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Belief Begets Behavior

There is a difference between knowing the truth and believing the truth. True belief begets behavior.




by Greg Brezina


In 1859 the Great Blondin, a man many consider to be one of the greatest tightrope walkers of all time, announced to the world that he intended to cross Niagara Falls on a rope. The rope was nearly a quarter of a mile long and suspended 160 feet above the water. On June 30, 1859, in front of thousands of spectators, the great Blondin successfully crossed the falls. To make the crossing more spectacular he effortlessly completed a back flip as he crossed the halfway point.


During the next year, Blondin crossed the falls 16 more times. Each time he set out to try even more daring feats. He crossed the rope blindfolded. Once he cooked breakfast on a stove in the middle of the rope. Blondin crossed in chains, on stilts, and once peddling a bicycle. On July 16, 1859, Blondin set out to push a wheelbarrow over the rope. Before he began, he turned to the crowd and shouted “who believes that I can cross pushing this wheelbarrow.” The crowd erupted in a massive cheer, and everyone agreed that he would be successful again that day.


When he made it to the other side, he turned the wheelbarrow around and shouted to the people on that side, “Do you believe that I can push this wheelbarrow across with someone in it,” and again the people shouted, “We believe Blondin, we believe.” So Blondin looked at the crowd and said, “Ok who is going to get in the wheelbarrow and let me push them across.” The crowd drew deafly silent. There were no volunteers to be found.


It was one thing to know that Blondin could do what they had all seen him do, and another to put their life in his hands by letting him carry them across the falls on the high wire. True belief begets behavior.