus on it every single day, something “magical” happens. Really this isn’t just about the Law of attraction or “the secret”. We have a system in our bodies called the reticular activating system (RAS) that helps our brains decide what information to focus on and what to delete.

When you have a clearly-defined purpose, a mission, a WHY and when you live every moment in a state of certainty that you’ll achieve it, you influence what your RAS filters out and what lights it up.  As a result, you pay special attention things that help you achieve what you’re after, things you otherwise would have never noticed.

I have experienced this and I truly believe in the power of certainty. 

How you get to the point where you are certain of your goal, mission or your WHY, it takes practice however.  As I said above Roger Bannister relentlessly visualized himself achieving his ultimate goal.  In fact I have read that he did not have the proper time to train to run the mile in less than 4 minutes and that it was more mental training than physical.  

You first need to convince yourself that it is possible and you can make your WHY a reality.  Believe it, and push towards that belief with the knowledge that the steps you take, or don’t take each day will ultimately decide whether YOU MAKE IT HAPPEN or not. 

For example: Sally wants to lose 20 pounds and lower her blood pressure because her doctor is concerned and she wants to be around for her children.  She has her WHY set. 

Week 1: She wakes up early each day to workout and make a healthy breakfast and lunch before work, but she isn't seeing any results right away.  (Insta-results don’t exist)
Week 2: Sally slept in 3 times, skipped breakfast and didn’t have time to prepare a healthy lunch for herself because she wasn't certain that she could achieve her goals since they didn't happen right away. 
Week 3: Sally  is back to her old routines and nothing has changed. She feels defeated and will likely try again in a month or two with the same results. 


Week 1: Sally wakes up early each day to workout, make a healthy breakfast and lunch and reads 15 minutes of a personal development book like the compound effect which refocuses her mind and drives her forward with a determination because she is learning that small steps each day add up to big results. (she is building a foundation of belief and certainty)
Week 2: Sally continues with her routine and is starting to see the positive outcomes of her changes in small ways.  Her mornings run smoother, and she is in a better mood through out the day, she has lost a few pounds too. 
Week 3: Sally starts making more positive changes to her lifestyle because she has started to see clearly the path towards her goal and is paying special attention to things that will help her to achieve it. 

So becoming certain that you will achieve your goal isn't something that you can just turn on like a light switch.  It takes work to teach yourself to believe in your WHY.  BUT as in the example above, the 15 minutes Sally put in each day changed the outcome and made the first week of change count for something.  

Why waist your momentum when you can teach your self to hold on to it and use it to reach your goals?

We have all been there.  We are motivated to make a change and we may stay on track for a few days, a week or even a month.  But eventually you lose sight of the goal, or something comes up that throws you off and slowly but surely the plan gets derailed and you have lost your momentum.  So make a plan to hold on to your momentum, by gaining and keeping the certainty that you will achieve your goal.

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