Why You'll Succeed With a Little Help From Your Friends
On Saturday morning Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in under 2 hours. Eliud's motto and hash tag reads, 'No human being is limited.' And his achievement is being compared to Roger Bannister breaking the 4 minute mile in 1954 and Neil Armstrong landing on the moon (1969). These men broke barriers- when the pessimists and party-poopers sighed, "It can't be done. It's impossible." They broke through- they achieved the impossible.
Years ago I could have done with this inspiration when I raced my arch rival Henry Dagleish. My school was surrounded by a circular road called the D- and it was a perfect running track. We were pretty competitive- who could run the fastest? Who was the toughest? Who could pee the furthest? - to us these were urgent questions. Maybe if I'd trained smarter, instead of harder I would have won.
I was thrilled to watch Eliud Kipchobe's race- I love his humility and brilliance. But what got me excited was how he won. He did not win alone- but was supported- by a team of 42 pacemakers, technology and a clear goal. No human being achieves their potential alone. In sports, in business, in the arts- wherever we want to excel, we will do it best if we learn from Eliud- with the support of those around us, technology, and a clear goal.
The myth of 'going it alone', like some solitary hero fighting impossible odds- gets in the way of us achieving our potential. It is a mistaken and foolish idea- more harmful than good. What helps us succeed, as Eliud proved- is a team, a plan and technology.
Eliot was assisted by a brotherhood of 42 athletes, including Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Paul Chelimo and the Ingebrigtsen brothers Jakob, Filip and Henrik. They ran in a 'delta formation', designed to be as efficient as possible. The pacers ran in relays- and each time a fresh group joined Eliod he received a little energy boost. He really did get by with a little help from his friends.
His goal was clear. Run a marathon in under 2 hours. Technology helped too- Eliot and his team followed the green laser paths set out by the car in front, and programmed by a team of scientists. If the runners could keep up with the green lasers- they would succeed.
Eliud Kipchoge is a brilliant athlete- but he is also wise enough to receive all the help he can. Because nobody succeeds alone. We need each other- especially if we want to reach our goals.