How the Best of the Best Get Better and Better

by Graham Jones

UNTIL 1954, MOST PEOPLE BELIEVED that a human being was incapable of running a mile in less than four minutes. But that very year, English miler Roger Bannister proved them wrong.

“Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt,” Bannister is reported to have said afterward. “Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.” Which goes to show that in sports, as in business, the main obstacle to achieving “the impossible” may be a self-limiting mind-set.

As a sports psychologist, I spent much of my career as a consultant to Olympic and world champions in rowing, swimming, ...

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