Stretching The Goal

It’s amazing how stretching a goal can make a person perform beyond his perceptions. If a group is given a task and asked the probable days required, the group can do the same work in less than half the number of days. Just like that if a class is given an object like and asked to write 10 things that came to their mind instantly in 2 minutes, most of them would end up writing 5-7 words. On the other hand if they were given a target of 100 things in say 15 minutes many of them would cross 50 words, some might even touch 80-95 range. The underlying point is that when the target is stretched it brings out the best in people in a limited amount of time. The goal of the Learning Book, for instance, can be taken as a case in point. 10,000 words in 10 weeks seemed an impossible task, especially in retrospect considering last year was a Learning Diary. This is just a small example of how the human mind creates boundaries on its own. When these boundaries are challenged there is unrest and when they are overcome, then can the mind be said to be ‘free’. For us, the exercise made complete sense when we witnessed how we when we were given an unrealistic goal and freed from the constraints of thinking in terms of a particular target we were to achieve, our performance improved drastically. "To be free is nothing” said Fichte, “To become free is heavenly."

Like the mental barrier of the 4-minute mile, till Roger Bannister ran a mile 3:59.4, the 4-minute barrier was taken for granted. John Landy, considered one of the great milers of that era, within 46 days of Bannister's breakthrough, surpassed the record with a 3:57.9. Bannister and Landy raced later in the year in the "Mile of the Century" at Vancouver, a runoff to decide who was the faster miler. Bannister won in 3:58.8 to Landy's 3:59.6, the first time two men in one race had broken 4 minutes. By the end of 1957, 16 runners had logged sub-4-minute miles.

Something similar happened in the Health Run last year. Exactly seventy years after Jesse Owens tied his first world record, the roads opened up at IIM, Lucknow for the first Health Run (much like Forrest Gump, one fine day, for no particular reason). The single-lap girls’ run started at the same time as the boys, who were running two laps. Prospective favourite Tuhina woke late from her afternoon siesta a good couple of minutes after the run had started and ran to the venue of the mini-marathon. Sprinting off from the starting line in solitude she finished with a good TGV to Rajdhani lead ahead of the troupe, and beat all but a few of the ‘run-of-the-mills’ in the men’s category as well. Her goal, in atypical non-relative non-IIM style, was not whether she could run faster than the rest, but whether she could run faster than herself.

“Not to touch the earth
Not to see the sun
Nothing left to do, but
Run, run, run”

It is aptly said that a cricket match is won or lost before the physical play has actually started. The team that has thought in its mind that they are going to win no matter what happens does win in the end. For the same reason, the Indian cricket team finds it hard to win against Australia. That’s why they say, “you have to believe that you can do it to actually do it”. If one nurtures doubts about the task then one has already lost half the battle. The conviction should be spot free in one’s heart to succeed. “That a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what are other heavens for?”

Top 5 Interpretations of the ‘Sun’
Alok A saints aura, well, Alok, spider web, Spike ball
Animesh Ghost, The Mask, Fire, Light, Hope
Anshul A spider, an octopus, halo, radiation, a porcupine
Gurpreet Glass, Water sprinkler, Pincushion, sponge, anaemic eye
Siddhartha A porcupine, The Eiffel Tower, The Buddha, A harpooned whale, A black hole