“No human is limited. It’s not about the legs. It’s about the heart and mind. With a strong heart and good mind you can do it. If you don’t rule your mind it can rule you.” – Eliud Kipchoge
On Saturday, Olympic marathon champion, Eliud Kipchoge went where no human had ever been before. Aiming to be the first person to ever run a marathon in under two hours, he fell agonisingly short, by just 25 seconds. He did, however, smash the previous marathon world- record (although it wasn’t official).
This epic event, planned & run (pardon the pun) by Nike, was three years in the making and was designed to push the human mind & body to the absolute limits and test what is possible.
Kipchoge was one of three athletes selected for the record-breaking attempt after numerous physiological & mental tests over the past 2 years. Before the race started, the scientists were confident they had 3 guys capable of breaking 2 hours as the data from testing showed it was possible. As it turned out, the task was too much for the other two athletes as Kipchoge was the only one who got close to breaking the 2-hour mark.
Throughout the race, the commentators and the clips of the scientists involved in the project kept referring to the fact that Kipchoge deeply believed that he was going to run under 2 hours while they often referred to the ‘potential’ of the other two athletes.
While Kipchoge didn’t achieve his goal of breaking 2 hours, it was his belief that it was possible that got him so close. Although some would say he failed to achieve his goal, he did much better than anyone has ever done before and showed what is possible in the future.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill
THE MIND CONTROLS THE BODY
A marathon is seen as an incredible test of a person’s mind and body. You’re likely to hear anyone who has run a marathon say that it’s one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. While the body goes through incredible pain throughout the 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles), it’s the mindset and mental battles that keeps a person going, no matter how much they are hurting. The body will never give up until the mind does!
Breaking down previously perceived barriers starts with your mindset and the belief that it’s possible. If you don’t believe you can do something or that you’re not good enough, then you won’t be. As Mahatma Gandhi once said:
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I shall have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it, even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
BELIEF VS HOPE
The opposite of belief is hope. Those that don’t believe in themselves hope that they are good enough.
‘I hope I get runs today.’ ‘I hope I bowl well.’ ‘I hope I nail that job interview.’
While hope can be seen as optimism (I’m all about being positive so I’d much rather people be optimistic than pessimistic) the best athletes, artists, musicians, business people etc. don’t rely on hope but instead get their preparation right and have a deep belief in themselves! It’s the belief that it’s possible that allows ordinary humans to achieve extraordinary things.
Eliud Kipchoge crossing the finish line after running the fastest marathon ever!
THE WORLD’S BEST
Whether it’s Kipchoge smashing previous human limitations, Sachin Tendulkar scoring the first ODI double-hundred, Shoaib Akhtar breaking 160km/h for the first time or Shane Warne’s ‘Gatting ball’, nothing extraordinary has ever been achieved by fluke or chance.
They set goals, make a plan, then take action to execute the plan. And most importantly they believe that they can achieve it. When their time comes to perform, they feel ready and trust their preparation. When David Warner was battling for runs in the recent Test series in India he was asked by the media about his struggles:
“The runs aren’t coming for me at the moment. That will come, it will turn around. I just have to keep being disciplined and making sure that my preparation is still the same.”
Note that he didn’t mention that he ‘hopes he gets runs’. And he did mention “it will turn around.” Although he wasn’t getting the results he would have wanted, he still had deep belief that the runs would come and was more focused on what he could control – getting his preparation right, as opposed to the outcome.
At the time of writing this article, Warner has turned his form around and is currently the leading run-scorer in the IPL. While in the past Warner has been accused of being ‘arrogant’, his belief in himself is undeniable and is one of the reasons he’s so successful!
As the old saying goes, ‘form is temporary, class is permanent.’ And class starts with your mindset and believing that you’re class.