Until 1954 it was widely believed that a human couldn’t physically run a mile in under 4 minutes. It was just not humanly possible to do that. But everything changed on May 6, 1954 when Roger Bannister broke that myth and clocked a time of 3.59 minutes. Soon after on 21st June, 1954, John Landy also broke the record clocking a time of 3.58 minutes. In the time to follow many people all over the world continued to break the 4 minute mile record. Nowadays there are high school kids who have completed this milestone. So what changed? Did human bodies evolve overnight or did the track suddenly become shorter? Maybe time itself started moving slowly?
The only thing that changed was the mindset.
To achieve anything in life, it’s important to visualize it first. If you believe it, you can achieve it. This is what changed in the mindset of people. More and more people started to believe that yes, running a mile in under four minutes was possible and hence more people did it in reality. That is the power of visualization. This basic principle extends to everything aspect of our lives. Be it our careers, our relationships or anything else. Visualize what you want, experience it in your mind before you have achieved it and then work towards it with full preparation.
In the game of chess, visualization is a basic skill that is needed to calculate 2,3,4 or even 15 moves further than the position in front of you. You have to literally visualize the position you wish to reach to actually reach it. Infact, any two chess players can play a game of chess even without the board itself as they can visualize the game in their minds.
Check out the following video where the current world champion Magnus Carlsen defeats 10 players at the same time while not even looking at the chess board. This incredible feat involves keeping and updating the positions of 10 chess boards simultaneously in his mind.
Visualizing our short term and long term goals, the path to get there, even our daily schedule before hand not only keeps us to be disciplined but also prepares us for the roadblocks we might face. An employee who has a presentation the next day can simply prepare the presentation, run a couple of practice runs and move on. Or he can visualize in his mind his superiors sitting in front of him, the intense pressure he might be feeling, the questions that he might be asked and thus be better prepared for the presentation.
When you begin to learn chess, one of the first things you learn is how to visualize the chess board. This enables you to calculate ahead as well as simply play a game without the chess board. Let’s look at one of the steps.
Here you see a blank chess board. There are 64 squares with alternating light and dark squares. Each square has it’s own notation. To get the notation for one square, you just have to connect the files(a to h) to the ranks(1 to 8)
This would give you the notations for each square like in the diagram here. I want you to look at the chess board with the notation for all the squares, then notice the patterns and most importantly try to remember the colour of each square, is it light or dark?
Tip: Colours are the same along diagonals and they alternate along horizontal and vertical lines. Once you are done, try to only look at the table below and guess the colour(light or dark) of the squares mentioned.
How many did you get correct?
Once you can visualize each square, remember it’s notation and identify it’s colour you have already taken a huge step towards improving your power of visualization, just like Magnus Carlsen above.
So the four minute mile is possible, what about a three minute mile? Only the future will decide.