In 1954 Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile; an achievement most people at the time considered to be impossible. Barely 6 weeks later this record was broken again by a Finn and within 12 months another 3 runners had bettered that revered time. The current world record stands at a very impressive 3 minutes 43 seconds.
So did people suddenly become so much fitter? Well these days with the benefit of hyper-training routines, computerized performance analysis and stringent diets they clearly are but in the mid fifties I doubt whether any of these factors had an effect. The difference was all psychological; a condition not just restricted to athletics I feel.
The other day I was doing some coaching with a salesman. We got around to talking about targets at which point he made the alarming statement that he was aiming for 80% of his target because that was the lowest figure allowed before people were asked to seek their fortune elsewhere. I was more shocked than Carlo Ancelotti after the Wolves game (we won you know).
If the 4 minute mile tells us anything it is that targets are for the most part arbitrary and their achievement mostly controlled by psychological factors. As soon as you focus on a goal and believe it to be achievable you are much more likely to reach it.
80% pah! I say aim for 150%, or more, and apply all your efforts and powers of creativity to make it a reality. It is our beliefs not our abilities that dictate our level of success.
Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles / Free Digital Photos.net