Mile News

What Our Heroes Teach Us About Perspective

August 06, 2012

By John Baldoni, Forbes

Of the many wonderful outcomes of the 2012 London Olympics is the attention that Roger Bannister, the first man to run the sub-4 minute Mile, now in his eighties is receiving.

When I was growing up, Bannister was a hero of mine. I ran track in high school and the Mile was my specialty, or should I say, the distance assigned to me since I was not particularly fast. I would daydream about what it took to run so fast over such a distance. As Bannister puts it now, “the real secret is that I’ve worked hard.” That pertains also to his career in medicine.

In an interview with John Burns of the New York Times, Dr. Bannister, discussed what it was like to be the first human to break the record, but that is not what he considered his proudest achievement. Bannister was a doctor in training when he broke the record in 1954 at Iffley Road in Oxford. He later became a noted neurologist.  “[Medicine] to me is a greater source of satisfaction than happening to move my body at a certain speed for a few moments in 1954.”

What we gain from Bannister’s example is perspective – to evaluate your life in terms of what you contribute. Such evaluation can be hard when you are wrapped up in your work.

So the ability to step back from what you do is critical. One way to do this is by having a hobby, or an avocation. After all, Bannister balanced his medical studies with training for the Mile. Here are some suggestions.

Find enjoyment
Ask yourself what you to do besides work. Straightforward question but sometimes it can be hard to find something as rewarding – or absorbing – as work. This is not a negative, but it is important to acknowledge the significance work plays in your life. High achieves typically identify self with what they do. Fine, but as the saying goes “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” [And that applies to Jill, too.]

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Tags: roger bannister (175) , forbes magazine (2)

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