• Bill Petrie

A Daredevil's Philosophy

There is no such thing as I quit, I can't, or I'm too scared

As a child growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were many pop icons I thought were cool such as Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli, Han Solo, Ace Frehley from KISS (okay, all the members of KISS), and Roger Staubach from the Dallas Cowboys. But there was always one that stood above all others when it came to cool: Evel Knievel.


The first real daredevil, Evel Knievel, just exuded an almost tangible coolness. Always dressed in American red, white, and blue leathers, he tackled each challenge with a confidence that was intoxicating. Adding to the coolness was the fact that the danger was genuine. He crashed more than 20 times throughout his career and suffered 433 bone fractures, with his most famous failed jump happening at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. You can watch that here – and you’ll wonder how he survived.


A bizarre mix of Elvis Presley, Captain America, and, as mentioned above, the Fonz, Evel Knievel was intoxicating to my friends and me. Secure that it would protect my fragile bag of Cheetos, I proudly carried my Evel Knievel lunchbox to school every day. My favorite toy was (and will always be) the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. Heck, we even built small ramps on Coleshire Drive where we would jump “Snake River” as we emulated our favorite daredevil.

The coolest thing about Evel Knievel? Despite his many failures, he never quit, and his confidence in himself never wavered. When faced with challenges and defeats far less painful than a motorcycle crash, how many of us allow ourselves to crumble back into our comfort zone? When I get knocked down – and it happens to all of us – I channel my inner “Evel Knievel” and keep moving toward my goals. There is no "I quit," no “I can’t,” or “I’m too scared.” Knievel was a determined man who said some very impactful things during his life:

  • "Small imaginations yield small results"

  • "If a guy hasn’t got any gamble in him, he isn’t worth a damn"

  • "I do things other men are afraid to do"

These quotes not only continue to inspire me, they speak directly to me and the way I approach everything: If you limit your imagination, won’t take calculated risks, or avoid growth because of fear, you will never differentiate yourself or your business.

Something interesting about Evel Knievel: after that horrific crash at Caesar’s Palace, he attempted over 100 more jumps – some of them successful, some of them not. Next time you crash, fall short, or hit the inevitable brick wall, channel your inner Evel Knievel and push forward.


Do the things others are afraid to do.

Take the risks others are afraid to take.

Dream big and work hard to achieve those dreams.

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