Belief. Kale Flagg says that this single idea has made history time and again. From the first successful submarine voyage to the rebuilding of NYC after 9/11, belief has been the catapult for all things great in this world.
According to Kale Flagg, in 1859 a French tightrope walker named Charles Blondin ran a small ad in the New York Times. He stated that on a particular day he was going to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Niagara Falls, points out Kale Flagg, are 1100 feet across, nearly 4 football fields in length, and 167 feet high, with more than 42,000,000 gallons of water cascading over the cliff every minute of every day! At the railing adjacent to the falls, observers are overcome with the awe at the force of the water moving over the edge and falling into the river below, says Kale Flagg.
Nearly 5000 people turned out to watch Charles attempt his crossing that day in 1859, reports Kale Flagg. Most thought they were turning out to watch a suicide. Before Blondin began his crossing, he asked the crowd, “How many of you believe I can successfully cross the Falls?” The crowd responded with some reluctant cheers and applause, says Kale Flagg. He then climbed onto the rope and to everyone’s amazement he crossed the falls. At this point, Kale Flagg notes that the crowd roared with enthusiasm.
Following that success, Blondin asked the crowd, “How many believe I can cross pushing a wheelbarrow?” Few believed, but to the crowd’s delight, Kale Flagg relates that Blondin crossed the falls pushing a wheelbarrow. Next Blondin asked, “How many of you believe that I can cross blindfolded?” Once again, few believed, but to what Kale Flagg believes had to have been their total amazement, Blondin quickly crossed 1100 foot span of tightrope blindfolded.
The tightrope walker then asked, “How many believe I can cross the Falls on stilts?” And he did it! He actually crossed Niagara Falls on a tight rope on stilts! Kale Flagg says that the crowd went crazy. When the cheering and applause ceased, he asked “How many believe I can cross the Falls carrying someone on my back?” The crowd responded with cheers and applause so loud that they could be heard above the roar of the falls. Of course, Kale Flagg says that at this point they all believed. After all, they had just watched him cross the falls with a wheelbarrow, blindfolded, and then on stilts. He had already performed feats that were far more difficult than the one he just announced. They all believed, says Kale Flagg. They all knew he’d be successful. They had doubts before, but no more. Now, everyone believed and they screamed and yelled to prove it.
While the crowd was still yelling and cheering, Charles asked in this last question. “Who will volunteer?” The crowd went awkwardly – and Kale Flagg believes, embarrassingly – silent. Of the 5000 people yelling and cheering, professing their belief, not one person, not a single man, woman, or child truly believed, says Kale Flagg. Oh, they all sincerely thought they believed, but when it came right down to it, their belief was thinner than air. Kale Flagg explains that in reality, therefore, their belief was nonexistent.
Now, some might say that one should not be so judgmental of the crowd. What responsible man or woman would ever do something so risky is to get on the back of a tight rope walker across Niagara Falls? The answer, according to Kale Flagg, is any responsible man or woman who truly believed they would safely arrived on the other side.
As it turned out, there was one man in the crowd who did believe that Charles could safely cross the Falls with someone on his back. He was Charles’s best friend. He jumped on Blondin’s back and became the only man in history to cross Niagara Falls on the back of a tightrope walker.
Kale Flagg claims that by definition, true belief always acts accordingly. When you get into your car and drive down the freeway, do you believe that you’re going to safely arrive at your destination? Kale Flagg says that you must truly believe or you would not get in the car. True belief – or faith – always has a corresponding action. You sit in a chair because you believe it is strong enough to support your weight; this is just one example of true belief.
Making history–or performing in a sales position–are akin in that both require a great deal of faith. You must believe that you can be successful, otherwise you will stand on the edge, see the tightrope sway with the wind, and carefully back out and away from the challenge…and the rewards.
Kale Flagg is the Chief Operating Officer of Array Asset Management (AAM). AAM provides objective, 3rd party neutral asset management and consulting services for owners of solar Photo Voltaic (PV) power plants. A graduate of Yale University, Kale Flagg worked on Wall Street before relocating to Reno, Nevada, where he resides today.