Always Do More

Always Do More


Leading up to 1954, it was widely believed that running a mile in under four minutes was impossible. Then along came Roger Bannister, who completed the run in 3:59,4. Since then, year after year, the barrier has been incrementally smashed by 17 seconds. So what changed? The human body is still fundamentally the same – evolution isn’t that quick.

The governor theory

Prof Tim Noakes, exercise and sports scientist at the University of Cape Town, says smashing records in this way isn’t about doping, it’s down to flouting a process in the brain called ‘the central governor’: a neurally calculated regulator for safe exertion.

Basically, it’s a mental barrier telling your body to stop exercising so hard you risk damaging it through oxygen deprivation.

How does this apply to success?

Adrian Gore, founder of Discovery, is supported by mathematics when he says it boils down to persistence. “You can always work harder.” If success can be written as a formula, it would look like this: Set = x < 10

The key to achieving more is to never assume you’ve reached ten. Persistence is the key.

If success is located in a set of zero to ten, with ten being the set barrier, your success falls somewhere on this continuum. The catch is that ten is pretty much like the horizon: when you get to 9 the next logical step isn’t 10, it can be 9,5. From there, thanks to decimals, you can achieve a 9,75, 9,98, 9,998 and so on. The same way the four-minute mile got smashed millisecond by millisecond.

Enter the über-nerd who says: “Are you saying success is like trying to reach the speed of light? Because that is impossible – the closer you get to it, the ‘heavier’ you get. So getting to 0,9 times the speed of light is hard, but getting to 0,999 times is much harder, and you’ll never get to the speed of light because you’d weigh infinity – not great for motivation since the last ten percent of getting to a goal has way more inertia than the first 90%.”

Thanks nerd. The point of understanding this set logic is not that you have a weight problem the more successful you are; it’s that the key to achieving more is to never assume you’ve reached ten. Persistence is the key. Seventeen seconds weren’t knocked off the four-minute mile in one go, it was achieved little by little; each person believing they could push that little bit harder.

The key to achieving more is to never assume you’ve reached ten. Persistence is the key.

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“Fatigue when you’re running is mental not physical, it’s your brain that says you’re over it.” – Prof Tim Noakes

Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.