What’s Your “4-Minute Mile”?

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29th July, 2022

Every game in life is actually played on a 6-inch ground –

the space between your two ears.

Our mind and body are basically lazy. They always want to rest and hence they keep on passing signals to each other to slow down, to rest, to take it easy.

You will have to override those signals and the internal interference to achieve what you have set out for.

Performance is potential minus internal interference”.

Years ago, it was believed that no human being could ever break the 4-minute mile barrier.

But after Roger Bannister broke it in 1954, many more replicated his feat within weeks.

As of April 2021, the “four-minute barrier” has been broken by 1,663 athletes, and is now a standard of professional middle distance runners in several cultures.


Because he showed people what was possible and then

armed with that belief, people did the impossible.

In business too, progress does not move in straight lines.

Whether it’s an executive, an entrepreneur, or a technologist, some innovator changes the game, and that which was thought to be unreachable becomes a benchmark, something for others to shoot for.

That’s Roger Bannister’s true legacy and lesson for all of us who see the role of leadership as doing things that haven’t been done before.

In fact, two Wharton School professors have analyzed the lessons for business of the four-minute mile.

In their book, ‘The Power of Impossible Thinking,’ Yoram Wind and Colin Crook  devote an entire chapter to an assessment of Bannister’s feat, and emphasize the mindset behind it rather than the physical achievement.

How is it, they wonder, that so many runners smashed the four-minute barrier after

Bannister became the first to do it?

“Was there a sudden growth spurt in human evolution? Was there a genetic engineering experiment that created a new race of super runners?


What changed was the mental model. The runners of the past had been held back by a mindset that said they could not surpass the four-minute mile. When that limit was broken, the others saw that they could do something they had previously thought impossible.”

Mental models are what allow organizations and their leaders to try not just to be the best at what everyone else can do, but to do things that only they can do — which, over time, shows others what it possible. They don’t accept the limitations, tradeoffs, and middle-of-the-road sensibilities that define conventional wisdom. In other words, great leaders don’t just out-perform their rivals. They transform the sense of what’s possible in their fields.

What’s your “4-minute mile”? A belief that you have told yourself, a task you can’t achieve?

What excuse are you giving yourself?

Let it go, follow your dream and stay blessed forever.