"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I... I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference". - Robert Frost
We are experts at making mountains out of molehills! How many times have
we stood in that proverbial ‘fork in the road’ only to walk down the
road everyone else is walking down because of our fears? As the years
pass, it seems we are more disappointed in the things we didn't do than
by the ones we did do. How many times have we looked back on our lives
and said, "I wish I would have!"? How many times have we finally found
the nerve to step out of our comfort zones, only to find that the
mountain of fears we had created in our minds was lower than we
originally had created?
Countless people had told Roger Bannister his goal was "impossible." For many years, the scientific and athletic communities thought that it was impossible to run a four-minute mile. The event was regarded as something more than a sports record to be broken. This 'impossibility' was viewed by society as an epoch-making barrier that could not, and, more amazingly, should not be broken. Many people believed if a man were to run a mile in less than four minutes the result upon breaking the tape would be instant death.
In his 1935 article entitled "The Ultimate of Human Effort," British track coach Brutus Hamilton had listed the "perfect records beyond which man could never go" for a number of track and field events. He declared that the fastest mile possible would be 4:01.6. By the spring of 1954, Gunder Haegg's world record of 4:01.4 was nine years old, and Hamilton was still insisting no one could run any faster. Looking back in history..."The four-minute mile: This was the barrier, both physical and psychological, that begged to be broken." (Neal Bascomb)
"Whether we liked it or not, the four-minute mile had become rather like an Everest -- a challenge to the human spirit," observed Bannister in his newly-reissued autobiography, "The Four-Minute Mile". "It was a barrier that defied all attempts to break it -- an irksome reminder that man's striving might be in vain. The Scandinavians, with their almost excessive reverence for the magic of sport, called it the `Dream Mile.' "
History now reveals that Roger Bannister was the man of this moment! On May 6, 1954, this 25-year-old medical student, committed runner, ran a mile at Oxford University's Iffley Road Track in the time of 3:59.4. It's no wonder Roger Bannister could say, "The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win."
Louis. D. Brandeis said, "Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done." How many times have we hesitated to venture out of our cocoons and risk what all those around us have determined to be 'impossible'? Peer pressure, societal norms, and traditions keep us stagnant and uncommitted from taking steps toward our dreams. It seems far easier to stay in our comfort zones than to step off the shore of familiarity. "Do not attempt to do a thing unless you are sure of yourself; but do not relinquish it simply because someone else is not sure of you." - Stewart. E. White
Now let me be clear. I am not talking about doing something sinister, stupid, or evil, but our venturing should be within the context of doing what is right for our families and giving back to our communities. All of us have had to endure the snide remarks of another who makes comments from their worldview of impossibilities. Family members, friends, and co-workers are quick to squash any attempt to step out of the known and into the unknown. Fear of failure grips us and leaves us frozen in a frightful fit of all the things bad that could happen! The comfort zone feels good, warm, and fuzzy, but such a zone zaps us of real growth and living up to our full potential. Rather than attempt something new, we are consoled in our complacent progress of staying put in our uncharted waters of a well known shoreline. "The person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare. The sure-thing boat never gets far from shore." - (Dale Carnegie) Will Rogers said, "Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."
Who knows how many God given talents have been locked up on the carnal shores of our earthly vessels? God has called us to take our talents and grow, not to hide them away in fear! Vaclav Havel said, "Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs." If you want to eat the fruit, you have to take the risks that come with climbing the tree!
There is no doubt in my mind, if you are reading this today, there are dreams you have locked away on some distant shore of apprehension. One of the greatest college basketball coaches, John Wooden said, "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." Today, I want you to re-examine those dreams and goals that were once the emblem of your vision. Its time to raise up the anchor, throw off the bowlines, and sail away from the safe harbor of complacency. I challenge you to take a step down the 'road less traveled', you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find there!