Great Lessons from Sir Roger Bannister

Sir Roger Bannister

Hi Readers,

Trading the Financial Markets is like a roller coaster ride and, without a doubt, many successful traders have been trough the ups and downs of the market before they realised that they need something else (let’s call it X factor for now) to be successful. Unfortunately, many traders don’t understand what the X factor is and they cannot relate to it because market traders (although is a growing sector) is considered a niche sector i.e. a rare breed.

With that, I will try to explain and show that the X factor can be found in professional sportsmen as well. Today, we will have an in depth look at what we can learn from Sir Roger Bannister – the sports person who made history. 

The Sub-4-Minute Mile

Sir Roger Bannister started his running career at Oxford in the autumn of 1946 (age 17). When he started, had never worn running spikes previously or run on a track. He was selected as an Olympic “possible” in 1948 but declined as he felt he was not ready to compete at that level. However, he has set his training goals on the 1952 Olympics. Unfortunately, he was defeated in the 1500m race and finished fourth. He was out of the medals even though he did set a British record in the process.

After his failure at the 1952 Olympics, Sir Roger spent two months deciding whether to give up running. In the end, the decision was to stay on and he also set himself on a new goal: to be the first man to run a mile (approximately 1609.3m) in under four minutes. Just a reminder, Sir Roger’s best record when he made the decision was on 14 July 1951, when he completed the AAA Championships mile run in 4:07.8 at White City. Every sportsman would know that reducing 7.8 seconds in a championship is a massive leap in achievement.

Sir Roger continued to pursue his goal and the historic event took place on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road Track in Oxford with Sir Roger finishing the one mile run in 3 min 59.4 sec. The claim that a 4-minute mile was once thought to be impossible by informed observers was a widely propagated myth created by sportswriters. However, Sir Roger pretty much made a world record and made the impossible possible.

As you can imagine, the record has been broken several times now since then (you can see the records here).

Note: The passage is an edited/shorten version that was taken from Wikipedia (Read full story here)

Lessons from Sir Roger Bannister

In my view, being a trader is no different from being a runner or a sportsman like Sir Roger Bannister. Besides the technical know-how, the psychology and mental strength of both a Master Trader and a successful runner are equally important and somewhat similar.

So, what trading lessons have you learnt from Sir Roger’s achievement? Here are some of my thoughts.

Disclaimer: Some of the following are just my own assumptions based on Sir Roger’s story and I have little or no facts to back it up. Nonetheless, I do believe some of the ideas are true and are genuinely useful for traders.

1. Determination    

Sir Roger was training for 6 years (from 1946 till 1952) and even with that, he failed to become an Olympic medallist. After that, it took him another two months to make a decision to pursuit his goal – which he set out to finishing a mile under four minutes. This is not just a world record at that point in time but also a major leap in sports history.

decisionI mean, who was he kidding right, he was about to venture into something that NO ONE had ever done before and it was thought to be a myth at that time. Sir Roger was probably checking his sanity and making sure that he was being rational about his decision. However, once he made his decision, he just kept going. In the end, his determination paid off.

This should be applied in trading as well. Before you dive into a career as a market trader, you need to do you homework and research. However, if you truly believe that trading is what you want and once you have decided that you want to make trading your career, then stick to it and never give up.

If you think that trading is not for you, then stop trading and put those hard earned money in a better place. Nothing is worse than doing a half hearted job.

2. Commitment

Many traders start trading because they were attracted by the potential profits sold through various marketing campaigns. Mind you, I was lured into trading because of those marketing emails too and there is nothing wrong with that. However, many amateur traders start trading with the “Let’s See How It Goes”  attitude. This is probably one of the most dangerous attitude to have when you start trading because you are no different from a gambler walking into a casino.

Thankfully, I had a good mentor and the lesson here from Sir Roger is that your decisions and commitment when pursuing your goals are crucial.

Sir Roger made a commitment to pursue his goals and, even that, he only made that historic breakthrough two years later.  Many traders who are impatient will definitely not see the fruits of their labour. Worse than that, many do not understand the level of commitment required to become successful trader. Hence, many give up along the way with time and money wasted.

3. Over Come Those Little Voices

angel-and-devilThis is probably not mentioned on Wikipedia (or probably any where else) but if you were to put yourself in Sir Roger’s position, you will very likely have heard a tone of little voices in your head during the two months period (after the 1952 Olympic) when he was deciding to continue to run or not. Sir Roger probably went back and forth, having to rationalise those voices on his head and this would have even continued all the way till he succeeded.

Unknown by many, those little voices have a huge influence on the decisions we make. On top of that, with his recent return from the Olympics, he was probably the talk of the town. I would also imagine that some of those voices were generated by people around him who thought that he was crazy or who thought that the adventure he was about to partake was probably impossible.

I am pretty certain that many of you reading this right now would have gone through the same thing at one point in time. Many people, who are genuinely concern, will tell you that trading is dangerous and risky. In fact, you would have read articles or forums stating how much money people have lost while trading.

Unfortunately, these are just voices. Those little voices inside your head often pre-determines the outcome of what you are about to do and they have a huge influence on you. Instead of listening to these voices, ask yourself truthfully, “What do you really want to achieve from trading”?

The lesson here is this, as Henry Ford says it,

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

So if you really want to achieve trading success, or any other successes in life, you need to over come those little voices inside you.


If you truly want to become a successful trader, you really need to reconsider your goals, your desire and your commitments to trading. As mentioned in my trading workbook, to achieve trading success, you need to understand yourself and understand what you really want from trading. More importantly, in line with Sir Roger’s story, you need to accept that nothing is impossible.

Once you are clear of what you want and how you want to get there, you need to overcome those little voices and make that change. 

Thank you for reading and please do leave a feedback if you have similar experience to share.


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