It was the new years eve of 1918, one of the coldest days of the year. In a remote farm in Northern Sweden, a legend was born.
Gunder Hagg’s father was a lumber jack. So, Gunder Hagg grew up walking long distances to and from forest areas where his father worked. His school was 3 km away, which meant more walking or skiing during the winter months. Running in the lush woods, scattered all around the mountains, was one of his favorite pass times. All this physical work, laid the ground work for what he would accomplish in the coming years.
When Gunder Hagg was a teenager, he and his father, heard the success stories of Henry Kalarne, a boy from a nearby village . Henry Kalarne who was a fire fighter and a runner gaining popularity at that time, would later become one of Sweden’s finest runners. Gunder Hagg was inspired. He wanted to see how good he was.
He along with his father mapped out a 1500 m course in the woods. It was agreed that his father would time him as he ran the course. By the end of the course, his father announced excitedly that he had completed the course in 4 mins 50 secs. A remarkable time for that distance.
Gunder Hagg had talent. The time confirmed that.
Later on, in his autobiography, Gunder Hagg recognized this particular moment as the one that sparked his interest in competitive sports. The moment that made him believe, he can.
From then on, Gunder hagg started training seriously.
He found a hilly forest course near a cleared road, and began regular sessions of 2500 m of snow running and 2500 m of road running. He found different courses in the forest to improve his speed. He did this everyday,for two years.
Full fledged winter trainings, improved him by leaps and bounds.
Gunder Hagg, broke his first world record in 1941, when he finished 1500m race in 3 mins 47 secs. This was just the tip of the iceberg in his running career.
1942 was the year he became a legend.
That year, he made 10 new world records, all in just a span of just 12 weeks. He broke his own 1500 m record and his new time was 3 mins 45 secs. He became the first man to run sub 14 minute 5000 m.
The moment that paved way for all his success, was that one fateful day during his teens when he ran his first 1500 m in that exceptional time.
Gunder Hagg was destined for success. After all he had the talent. He was faster than most. Wasn’t he?
It turns out he wasn’t.
Several years later, his father confessed that he had lied about the time as a means of encouragement. The actual time was 5 mins 50 secs, not at all exceptional for that distance.
If not TALENT then what?
An under current of doubt and negative thoughts are all normal to most of us. We feel like an impostor almost on cue. It is way too easy to doubt ourselves. After all we haven’t proved ourselves yet. Not to ourselves or to the world.
Gunder Hagg was no stranger to any of this. He noted in his diary that he sometimes has negative thoughts, but he had an ability to re-focus his mind on positive things.
Of course he did. He is a LEGEND. He had all these cool tricks. But is that all that is?
Gunder Hagg had a moment to hang on to. The days when it was hard to get up and run, the belief in himself would give him strength to get over the rut.
All of us have that moment, however tiny, that sparks the thought, maybe I can do this. Maybe I am good at this. Hold on to that moment.
I have had no such moment. Now what?
It’s the chicken and egg problem. You need a moment to drive you forward. But you need to put in the work to get that moment.
Gunder Hagg’s father gave him that moment by lying. But even he needed a basis for lying. His father can’t go to his son, if he had never ventured out into the cold, if he had never enjoyed his run out in the woods, and say he had an exceptional talent for running. That wouldn’t have made any difference, if Gunder Hagg wasn’t interested in running in the first place.
If you haven’t had the moment yet, keep on doing what makes you feel good. You might not be in a habit of doing that regularly, yet. But you will find it fast. It is something that you tend to gravitate towards all the time. Think back to your childhood. What did you enjoy doing most?
As you keep doing what you enjoy, you will find the moment, mostly unexpectedly. It might be in the form of a comment from a total stranger or maybe your sibling. “Looks like you have a talent for this”. Hold on to it. Lock it up in a secret place. Believe it.
Every time you doubt yourself, every time the negative talks become loud in your head, take out that moment and keep doing what you have been doing . Think of ways to make it better. And keep doing it until that single moment becomes many more.
You might like to read about the 2 techniques from experts to live in the moment, and move past self-doubt.