1981 – the first ever London Marathon. A 48 year old man crosses the finish line in just under 4 hours. Completing a marathon is a remarkable achievement for anyone, yet for this individual remarkable doesn’t even come close.
Rewind to 1979.
A&E. The same man is rushed via ambulance, after a near fatal road traffic accident. He has severe injuries, lucky to be alive. Fractured and displaced hip, broken ribs, damaged ankle and his leg broke in 3 places. The doctors manage to stabilise his condition. He is not going to die. He also can’t walk.
The surgeons visit him. It is highly likely you will spend the rest of your life at best using sticks to walk, maybe even in a wheelchair.
Not this man. A bet of £50 (pretty decent sum in those days) from a friend was all the impetus he needed to fight through tortuous physio and rehabilitation to not only walk unaided, but to complete the very first London Marathon.
Bet won. You might think he would put aside the running shoes. Not this man, he went on to complete over 100 marathons, including completing a marathon in under 3 hours!
More than that he joined his brother to run several ultra distance challenges including running from John O’Groats to Lands End, a total of 1,000 miles in just 20 days. They also ran across Ireland, the Pennine Way, the Severn Way. Something close to 2,000 miles in total – all to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease (which had claimed the life of one of his older brothers.
Remarkable. That man was Don Bratt, my uncle.
He certainly had that. Yet that is not what I want to share in todays Mindset learning blog. Today I want to focus on the next frontier of human performance – the power of the mind.
As man has progressed we have witnessed several “revolutions”. The agricultural revolution saw us move from scattered hunter gatherers to organised production of food that enabled ‘trades’ to develop. Then came the industrial revolution with the development of mechanised work and large scale production of goods. This enabled the build up of cities and towns and access to affordable goods. The next ‘revolution’ is often called the information or knowledge revolution with a shift from manual labour and skilled trades towards the use of information to generate wealth and advance society. Technology has been at the core of this information revolution.
As knowledge has progressed so has our understanding of what helps humans perform at their best. This advancement in understanding has enabled humans to hone their physical wellbeing and development. We now know how to hone our physical state to push the limits of what is possible.
We have also seen a dramatic explosion in the science of nutrition and hydration – the way we fuel ourselves for peak performance. Individuals today have access to cutting edge tools and analysis to create personal nutrition plans that are individually structured to achieve your best.
We have also gained a much deeper understanding of rest and recovery – enabling our bodies to achieve things we never thought possible.
Yet I believe we stand on the precipice of the next frontier – the next revolution of man.
The next frontier – the mind…
We are just starting to truly understand the brain. With advances in disciplines such as neuroscience and psychology we are now starting to really understand the amazing complexity and power of the human mind.
The more we learn the more we uncover just how powerful this organ housed in our skulls is.
Go back to my uncle Don. Everything said that he should have spent his later life struggling to achieve the mobility until that fateful day he had taken for granted. Yet, despite the prognosis, his mid was unwilling to accept a vision of life that saw him unable to walk.
Despite everything to the contrary he willed himself to not only walk, but run and do so better than most people who never suffered the horrific injuries he faced. He was a living embodiment of the power of the mind.
Yet the next frontier is more than just individual examples of grit, bloodymindedness or dogged determination. The next frontier is about how we harness the amazing power of the mind and it’s ability to continually reform and adapt.
From meditation and mindfulness through to understanding of energy and thought stimulus and activation. The mind-body connection – understanding the flow of information from mind to body and how they mutually influence the other. AI, brain computer interface technology and powerful mind control practices the difference in the future will 100% come down to how we all manage the most powerful and destructive part of being human.
A problem solving engine…
One thing we know for sure – the brain is a powerful organ naturally equipped for problem solving. What we are perhaps less clear on is how the concept of the “mind” plays its part.
What is consciousness?
What are the opportunities that will be uncovered the more we start to unravel the real understanding of how and where our thinking originates. How do we as humans plug into collection intelligence or consciousness. Where does spirituality sit in the mix as we discuss performance?
Sports Psychology leading the way…
Elite sport tends to be at the forefront of understanding what helps make humans achieve greater levels of performance. Over the past 10 years or so more and more sports have understood that the marginal gains, the extra inches in terms of actual performance come from the ability to maximise our thinking in critical moments. Our ability to manage our emotion, make great decisions under the most pressure all stand out those who win from those who enter!
I believe in business we are just starting to get to grips with how Mindset can influence performance. How we can arm our teams with the mind-optimisation practice to create powerful, repeatable and effective habits that deliver excellence.
This is the key that gives access to the next stage of our growth…
Over the next few blogs I am going to dig into this more and try to identify practices and systems we can all apply to help us harness more of this power to enhance our own performance.