Nik Wallenda believes nothing is impossible. That's why he's going to cross 1,400 feet of the Grand Canyon on a tightrope over 1,500 feet above the ground—without a safety harness.
The daredevil attempt scheduled for this Sunday is not this acrobat's only feat. Wallenda is a seventh-generation "Flying Wallenda" circus performer, and he's also known for his record- and law-breaking walk on a tightrope across Niagara Falls in June 2012 (one of CT's top 10 Gleanings of the year)—all while wearing a cross necklace outside of his shirt and proclaiming faith in Christ.
Even though his great-grandfather lost his life walking a line between Puerto Rico's Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel towers in 1978, Wallenda insists that he completes feats by remembering these three words: "Never give up."
CT recently talked with Wallenda about how Christianity keeps him focused, and what it means to walk by faith on a cable suspended thousands of feet above the Earth.
When did you decide you wanted to be a tightrope walker?
My great grandfather, Karl Wallenda, is a huge inspiration behind what I do. As I was growing up I thought about other careers, and toyed with the idea of going to college. For a while it seemed like the industry was dying, but then my family went to Detroit and re-created a pyramid where my family had fallen back in 1962. The media was overwhelming. It was then I realized our industry wasn't dying, it was just changing. We had to change with the times, so that's what I've done.
Speaking of your great-grandfather and your family's fall in 1962, it's evident that failure is an inevitable part of life. How do you overcome the fear of failure and persevere in tough situations?
Most of my autographs are signed "never give up," because those are three words I live by. No matter what comes at me, whatever challenges come my way, I never give up. With the Niagara Falls walk last summer, we had to change two laws: one in the U. S., and one in Canada that was over 100 years old. We had to get the government's permission to do that walk, and there were many times the government said no.
But I believe in pursuing your dreams and always focusing on the positive. That's what I chose to do in that instance. In the end I prevailed, and was able to fulfill a lifelong dream that no one in the world had ever been able to. Several had tried. Some of the best wire walkers in the world had tried to get permission over the last 100 years, but none of them were successful. If you set your mind to it, if you train hard enough, if you focus enough, you can accomplish anything in life, no matter who you are. So many people lose their dreams because someone in their life or they … talk themselves out of it. I hope what people see me do inspires them to believe nothing is impossible.
What role does faith play in your life?
My faith plays a huge role in my life, and I am very blessed to be where I am. One of the questions I always get is, "Are you testing your faith / are you testing God?" I don't see it like that at all. I don't believe God keeps me on the wire.
I believe God gives me a unique ability to walk the wire, but it's up to me whether I train properly. There's a lot of people that have amazing relationships with Christ that lose their lives in a car accident. Does that mean they didn't have a good enough relationship with Jesus? No. Life happens and God created us all in his image, but we're all our own people. We're not robots. We make decisions.