A Lesson From “The Walk”

On August 7, 1974 something ridiculously bold happened. French high-wire artist Philippe Petit walked between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on a wire—1,350 feet above the ground, without the aid of a cable or safety net. The sheer insanity of his stunt captured the attention of people around the globe, propelling Petit into lifelong notoriety and fame for his brazen courage, resilience, and determination.

This week, I took my sons to the movie based on Petit’s story, The Walk, and I’ll be honest—it wasn’t my choice of movie. I don’t care for heights at all, and watching it in 3D didn’t seem like too much fun to me. But I decided to give it a try and soon after the movie began, I found myself completely enthralled.

Petit’s vision for his walk was sparked years before the Twin Towers were even built, when he saw a photograph of them under construction. His dream, something that no one else had ever considered before, let alone thought possible, drove him to improve his abilities. He trained incessantly, devoting his life to perfect his balance, strength, and focus. As this dream developed, transitioning from a crazy idea into into a crazy possibility, it became the center of his attention—and the center of of the attention of his closest friends, who also devoted themselves to helping him achieve it.

It was one powerful, ridiculously crazy vision—one that would involve the the threat of death and illegal activity that would almost certainly lead to Philippe and his little team’s arrest. They all knew this, and still passionately pursued it anyway.

People don’t risk their futures for puny dreams. But for the right vision, they will throw caution to the wind to take part in fulfilling it.

Without a committed team, Petit could not have accomplished the vision that put the world on the edge of its seat. His team was driven by his clear vision. If we as leaders want to attract talented, passionate, and dedicated team members, we have to understand that it all begins with our vision and how far we are willing to go to achieve it. When someone has an audacious vision they are willing to fight for, others will follow.

I have no desire to walk on a wire a thousand feet above the ground. Something like this isn’t my dream. But The Walk inspired me to think bigger—to think a little crazy. It made me think about my own “wire” and to ask myself, “Is my vision ridiculously bold? What am I willing to do for my dream?” As I look at Petit’s dream and his ability to attract and inspire a team to help him achieve it, I have to admit that I have some “dream work” to do. 

This week, set aside some time to just dream. Ponder the things that excite you, that might ignite a passion in you to achieve something so big others will just have to be a part of it.

How ridiculously bold is your vision or dream?

Do you have some “dream work” to do?

Find your wire.