There are very few individuals from the 19th century who are still widely known today, but Harry Houdini is undeniably one of the most prominent.
While Houdini was a gifted athlete, it was his commitment to deliberate practice and an intense desire to be the best performer in the world that made him an international phenomena.
He would go to any length to mentally and physically prepare himself to perform. From having his brother tie him up on the roof of his family’s apartment building as a young boy, to pouring buckets of ice into already frigid rivers to test the limitations of his body, his commitment to being the best was unquestionable.
“My chief task has been to conquer fear. The public sees only the thrill of the accomplished trick; they have no conception of the tortuous preliminary self-training that was necessary to conquer fear.” — Harry Houdini
Houdini would do anything he could to entertain and inspire an audience. In the peak of his career he became fascinated with the advances in aviation. Despite the high fatality rate among early pilots, he purchased one of the first powered aircrafts and flew it successfully on his second flight after crashing on his first attempt.
Despite several near death experiences during his performances, every time another entertainer would attempt to replicate one of Houdini’s escapes he would quickly one-up them with a more dangerous and impressive feat. Much like a top athlete, his intense competitive nature was also one of his greatest assets.
“No one except myself can appreciate how I have to work at this job every single day, never letting up for a moment. I always have on my mind the thought that next year I must do something greater, something more wonderful.” — Harry Houdini
Houdini proved to the world that those willing to push boundaries and strive for greatness are capable of achieving the impossible.
Image Credit: cristiangog.ro
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