Facing the Impossible?

By: Jan Bolick

Here is an inspirational story to share with your team or an individual when she is feeling down or discouraged or feeling like she is being asked to do the impossible. This story plus some problem solving may be just what is needed to boost morale and productivity.

roger bannisterOn May 5, 1954 , Roger Bannister did something that scientific and athletic communities considered humanly impossible. He ran a mile in less than 4 minutes.

It seems the barrier just needed to be broken because only six weeks later, his record was beaten by 1.4 seconds. Since that time hundreds have surpassed it. And now running a 4 minute mile is the is now the standard of all professional middle distance runners.

In business there are many seemingly impossible obstacles. What can we learn from Bannister about breaking through barriers?

He went to Oxford and wanted to play a sport. Knowing he was too light for rowing and not skilled enough for rugby, he chose running because he said, “I knew I could run.”

He also said:

  • “The choice of speed, route, distance or company is totally yours.”
  • “Sport is about adapting to the unexpected and being able to modify plans at the last minute.”
  • “Sport – like life – is about taking risks.”
  • “You find out by trial and error what the optimal level of training is. If I found I was training too hard, I would drop it for a day or two. I didn’t run for five days before the sub-four minute mile”

I boiled these down into eight Barrier Breaking Tips from Roger Bannister

  1. Be aware of your skill set
  2. Take responsibility for making choices
  3. Take risks
  4. Make a plan
  5. Adapt to the unexpected
  6. Work really hard
  7. Know when to rest
  8. Work with a coach

Okay – so he didn’t mention his coach in the comments above. But we know the importance of having someone to help with #1-7 because sometimes we are too tired or too scared or too close to the trees. So we get confused or make excuses or give up on our goals and dreams.

I hope you will use this story and these tips to help those who rely on you for coaching.

And if you don’t have someone helping you in this way…please call on me. For the last 30 years, I’ve been helping business leaders reach their goals – often against long odds. I love the challenge, the process and the celebrations.

Send me an e-mail now to tell me about your goal and I’ll tell you if I can help you get there.

Meanwhile – post this quote as a reminder.

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