On 7 August 1974, French street performer Philippe Petit walked and danced on a wire he illegally rigged between the New York World Trade Center’s twin towers.
Captured in an incredible documentary, Man On Wire, Petit’s six years of planning and preparation to achieve what’s been described as the ‘artistic crime of the century’ is an awe inspiring tale. He conceived the idea based on an article he read about the towers construction whilst at the dentist in France, and dared to dream that one day he would walk between them.
Each day, we all conjure up ideas that we’d love to materialise but never follow through on them. What does it take to defy the odds?
When Petit was asked why he did the twin towers stunt, he would say, “When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk.”
Incredible feats are achieved because people dared to see the opportunity in any situation. Whilst some may see nothing but brick walls, others see the potential to do something that invigorates them. What they rely on is their instinct, determination and a dose of compulsion.
If you’re going to break with convention, you need to not be a sheep of society. You have to zig when others zag. You have to ignore the criticism, relentlessly get back up every time you fall down, canvas alternate paths, and continually find inspiration. Defeatists need not apply.
You also have to be under no illusion that it’s going to be a walk in the park. I recall reading an article a couple of years ago about Olympic swimmer Eamon Sullivan’s battle with injury – five hip surgeries and 10 years of shoulder, back, knee and neck injuries – and training till he vomits. If you want to achieve the seemingly impossible, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do the hard yards.
And finally, you have to be prepared for the potential isolation. When you go against mainstream thinking, you unintentionally force those around you to question their own beliefs. Not many people like to feel that they are wrong, or that their idea of what’s possible in life is somewhat questionable. So instead of supporting you – and your allegedly crazy ideas – they distance themselves and sometimes walk away. On the flip side, you may find others want to join you and give you infinite support.
Many of the great ideas came from people who defied mainstream thinking. The likes of Hendrix, Branson, Banksy, and Jobs were all revolutionary in their offerings to the world.
The question is, are you prepared to defy the odds to achieve your dream?
Miss T Tonic is a strategist, designer and LifeStylist who spends her days taking great ideas and turning them into reality at Howl Communications and Style to a T. A passionate storyteller, she shares her insights on business, life and doing more of what you love.