What is your four-minute barrier?

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Dec 2018 12:46:15


By nitin bakshi,

We come across so many youngsters who don’t know why they are unable to do anything worth-while in life. Whenever you ask them as to why they are unable to do what they actually wanted to do. They have those typical answers. I did whatever was possible for me. This was the best I can do. Luck was not in my favour and the list goes on.

When they say that it was the best they could do, they certainly do not know what they were capable of. They are the ones who made up their mind not to do anything different. When they make up their mind, their mind also accepts that they want to go up to a certain extent only. When your limitations are recognised by your mind, it creates a kind of mental barrier in mind. Thereafter whenever you try or even think of crossing that barrier to do something different in your life, your mind reminds you of the barrier and stops you from doing the different.

The story of Roger Bannister is no different from this kind of thinking process. Once you go through this article, you will be able to understand the concept of mental barrier. If you think you can do a particular act, you will certainly be able to do it. But if you have the slightest of doubt in your mind about your ability to do it, it is for sure that you will not be able to do it.

It was widely believed during the period of 1940 to 1945 that no human can run distance of a mile in less than four minutes. During that period or prior to that it was believed to be almost universally true that a race of a mile can’t be completed within four minutes. During that period in the year 1945 a Swedish athlete, Gunder Haegg had clocked the best time ever for 4 minutes and 1.4 seconds for running a mile. That was by far the best by any athlete.

It was not that the sporting techniques, the coaches or the athletes were not developed during that period. But somehow or the other the sports doctors, who looked after physical as well as psychological aspects, were convinced that it was beyond the capacity of any human being to complete the distance of one mile in less than 4 minutes. Naturally, the coaches who did their best to prepare the athletes for the races also thought that even if they try their best to prepare the athletes to the optimum level, it would still be more than four minutes.

When the doctors and coaches were completely convinced, the athletes had no option but to listen to the hypothetical theories about how they would find it difficult to complete the distance of one mile in less than four minutes. Going by the details of the theories, the athletes had to convince themselves that any race for a mile would require more than four minutes. That is how the things would proceed. Further to that, as the record set by the Swedish athlete for a one mile race was intact for several years, everybody believed what was being propagated by the sports doctors and the coaches as the thumb rule.

Then it turned 1954. John Landy who himself was an accomplished mile distance runner clocked 4 minutes and 2 seconds three times during the year 1954 and got himself convinced that the barrier of 4 minutes was like a hard wall and hence could not be broken. During the same period, Roger Bannister, a British athlete, had something different in his mind. Roger was an athlete as well as a doctor by profession. While training himself very hard physically for the race, he studied the aspect of this four minute barrier in detail. Afterwards he came to a certain conclusion about it.

Then Roger Bannister performed the miracle on May 6, 1954 in a track and field event in London. During the event in a one mile race, Roger clocked a timing of 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds to write his name in the history of track and field event. Everyone was astonished at the superlative performance of Roger Bannister. His performance was hailed as a pure miracle by one and all.

When Roger was asked about this phenomenal feat, he calmly said that he could create history, because he prepared his mind not to accept the mental barrier of four minute. Once his mind refused to accept the mental barrier created in the mind of almost all athletes, his body also joined in the refusal process and co-operated his mind in achieving this world class feat. The rejuvenated combination of his mind and body was ready for the ultimate action and went on to rewrite the history books in the track and field event in London in the year 1954. What Roger Bannister did in London was supposed to be impossible.

Friends, once Roger broke the mental barrier, it was being believed in the sporting fraternity that 4 minute barrier was nothing but a mental misconception. The athletes world over thanked Roger for breaking the barrier once and for all. You all will be surprised to note that later within few months the barrier of 4 minutes was broken sixteen times at various track and field events. John Landy himself complete the race in the time of less than four minutes. The mental barrier was well and truly smashed.

By now you must have understood that nothing extra-ordinary actually happened. Neither the bodies of the athletes got stronger nor the rules changed. It is just that the mental barrier in the minds of the athletes was broken. The self limiting belief that a mile can’t be run in under four minutes – was shattered by a hard working as well as brilliant athlete.

We all have beliefs about what we can achieve and what we can’t. Our success is limited by those barriers. Even our efforts are also restricted by these barriers. We don’t try because we see those barriers and we believe that they are there.

Life is all about breaking barriers. We should leap across and clean over those little invisible fences. We must find out our four minute barrier: What is holding you back? Find out and then shatter the barrier once and for all.
(The author is Director, Akola and can be reached at mybolibakshi.com)