Today’s message is especially dedicated to the great Nick Scozzari.

Perhaps the most impressive and memorable quality of leaders is the way they responded to failure. Like Karl Wallenda, the great tightrope aerialist-whose life was at stake each time he walked the tightrope…

Shortly after Wallenda fell to his death in 1978 (traversing a 75-foot-high wire in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico), his wife, also an aerialist, discussed that fateful San Juan walk, “perhaps his most dangerous.” She recalled: “All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to it was falling. It was the first time he’d ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.” Mrs. Wallenda added that her husband even went so far as to personally supervise the installation of the tightrope, making certain that the guide wires were secure, “something he had never even thought of doing before.”

…It became increasingly clear that when Karl Wallenda poured his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope, he was virtually destined to fail.

Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus, Leaders (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 69-70.

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