¹ "The reason the myth took hold was that four minutes was a nice round number which was slightly better (1.4 seconds) than the world record for nine years, longer than it probably otherwise would have been because of the effect of World War II in interrupting athletic progress in the combatant countries."Then on May 6, 1954, during a meet between British AAA and Oxford University, Mr. Roger Banister finally broke the world record. He ran the mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds, and achieved what others had claimed to be physically impossible.
Since that amazing feat in 1954, eighteen people have gone on to best that mile record, along with thousands of other people who have since been able to break the 4 minute mile.
Why am I telling you this story? Because this story changed how I live my life today.
You see, for the majority of my young adult life:
- I believed that in order to have money and be happy, I had to get a "job".
- I believed that it was a true sign of success to live a very high consumption lifestyle.
- I believed that debt was a "normal" and necessary way of living.
- I believed that exercise was a waste of time.
- I believed that animal products were healthy.
- I believed that I had no choice but to put up with negative and toxic relationships.
- I believed that it was a good idea to party like there was no tomorrow.
- I believed that driving a new car was a smart idea.
- I believed that it was normal to get fatter as I got older.
- I believed that prescription medications were the solution to a lot of our country's health problems.
Basically I believed in a lot of the same things that the vast majority of our society believed (and still believes) to be true, and that made me feel comfortable and accepted by everyone around me.
But beneath that superficial life that I was portraying to the outside world through overpriced apartments and expensive clothing and cars, I was a very unhappy person. I kept trying to fill my life in with all the things I thought I needed to get people to like me, but deep down I knew that this was really no way to live.
The Turning Point
Looking back, in many ways I was incredibly fortunate that the powers-that-be intervened and essentially forced me to make the necessary changes in my life that I had been unwilling to make on my own. Several of my formerly rock-solid belief systems had been abruptly taken away from me and I had to choose whether I wanted to sink or swim -- thankfully I chose to swim.
A lot of very tempting options presented themselves to me during that fragile phase of my life. For instance: When I was without transportation while living in Florida, I easily could have gone to one of those shady car lots that will let you finance a vehicle for zero down in exchange for an outrageously overpriced monthly payment -- but instead I chose to be "weird" and rode my bike to work instead.
There was no way of knowing it at the time, but when I made that decision to not do what everybody else would have done, something changed inside me. It was like an enormous stone had been thrown into the giant pond that was my life. That one decision had caused a new ripple in the way I made decisions, and it completely changed me.
More importantly though, that decision gave me the confidence to open my eyes and see the obvious flaws associated with following the crowd and doing what everybody else does.
Whenever I look at stories like these, they give me the inspiration and encouragement I need to pursue my own dreams without worrying that they might not come true. Thanks to people like Roger Bannister, I now believe that I can pursue and accomplish anything I set my mind to -- regardless of whether people believe it's possible or not.
Ever since I decided to live my life in this way, I have:
- lost one hundred and thirty pounds.
- quit smoking cigarettes on my own.
- reaped the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet.
- found my own unique blend of faith that resonates with my heart and soul.
- met and married the most amazing woman in the world!
- ran and biked thousands upon thousands of miles.
- learned how to live from my heart.
- learned how to accept (and be) myself, regardless of what other people think.
- discovered happiness and fulfillment in my life and work.
- learned to live comfortably below my means, free from the confines of debt.
- learned self disciplined.
- learned to take responsibility for my own health and not depend on health insurance or medicine to get me through life.
- become an all around better human being.
Now when I look at the things I'm trying to accomplish in my life -- instead of searching high and low for made up rules or ancient excuses as to why something is impossible or why something can't be done (like most people do) -- I choose to search high and low for the people who have successfully done what I am trying to do, and I follow their lead. If I can't find anyone, then it's up to me to create the exception to that particular rule so that others can follow in my footsteps.
Just think about all the things that have been accomplished in this world that were once believed by the masses to be impossible, and how all it took was one or two individuals to change our world forever. What's stopping you from being the next Henry Ford or Roger Bannister or Steve Jobs? What myth or false belief might be holding you back from achieving your own dreams of becoming the person you ultimately want to be? What can you do today that will put you on the path towards being that person?
Nobody should have to settle for an average life. Whatever you want to do, if you believe in your heart you can do it, then you can do it. No matter what your dreams may be, my sincere hope is that you figure out what they are and let nothing stop you from achieving them.
You know, we only have this one life. So why not take full advantage of your creativity and your curiosity while you still have the chance? Strive to become the change that you want to see in this world -- and then don't stop until you do it!
Remember, it's only impossible until somebody else does it.
¹ Roger Bannister - Wikipedia