I hope this finds you and your family doing well! Over the years, I have become fascinated with the six to eight inches in between our ears. Weighing in at roughly three pounds and composed of 75% water, the human brain is the main component that separates us from all other living creatures making us the fittest to survive and thrive. It is the fulcrum of human ingenuity and the foundation underneath the long-term, upward trajectory of civilization.
Neuroplasticity is the fancy term that medical professionals use to describe the ability of the brain to change, modify and adapt over time. Doctors once thought the brain’s connections were fixed and aged as we grew older. They are now understanding that the brain has the ability to generate new nerve cells and can be improved in the areas of blood flow, memory and mood.
Sir Roger Bannister was one of the physicians that paved the way in neurology over the last half century. He passed away on March 3, 2018 at the age of 88. Bannister was the original Chairman of the Sports Council in the United Kingdom and credited with helping develop the first test for anabolic steroids in athletic competition.
Prior to Bannister becoming a world renowned neurologist, he enjoyed running in his youth. He began his running career in 1946, at the age of 17, in Oxford, England. One look at him, and it is clear that he was blessed with a runner’s body. He was tall, thin and ran with a long, labored gait displaying sheer will and determination. Bannister used the knowledge he gained through medical school to build his training regimen. The ultimate pursuit was a record that doctors and exercise experts said was impossible for the human body to achieve, running a mile in under four minutes. The record was held by Gunder Hägg of Sweden who, in 1945, ran the mile in 4:01.4.
As Bannister continued to train, he came to the conclusion that the sub four-minute mile barrier was mental and not physical. In 1947, he ran the mile in 4:24.6. As he continued to work on his craft, his time improved. In the following years, he ran the mile in 4:11, 4:14.2, 4:13, 4:09.9, 4:08.3, 4:07.8, 4:10.6, 4:03.6, and 4:02. Close, but no cigar.
On March 6, 1954, 3,000 spectators gathered at Iffley Road Track in Oxford to watch a meet between British AAA and Oxford University. This was to be Bannister’s next attempt at the record, but gusty winds had him longing to conserve energy and try again at a later date. Then, just before the meet started, the winds slowed, and he decided to run. On this day, Roger Bannister, at 25 years old, ran the mile in 3:59.4 becoming the first person in history to run a sub four-minute mile. He proved to the world that, what some called, the Holy Grail of athletic achievement was not impossible. It was merely a self-imposed limitation that theorists had projected upon runners. In the end, the seemingly unsurmountable obstacle was just an illusion that was eventually overcome with preparation, discipline, hardwork and perseverance.
Bannister’s record lasted only 46 days, when Australian runner John Landy shaved another 1.5 seconds off to finish at 3:57.9. Since Landy, twelve other men have broken each preceding record with four of them doing it more than once. The current male record stands at 3:43.1 set by Moroccan runner Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999. The current female record stands at 4:12.56 set by Russian Svetlana Masterkova in 1996. The four-minute mile has now been achieved by over 1,400 male athletes. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, twenty-one American men accomplished the feat in 2018 prior to Bannister’s passing on March 3rd.
How does an achievement once so elusive and mysterious for thousands of years become commonplace now? Perhaps it can be explained by the ability to quiet the oldest part of our brain, known as the reptilian brain, which is where fear, resistance and our fight or flight response is housed.
After decades of research on success and achievement, Stanford Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck, Ph.D introduced a concept known as Mindset. The idea is that we are all born with two mindsets, growth and fixed. In a growth mindset, intelligence is developed, challenges and feedback are embraced, effort is the path to mastery and we find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. In a fixed mindset intelligence is static, challenges and feedback are avoided causing one to give up easily, ignore feedback and have threatening feelings by the success of others. At the end of the day, I think Roger Bannister simply embraced his growth mindset, suppressed the fixed part of his brain and worked extremely hard for eight years to accomplish the goal he had set for himself. He was a leader, resetting the standard and illuminating the path for others who dare to callous their mind and body and push both to their limits.
Over the summer, I was introduced to the mindset convictions of David Goggins by a gentleman that knows him and has personally experienced his internal drive. Goggins is a retired Navy SEAL and the only member of the U.S. Armed Forces to complete SEAL training, U.S. Army Ranger School and Air Force Tactical Air Controller training. He is referred to as the Toughest Man on the Planet and is everything you could possibly desire in a person defending our country. In his new book, he writes, “…no matter who you are, who your parents are or were, where you live, what you do for a living, or how much money you have, you’re probably living at about 40% of your true capability.” Goggins has deemed this The 40% Rule, and formed it based on personal experience and by observing others. When harnessed correctly, the human mind can leverage our ability to achieve extraordinary results and catapult our future beyond our wildest imaginations. What would happen if we lived in contentful abundance, embraced our growth mindset and emptied the remaining 60% of our tank? I believe the ability to do so lives in the six to eight inches in between our ears, the choice is ours and the constructive possibilities are infinite.
In this season of giving, Eastwood Wealth made donations on behalf of our Clients to two organizations, Samaritan’s Purse and The Good Shepherd Center of Wilmington. I have participated and witnessed both organizations be instrumental in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Florence. Samaritan’s Purse is a faith-based humanitarian organization providing aid to those in need. They pulled into Wilmington on September 18th and left on November 17th. While in town, 2,516 volunteers, from all over the country including Canada, completed 633 work orders amassing 44,440 volunteer service hours. They also had operations based in New Bern and Jacksonville with similar statistics.
Eastwood Wealth continues to partner with the Good Shepherd Center of Wilmington to prepare and serve meals with a smile and offer assistance through donations. Our standing night for dinner is the third Thursday of the month from February to May and September to December. Please let me know if you and your family would like to participate, it’s a two-hour time commitment. I promise your heart will be full of joy and gratitude by the time you hang up your apron.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your family. With another year almost in the books, I believe I am doing what I was put on Earth to do, and it is our pleasure to be a part of your family. Thank you again for being a part of ours. May 2019 be your best year ever!
Tim Evans CFP® CLTC
The opinions expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of LPL Financial
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