Over the last few months I have spoken to many business leaders who felt frozen and unable to take any action towards their vision. This is a story I recounted to them:
In 1974, a 24 year old Frenchman named Philippe Petit, walked a high-wire illegally rigged between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Centre.
Everyone held their breath as he stepped out because the towers were 1,350 feet above the ground. They were swaying that morning because of the wind.
The rain was beginning to fall and it made the wire between the towers wet and slippery.
Petit stood there for a moment, took a deep breath himself and then he stepped out onto the wire.
The night before, his team had shot an arrow across the 200 ft gap between the towers and pulled across a 450-pound steel cable. He used a custom-made 26-foot long balancing pole.
And that morning, he performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire, during which he walked, danced and lay down on the wire. Office workers, construction crews and policemen cheered him on.
As he climbed back onto the building he was arrested by the police, although the charges were later dropped in exchange for a free show of juggling for children in Central Park.
A few years ago, Philippe Petit took some questions about this feat. Someone asked him, “What’s the most difficult part of this? Is it the psychological preparation? Is it overcoming your fear of death?”
Petit’s reply was fascinating… “It’s the second step.”
Not the first step but the second step.
You see, with your first step, you still have one foot anchored and supported by something solid. But with the second step, you have to shift your centre of gravity so that your entire body is no longer supported by anything solid.
This isn’t just true for tightrope walkers. The mistake so many of us make is to think that we will fall if we take the second step. No. You will only fall if you never take the second step.
So today, where are you still hanging on? And what will you do to take your second step?