Facing Fear & The Art of Risk: Nik Wallenda, World famous aerialist and tightrope walker


Some people try to run away from their family legacy and forge their own path. Nik Wallenda has been able to make his own path while continuing in his family’s footsteps. While he is seventh-generation member of The Flying Wallendas aerial entertainers, he has used his determination and focus to defy the odds and take acrobatic stunts further than anyone else ever has. On this week’s episode, I sit down with the 11-time world record holder to discuss his storied career and life performing on the wire. Nik is an inspiring example of how preparation and following your heart can lead you to great achievements.

During our conversation, we discuss his family’s history and, while he was raised by entertainers, he had to fight to be one himself. We also break down what it’s like to live life on the actual edge, how shake-ups at major television networks nearly cost him the chance to perform a stunt he had prepared two years for, how fear is a constant in his life but also something that motivates him, and what he’s saying to himself when he’s hundreds of feet in the air. You’ll find out how he goes about assembling his team for stunts, the advice he has for rebounding after a tough defeat, and why love is the ultimate teaching tool for him.

Nik’s new book, Facing Fear: Step Out in Faith and Rise Above What’s Holding You Back, dives into how he’s used fear to overcome some of the toughest situations he’s faced. This episode shares what it means to set goals for yourself, prepare as much as possible for any scenario, and why you must be careful with the kind of noise you let into your mind. This is an inspirational talk and you’ll even hear what Nik still hopes to walk over across the globe.


  • Following in a parent or mentor’s footsteps can help lead you into the direction for your life.

  • Keep your dreams alive and fulfill yourself by pursuing your passions.

  • Write down some short-term and long-term goals for yourself and revisit them as you’re working towards them.

  • Don’t take no as an official answer if someone is trying to crush your dream. Keep working towards it.

  • Giving up shouldn’t be an option in your professional life and listening to your personal goals should help fuel you.

  • Reevaluate your life every once in a while to make sure that you’re getting all that you can out of it and see how you’re handling everything.

  • Training and preparation are so important in the professional world. You can ready yourself for almost any situation if you take the time to do so.

  • Filter what you let in. If you’re letting in negative thoughts, it can really set you back

  • Surround yourself with people that will better you and those that have your best interests in mind.

  • No matter how deep you may have fallen, there’s always ways to pick yourself up.

Nik Wallenda Career Accomplishments

  • 7th generation member of The Flying Wallendas

  • Holds 11 Guinness World Records

  • First person to walk a tightrope that stretched over Niagara Falls

  • Walked 1,800 feet over Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua and over the Grand Canyon

  • Hung onto a helicopter while only using his teeth

  • Walked on 135-foot-long high wire between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel

  • Author of Facing Fear: Step Out in Faith and Rise Above What’s Holding You Back

Key Conversation Takeaways

  • 4:31: History of the Wallenda family in entertainment

  • 9:20: Why growing up performing was “normal” to him

  • 15:10: How doubt was a lingering feeling early in his career

  • 18:30: How it took years to handle the logistics of his dream stunt at Niagara Falls

  • 23:35: What he’s had to do to overcome fear

  • 31:37: The preparation it takes to get on the wire in the first place

  • 35:52: His process each day to get in the right mindset

  • 38:45: Dealing with inner monologue

  • 42:00: Who to surround yourself with to get the best out of your life

  • 44:10: How he goes about assembling a team for a stunt

  • 48:30: Using love as a teaching and lifestyle tool

  • 50:18: Rebounding from a loss and how to deal it

  • 52:48: What Nik has up next

Notable Quotes

  • 8:32: “My great grandfather said it best. He said, ‘Life is on the wire. Everything else is just waiting.’”

  • 10:35: “With performers together, we were always in the same place. It wasn’t mom goes to work; dad goes to work. It was mom and dad and kids go to work together.”

  • 14:54: “We went over there (Japan) and broke the world record for the eight-person pyramid. It made headlines around the world and I thought, ‘Thank God. We’ve done it. We’ve made it. This is great. Now I won’t have to work in the restaurant anymore.’ I went back to the States and ended up working in a restaurant for four years, continuing to doubt myself but continuing to have this vision and this dream and setting these goals of continuing on this legacy.”

  • 15:46: “Through that process, there were many times that I doubted myself. ‘Should I have given up on this dream? Am I being stupid? Am I being foolish?’ And I would just lean on positive quotes.”

  • 20:16: “I remember sitting there thinking ,’I keep getting five steps forward and then ten steps backwards.’”

  • 24:58: “I didn’t realize that fear had crept in and I had this seed of fear that was planted. Actually, by getting back on the wire, I was hiding it and burying it.”

  • 28:24: “I’ve dealt with fear off the wire way more than I dealt with fear on the wire.”

  • 34:48: “We can talk ourselves on the cliff. We can talk ourselves off the cliff. It’s really up to us taking that proactive stance and doing it in traffic, doing it in stressful situations, doing it when you have a car accident, when you fall off the wire, when you get in an argument with your family member, doing it in every aspect of life and practicing it and continuing to practice it. I don’t think you can ever master that, but you can absolutely master where your mind goes.”

  • 39:50: “My entire life has been risking my life.”

  • 41:26: “I’ve told my children that they’re capable of doing anything in life, but they’ve got to have the right attitude, the right heart, and remain humble.”

  • 46:29: “I’ve surrounded myself with people that continue to lift me up, not tear me down.”

  • 50:30: “Every time I’m down in the gutter, there’s always something great coming.”