I recently watched a fascinating documentary about the athlete Sir Roger Bannister.
Whilst doing his full-time job as a junior doctor in the 1950s, he was also training, when he could, for the 1952 Helsinki Olympics where he ran in the 1500 metres.
Although he set a British record, he came in fourth, missing out on the medals. It was speculated that had he won the gold medal he was aiming at, he would have retired. Had that happened, his name would have gone on to the roster of world-class, Olympic standard athletes, a fine achievement.
As it was, because of his perceived failure to win a medal and after a couple of months of deciding whether or not to give up running, he continued to run at a competitive level.
In 1954, Bannister became the first man in the world to run a mile in under four minutes. Many have done it since – indeed Bannister only held onto his record for 46 days. But that doesn't take away that he will always be the first name on that illustrious list, or that he opened the door for all the others who came after him.
Sometimes, "failing" or not fulfilling an expectation, is simply the needed next step to achieving something even better.
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