The Great Blondin was an acrobat who famously crossed Niagra Falls on a tightrope. His stunt got progressively more and more daring until he eventually pushed another person across in a wheelbarrow. While everybody was in awe of his feats and claimed to have no doubts about his ability to cross the tightrope safely while pushing the wheelbarrow, only one person would volunteer to get in the wheelbarrow.
When we think of this story in relation to our people, the lesson is clearly not about tightrope walking, but about the challenge leaders are facing every day around creating a culture of belief. While most managers by now understand that their competitive advantage comes from their people, only a few know how to convince employees to truly buy in to the ideas and the strategy they have initiated.
Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton used the Blondin story in their first chapter of the book All In. They presented findings from a study of 300,000 people on how the best managers create a culture of belief and drive big results. Gostick and Chester noted, “Blondin had hoped his fans would believe, as he did, in his infallible prowess on the high wire”, alluding to the fact that it’s one thing for people to say they believe, but it’s another to show they believe.
Read more about All In by Gostick and Chester here.
From the talk: How Can I have Faith? The true story of Blondin is a great example of what faith looks like; not just words but actions and putting your money where your mouth is.