“Death Is Very Close,” From Man on Wire, Starring Philippe Petit


Why would a person choose to risk his life on a wire suspended more than 400 meters in the sky, and what can we learn about the purpose of work from this man? Before their tragic destruction in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the most notorious episode in the history of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City occurred in the summer of 1974, when Philippe Petit walked on a tightrope stretched between the tallest buildings in the world. The story of Petit’s daring feat is the subject of a documentary film, Man on Wire. The brief segment of that film that is the focus of this case photographically depicts the walk, accompanied by recollections from Petit and his accomplices. Petit’s own answer to why he pursued his calling provides a lesson in contrasting intrinsic motivation with the conventional extrinsic logic of business motivation: “There is no why.”

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