May 5, 2009

Doing the impossible

4 Minute Mile

Image copyright: balakov

55 years ago tomorrow, 6th May 1954, Roger Bannister became the first man to break the 4 minute barrier, running the mile in 3:59.4. The report only made page 8 of the next day’s Times but it changed the world.

After being dropped six times during the war years the mile record was stuck. For nine years every attempt to push the record below four minutes had failed. Was the four minute barrier an absolute?

Bannister settled it. 46 days later Australia’s John Landy broke the mark again.

Now everyone realised what Bannister had known all along. The clock wasn’t the problem, there was no four minute barrier, they was only a psychological one.

Bannister was convinced that he could break through the barrier. His goal was clear, he had a plan, and used bucket loads of commitment and determination to see it through.

Organisations can suffer from old time milers’ fear; failing to deal with self imposed barriers.

He won’t support it, I’ll never get the budget, they won’t let me, I can’t call her, it’s too hard, it’s impossible.

But it is possible. Bannister showed the way; set out a clear goal, work out what has to be done, put the pieces in place, execute.

Tags: , ,