If I write the name, Roger Bannister, does it sound familiar? For those of you who've never heard of Roger, he was the first person to officially run a mile in less than four minutes. He accomplished this feat on May 6th, 1954, setting a new world record with a time of, 3:59. The previous record of 4:01, stood for nine years, leading many fitness experts to believe that it was physically impossible for humans to run a mile in less than four minutes.
Roger breaking the four-minute mile barrier is a remarkable thing in and of itself. But there’s even more to add to this story. Only six weeks after Roger achieved, what for ages people thought was impossible, another runner from Australia by the name of John Landy broke Bannister’s record, becoming the second person to run a sub-four mile, and setting his own new world record with a time of 3:58. And ever since Bannister and Landy broke that speed barrier, mid-distance runners have never looked back.
On The Growing Trend of "Life Coaching"
I’m both a student and a fan of the self-help industry. I’ve been using online resources to improve myself and skills for nearly ten years. However, one of the things I've noticed lately is that there seems to be an increasing emergence of people marketing themselves online as, “life coaches”. The claims vary, but essentially they’re along the lines of:
“I’ll help train you to become your best self.” or “Work with me and I’ll boost your confidence to help you get what you want.”
The concept of having a coach for life seems awesome at first. But every time I read something like this, I can't help but remember the story of Roger Bannister. While I’m sure Roger had coaches helping him train, people actually thought it was impossible for humans to run a mile in less than four minutes. Which is why it's so strange that John Landy also broke Roger’s run-of-a-lifetime record only six weeks later. To me, what this suggests is that an impossible barrier is nothing but a mental construct or narrative. If you accept the barrier as fact, and that what you're trying to do is impossible, so you shall find it. If instead, you see somebody else doing the very thing you thought was impossible, you will think to yourself, “Well, if he can do it..”. Thus, I suspect that the absolute best way to coach or inspire someone to become their best self isn’t actually through coaching, but through leading by example.
My Life as My Message
Mahatma Gandhi said, “My life is my message.” His commitment to nonviolent protest and the liberation of his people was heard through his choice medium of communication, his leadership. Take another look at that word, LEADership. Great leaders of the world charge the front lines, going where others can’t, or wont, dare to tread.
Before the Wright Brothers took their flight in North Carolina in 1903, people used to say that if humans were meant to fly, we’d have been born with wings. Sixty-seven years after that first flight, in 1969, humanity witnessed Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Proving once again, that there's tremendous inspirational power in stepping beyond impossible barriers and expanding the universe of possibilities.
So Just Show Me What’s Possible
If everyone’s investing their time coaching everyone else, who’s busting their ass on the track breaking records? Who’s in the back of the bicycle shop sketching blueprints for motorized gliders? My intention isn't to rain on the life coaching parade, rather to suggest that the best way to be a life coach, is actually to coach and lead with your own life.
At the time of publishing, the current world record for the mile is held by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, whose time is 3:43. I want to clarify here that the purpose of this essay isn’t intended to motivate you via my sideline commentary. As previously stated, the world has enough people cheering already. This is more of an open message to all the life coaches out there; if you really want to help and motivate other people. If you want to lead and inspire me, I don’t actually need you to hold my hand. Instead, just show me what’s possible.