• Konrad Fernandez

The Running People

I often set the context in leadership development interventions asking people about their health and sports routines. There are usually the majority who sheepishly grin about their intent to exercise which hasn’t materialized into action. They clearly look the part 😊 with bulging waistlines and shirt buttons straining to stay in place.

And there are the few who proudly proclaim that they walk 8 kilometers a day, some even 16 kilometers a day. Occasionally, there are people who have participated in half marathons and treat it as one among their significant achievements. They also admit it isn’t easy doing a 21-kilometer run, and that only with hard work, practice and patience they can manage to complete such a race.

We use this opening discussion to pose the question: How far can you run if you had no time limit? The answers vary from 20 kilometers to some claiming they can even do a marathon with a few months of rigorous training. And just as they wonder where the discussion is heading, I introduce them to the opening section of a documentary which profiles a tribe in a remote part of Mexico. They are called the Tarahumara – The Running People.  And they can run over 435 miles in just over two days.That’s almost 700 kilometers (more than 16 times a marathon).

If you are dumbstruck, and in awe and disbelief, well…welcome to the club! That was my reaction when I first watched this program, and it has been the reaction of every single such group I have interacted with. Think about it. It truly defies belief. And yet scientists are at a loss to understand what makes this superhuman achievement not just possible, but almost commonplace within the Tarahumara tribe.

What if scientists tell us that we can all perform this feat? The people of this tribe have bodies that are just like ours. And no secret formula has emerged from either what they eat, or drink or do. They are the running people, and they do what they do almost as naturally as we walk from one block to another.

Here are some things to think about.

Limits exist only in our minds:

Joseph Murphy in his book, “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” talks about several experiments done with people in a state of hypnosis. We all know that hypnosis is fundamentally a state when the subconscious mind steps forward, and the conscious mind is dormant. In other words, it’s the time a person is most amenable to suggestion. And science tells us that our subconscious mind believes anything we tell it. In hypnosis, the conscious mind does not interfere and tell the sub conscious mind what is possible or not possible. And the body manifests what the sub conscious mind believes.

In one experiment, a person in a state of hypnosis was told that a can of pepper was being opened in front of his nose. Of course, there was no can of pepper. But the person, believing it, began sneezing continuously. Another person in the same state was told that a lighted match was being touched to the back of his neck. Of course, no match was held to his neck, but he developed a burn on the back of the neck. The sub conscious mind literally commanded the body to respond based on what it believed.

No one conducted a “break the limits” or “realize your true potential” workshop for the Tarahumara people! They didn’t need to. Perhaps all that was needed was that there was no one telling them they can’t run that distance. No one to build constraints in their minds and, consequently, their bodies. No one to tell every child there that “you’d tear your muscles if you ran so far”.

Whether we can wrap our heads around it or not, the fact is that we can do what we believe we can.

We learn our constraints. And socialization has dinned into our heads limits, fears, and constraints that do not really exist. If we can truly understand this, we can live life with so much greater power, and achieve 10 times what we normally think possible.


The difference between mediocrity and greatness is often just one element: Stretch! So many of us are content with our daily routines, the job or studies or business, family time, and some leisure.

People who achieve great things in life do so because

a)      They believe they must. Our lives are not ours. They are God’s gift to us, and we must account for how we live our lives and use our talents and time. Are we going to deliver 1x of what we were given or 100x? That’s the kind of challenge great achievers constantly have before them.

b)     They believe they can. They unlearn the very same limits, constraints and fears the rest of us probably choose to live with. Yet, when we realize it’s only a belief, we can set new goals, do the things we love, make bolder choices, and create excellence in everything we do.

Leonardo Da Vinci had the same time most of us have at our disposal. Yet his achievements, like those so many great people, seem like many lifetimes’ work. He is certainly known best for his paintings, but his contributions spanned sculpting, inventions, architecture, science, music, engineering, astronomy, biology, mathematics, history, geology, anatomy, cartography and paleontology.

Just 24 hours in a day. And so many great people show is what can be done with it, even many, unlike Da Vinci, with limited talent and resources, who by the power of belief, and the willingness to stretch have achieved what seemed impossible.

Self-actualization is a primal driving force. All we need to do is get out of the way, and stop blocking our own potential with limiting beliefs, rackets, and excuses.  

So, think about these things. Do you have a larger vision for your life? Are there constraints, limits, fears and assumptions holding you back? How can you re-look at your potential, and strive to go beyond the accepted possibilities?

The lessons from the Tarahumara are well worth pondering. They may help you re-imagine yourself, your life, your potential, and your goals. And when you do so, you may be ready to create a truly larger-than-life sketch on your God-given life canvas!

Watch the entire documentary film on the Tarahumara Tribe: https://bit.ly/2m4xLl4

© 2018 by Konrad Fernandez.