The Walk Across Niagara Falls

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Niagara FallsOnboard the Maid of the Mist boat, I was ferried to the base of the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara Falls. The scenery was spectacular. Two rainbows spanned beautifully across the Falls. On this hot day of 30 degrees Celsius, the mist was a welcoming break from the heat despite the fact that one did get pretty wet even with the poncho on. I could feel the power of the raging water. It was hard to phantom how Nik Wallenda, an American high wire artist, conquered the walk across the falls.

It was June 15, 2012 that Wallenda took the challenge. He took the first step on the five-centimeter wide tightrope at 10:15 pm and completed the daring feat in 25 minutes. There are five lessons we could learn from Wallenda:

1. Solid preparation—many saw the walk as a daredevil act. To Wallenda, it was an athletic feat which required intense physical training and mental skills. He practised for eleven straight days, with water sprayed on him and a blowing fan to emulate the conditions he would be exposed to.

2. Superior mental strength—Wallenda has an impeccable track record of risky performances. He believes in himself and was convinced that the act was just another walk at a different location. Although the walk across the Horseshoe Falls had never been done before, his faith and confidence erased any doubt about his capabilities. In his words, “The impossible is not quite the impossible if you set your mind to it.”

3. Unwavering determination—Wallenda had to lobby both the US and the Canadian governments for approvals. The process took almost two years. He didn’t give up despite the legal battle he had to go through. He was determined and even funded an economic impact survey to convince the stakeholders of the benefits to the local communities. He persevered.

4. Laser focus— Wallenda was trained to deal with distraction at a young age. His parents would throw objects at him as he practised at age four. He knows how to dealing with distractions. As a result, the unpredictable wind and mist, the hovering helicopter, and the safety harness which he wore for the first time in his life didn’t affect his performance.

5. Set new height—the next big event for Wallenda is to cross the Grand Canyon on high wire; a feat no one has done. It would also be the longest walk on high wire for him.

Effective execution in business requires the same disciplines:

1. To be prepared is to have the appropriate tools and skills to deliver the intended outcome.

2. To have mental strength is to believe in the choices you make.

3. To be determined is to stay the course despite unforeseen obstacles.

4. To have laser focus is not to be distracted by noise and miss the target.

5. To set new height is to challenge yourself and raise the bar.

© Connie Siu 2012. All rights reserved.

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