In 1953, John Landy was the best runner in the world.
But he was Australian, and that gave him a handicap.
Because Australians are very serious about their sport.
Being a runner means going round the track as fast as you can, with no help from anyone.
And that was John Landy’s handicap.
On the track, you were on your own.
He tried to break the four-minute mile like that: on his own.
He tried again and again but he just couldn’t do it.
Then Roger Bannister did it.
Bannister was an Englishman, and that gave him an advantage.
Because he was able to use predatory thinking.
Predatory Thinking is another name for creativity.
Years ago, Bill Bernbach said “It may well be that creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors”.
So creativity is a ‘legal unfair advantage’.
Just what Roger Bannister used.
He knew that you ran faster when you ran against someone else.
It meant you didn’t have to be constantly thinking about your time.
You could use the other runners as pacemakers.
John Landy, like most Australians, didn’t like the idea of pacemakers.
It felt like you were being helped.
Bannister welcomed the help, and used two Olympic runners as pacemakers.
Chris Brasher ran the first two laps as fast as he could.
Bannister kept up with him.
Chris Chattaway ran the last two laps as fast as he could.
Bannister kept up with and finally passed him.
That’s how Bannister became the first to break the four-minute mile.
Six weeks later, John Landy broke Bannister’s record.
Bannister had been first, but Landy was faster.
So who was the better runner?
In 1954, in Vancouver, they lined up in “The Race of The Century”.
From the start, Landy was clearly faster.
At one point Landy was a full ten metres ahead of Bannister.
Landy said “My strategy was just to make the pace as fast as possible and burn him off”.
But Bannister was using Landy as his pacemaker.
Bannister said “It was as though there was a piece of string between us that wouldn’t let me fall back, and gradually I wound it in”.
In the final straight, Landy looked over his shoulder to check how far behind Bannister was.
That was a big mistake, because he looked over the wrong shoulder.
Bannister accelerated past his other shoulder, and went on to win.
That was the crucial point in the race between the two fastest men on earth.
John Landy acknowledged the difference between them.
He said “I don’t have the temperament of a race-winner. I just like to run fast.”
And he did run fast, on his own with no help from anyone.
But Bannister ran faster, by using him as a pacemaker.
It’s the same in any job, in any business, anywhere.
Like Roger Bannister we all need someone to try to beat.
We all need to identify a pacemaker.