I know, I know, it’s May 7 — but sometimes it’s the day after a big day that counts. Let me explain: May 6, 1954 is a legendary day in sports and human history. Here’s why: It’s the day that Roger Bannister, a British medical student, made history by breaking the four-minute mile. Just about everyone thought it was impossible do: The medical community warned that a runner’s heart would explode at that pace. Even Roger thought it might be true, but he ran it anyway.
But here’s something even more amazing I’ve learned about Roger, thanks to my friend and mentor Rob Gilbert’s fabulous Success Hotline (973.743.4690): he only trained 45 minutes a day! That’s right: while his competitors were practicing long hours, Roger put in less than 60 minutes a day. After all, he was a medical student with a full work-and-study schedule; he didn’t have any stray minutes to spare.
But as Rob says, “It’s not how much time you put in, it’s how much you put in the time.” Roger made up in intensity what he lacked in quantity. He’s surely a beacon of inspiration for of us who have limited time to write each day. If Roger could run his way into the history books footfall by footfall, well then, we can write our way in word by word. And as Roger proves, we don’t need tons of time to do it, we just need commitment, focus, intensity, and discipline.
Here are two more fascinating facts in this story. First, right after Roger broke the barrier, other people left and right began running four minutes miles. By proving it was possible, he made it probable. Second, when Roger ran his way into history, he was rebounding from a huge defeat: He had just recently competed in the Olympics, but failed to medal, though he was England’s great hope. After wiping out in the Olympics, instead of giving up, he set an even bigger goal: becoming the first man in history to run the four-minute mile — and dedicated himself to it. Now that’s persistence! Ultimately, Roger hung up his track shoes and became a world-class neurologist. He was also knighted, not once, but twice. What a story! Write on.