The power of self belief

Bannister RecordThe human body is incredible. It continually amazes us as athletes reach higher levels of achievement. Yet the mind – although less understood – is every bit as impressive, powerful and also drives performance.

During May 1954, Roger Bannister ran the first recorded four minute mile. It was a goal which had eluded the best middle distance runners for some time. Bannister proved that your lungs wouldn’t burst with the effort of such a fast run. Weeks later during July’s Commonwealth Games, two more athletes ran sub-four minute miles: in the same race!

Proof that it could be done stripped away any remaining doubt. Other runners began to believe they could do the same. What people believed they could do, they focussed on, then they achieved. Since then many more have equalled this feat. And the record is now 3 minutes and 43.13 seconds.

The criteria for success were both constants. A mile has always been the same distance. And 4 minutes the same length of time. It was self belief which had a transformative effect on performance.

So how is self belief relevant to learning? In several ways:

  • attitude, belief, determination are more important in determining success than ability is
  • self belief creates a focus and a determination to succeed
  • a motivated person can achieve almost anything.

Belief provides motivation. And motivation sustains us in our endeavours. As for me: Banister’s achievement gave me a focus and resolve and although I’m no sprinter it helped me as I trained for my first marathon a few years ago. Completing that, and others since, have been truly positive experiences.

As I work with learners I’m reminded of the importance of finding out what motivates the individuals as they prepare to change and grow. Once we’ve established their motivation, the relevance of their journey and they find reasons to believe in themselves, then, almost anything is possible!