The Four-Minute Mile

You must be wondering as to what is the four-minute mile. Well, let me tell you a story- the story of the four-minute mile. For a long time, it was believed that a human being could not run the mile in less than four minutes. There was a legend saying that in Ancient Egypt, lions were released after slaves to achieve the four-minute mile, but with no luck. The best that anyone could achieve was 4:06. Research conducted at that time concluded that if any person tries to run the mile in less than four minutes, his ‘heart would jump out of his body.’ This continued until a man named Roger Bannister decided to disbelieve the experts. He underwent rigorous training and ran the mile in less than four minutes in 1954. What’s more, the next year almost 40 runners accomplished the hitherto impossible. And guess what, their hearts did not jump out of their bodies!!!!

Bannister believed in himself, despite what the others thought. He trained himself for almost a year and said that he actually pictured himself running the four-minute mile, even though no one had done it before. What he did was not merely run the four-minute mile; he inspired others to do so as well. As you can see, 40 people were able to accomplish the mile in the next year itself.

I could have used a conventional title like perseverance, self-belief, achieving the impossible etcetera, but then I would not have been able to hold your interest beyond the title. Hence the four-minute mile. What we can draw from this story is that it is possible to dream and accomplish the impossible, if one has conviction in his dreams and the courage to actually work towards making those dreams a reality. If there was anyone who understood this better than others, it was Irving Stone. He was a writer who devoted a lifetime writing biographies of people like Michelangelo, Darwin, Jack London, Vincent van Gogh, Earl Warren and other eminent personalities. When asked if there was anything common to all of them, he replied-‘I write about people who sometime in their life have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished and they go to work to accomplish it.’

Agreed that there are bound to be obstacles while working on any difficult task, but we must learn to battle against all odds because struggle is what leads to growth. As Samuel Smiles has aptly said- ‘The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.’

We tend to give up very easily on our dreams after facing a minor roadblock and set another goal for ourselves. Rather, what we should do is get up after a failure and turn it into success. There are not many people who succeed the first tie they try. Well, I for sure am not one of them.

As you all know, Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb the mighty Mount Everest. He scaled the peak in 1953 and was lauded for this feat. However, what many of us do not know is how he achieved it. This was not the first time he had climbed the mountain. He had tried and failed a year earlier in 1952. But since he had tried, he was asked to address and motivate a group of people in England. As he walked up to the stage, he was greeted by an overwhelming applause. Knowing that he had not done anything to motivate anyone, he stepped away from the microphone. Next, he made a fist and pointed it at a picture of the Himalayas. He then said-‘Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all that you could….but I am still growing.’ And the rest is history. Take another example- Vidya Balan was rejected as many as ten times before landing her first film. Today, she is the actress who has won the Filmfare Best Actress Award thrice in four years.

It is not just these handful people. Any successful person will have a tale describing the difficulties and struggles he has faced before actually tasting success. But it is their belief in their dreams, the determination to face all challenges and the strength to rise again after failures and grow that has made them successful.

Opportunities and challenges do not change or grow; but we as human beings have the capacity to grow and develop everyday. Conceded that in today’s world more is less and we have to achieve a lot in order to make a place for ourselves. But look around you and you are bound to find a role model in your seniors, teachers or anybody you admire. We must draw inspiration from them and keeping working; most importantly never stop believing in ourselves. I would conclude by saying that believe in yourself and run your four-minute mile!!!

Kudrat Agrawal

An avid writer who loves reading and listening to music. An amateur photographer and at the same time a movie junkie!!!

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