Impossible, meet possible: Writing and running

If you think something’s impossible, that may just be because you’ve never done it before. Or seen it done.

Everyone thought a 4-minute mile was impossible. Then two men ran it within weeks of each other.
Roger Bannister (left) and Australian John Landy, the second man to run a 4-minute-mile (Photo: Paul Joseph)

Experts used to believe no one could run a mile in under four minutes. Until Roger Bannister did it in 1954. The four-minute mile barrier had stood for, well…ever since the invention of the watch, I guess. Unless some earlier race coach used an egg-timer.

But Bannister had his name on the record for less than two months, before another runner ran four minutes, too. The men’s record now stands at just over 3:43, or about 17 seconds faster than Bannister. (To date, the fastest women’s time is about 4:12.)

Running and writing

Now, I’m not a runner, although I did once spend an hour in proximity to a book on the subject. One writing teacher started the semester by plopping Jim Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running on her desk.

“Reading a book about running will not make you a runner,” she said. Being writers, we all recognized a good analogy when we saw one. Only one thing could make us writers: we would have to write.

Which I do, in case you haven’t noticed. Every day for myself, and at least five days a week for my clients. Neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor lack of internet connection will keep me from getting in at least 15 minutes of writing a day. It’s a ridiculously low bar, so I am delighted to jump over it consistently.

What makes it easy for me to do something every day that many people sweat and strain over? I know I can do it. So I do.

Why didn’t the second guy to run the sub-four-minute mile have to wait centuries to do it? Because Roger Bannister had shown that it was possible.

You can make the impossible possible

Do you think you can’t write? Well, you can’t. Not if you don’t try.

But if you’re ready to do it—even if you can’t quite see how you’ll make it happen—join me for my free webinar “The Courage to Communicate: Write Right to Lead”—Saturday October 29th at 12 noon Eastern, 9 a.m. Pacific.

You’ve got greatness in you. I’d like to help you show it.