Statue of John Landy of Australia and Roger Bannister of England. (Photograph by Paul Joseph. Creative Commons.)
Last week I began my second year as assistant cross country coach at a small prep school, open to students’ grades 6 through 12. As we gathered together at practice on my first day with the team I reminisced a bit. I couldn’t help but think about the promising potential for this year’s team, based on the progress and season ending performances last year by the returning runners. I also could not help but wonder what was going through the mind of each of the runners at this very moment about their own potential and their goals for the season.
How many of them are thinking that this can and will be a special year? How many are actually imagining the best possible outcome this year for themselves and the team? How many are truly excited and determined to give their all to the dedicated action they need to take in order to make this an outstanding season for themselves and the team? Most importantly how many are certain that they will maximize their talent and achieve their goals?
As a coach I like to help people (in this case young athletes) work often and hard training their mind in order to imagine and create that constant sense of certainty that what they want to accomplish physically is happening. I like to assist them to overcome any and all limiting thoughts that might stand in the way of outstanding achievement.
As I see it the person who is full of confidence and really determined to win at what they do can accomplish great things. It’s the doubts that creep in. It’s the fear of failure or the embarrassment that might accompany it. But mainly it’s the inability to think with certainty the really big thoughts and dreams of achievement that keep many from bringing their talents to full capability.
Roger Bannister, way back in 1954 ran a mile distance in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. He was the first person to run a sub-four-minute mile. Until he did it, it was widely believed to be impossible. As legend has it, experts had been saying for years that the human body was not capable of a 4 minute mile. It wasn’t just dangerous, it was simply impossible. But it turns out the so called experts were wrong.
Roger Bannister proved it was possible to run a sub-four-minute mile. When he did he opened the then existing restrictive door in the minds of all runners. As others were now certain it was possible the times just kept getting faster. These days even strong high school runners run 4 minute miles and the mile record has been shaved nearly 17 seconds standing at 3 minutes 43.13 seconds today.
When we have a clearly defined purpose and when we live every moment in a state of visualized achievement in order to create a sense of certainty in mind and body that we are achieving what we want, we pay special attention to things (at practice) that help us achieve what we’re after and something “magical” happens.
Every communication sent to the team from coaches includes this quote from Steve Prefontaine, best known as the runner who once held the U.S. record in every long-distance event, “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” If we give our best (coaches and runners) and we’re able to create that “Roger Bannister” type certainty we may not win it all this season, but we will have the very best season that our combined gifts (talents) will allow.
William “Bud” Hart is a certified “Mindset” Coach, Accountability Partner and Business Consultant. Visit Hart Group, www.hartgroupma.com for more on coaching.