Breaking Mental Barriers
13th August 2013
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right”. They say the universe has a special way of gauging your thoughts and echoing it multiple times over. And if you truly desire something, with all your heart & soul, then all the forces in the universe conspire to make it come true. Simply stated, it is the law of attraction.
One such person was Roger Bannister, who wanted nothing more than to run a mile in less than four minutes. Like all things destined by the law of attraction, Roger Bannister got what he wanted. He set the world record for running a mile in the shortest time possible – a feat largely considered impossible before. Roger ran the mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds on 6th May, 1954.
Many leaders quote his example and point out that it is just the mindset, or the mental barrier that prevents you from achieving something in life. But we also know that nothing great was ever achieved by a single person. There is always a great team behind every great achievement. And so was the case with Roger Bannister. He set the record as an individual, but it was a team accomplishment.
I chanced up on a video that focused on the remarkable winning race and his team. Yes, he had a team – and the race choreographed by their coach Franz Stampfl. His two companions were Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway. When the race began, they ran as a team, not against each other. The first half of the mile Brasher took lead. Bannister was a second close. The third quarter Chataway took over and in the final lap, Bannister ran the best race of his life and set the four-minute mile record. So all the while that he was trying alone, he could not make it. And the moment he brought in his team, he achieved the impossible. It's all in the mind.
In doing this, they showed the world that it could be done. They changed the game. Roger, during his interview, confessed to having challenged Brasher’s lead in the first 2 laps. He wanted Brasher to run “Faster” but Brasher kept his cool and refused to speed up. If you notice carefully and hear Bannister again, he confesses further that he collapsed almost unconsciously towards the end, but he knew he made it. Now, had Brasher gone any faster earlier, Bannister wouldn’t have made the mark. They would be sitting in the locker room dealing with each other.
A couple of weeks later, an Australian, John Landy managed to do it – he achieved the 4 minute mile. And thereafter many others achieved the same, to the point, that Roger Bannister wouldn't qualify for the Olympics if he stood by the same record he set. The crux of the matter is that mental barriers only exist in our heads. They are the ones that make or mar our games. Secondly, only clarity of vision can help you focus and achieve your goals. Bannister and his team knew what they had to do. For them “under 4 minutes” was success, anything other than that was failure. The third most important element of this success story is that even though it appears that an individual has won, the victory is never achieved without an A+ team with a great sense of purpose and personal sacrifice. Understanding the team dynamics and respecting the leader and his decisions is the glue that holds together a team. Roger Bannister was the leader who became famous, but had Franz Stampfl, Chataway and Brasher not shown leadership in their roles and made personal sacrifices of anonymity, the four-minute mile victory would have continued to evade them.
The good news is – I already have a great team! Instead of individual thinking and individual progress, I truly appreciate what we do as a team, for us to win as an organization and not alone. It is no wonder that BMC India is what I believe it to be - An Awesome Org!