Confessions of an Outlaw: Intuition and Improvisation

Intuition and improvisation are not opposites. They are cousins. One must take an intellectual approach to an adventurous exploration of the unknown.

Philippe Petit: Intuition to me is almost an illegal notion. Certainly it carries rebellion because we are being taught in life – when you’re a little kid your parents and later the teachers will tell you how to do things and how to think. They will very rarely say well, you know, try it your way and if it doesn’t work I’ve got a secret in my sleeve.

For me when I review my life intuition and improvisation are really almost the same thing so that they are distant cousins because intuition is more of an intellectual calling, right. If I need to do a certain little task by intuition I know I would need three tools. I would improvise those tools if they don’t exist. So you see right there in the same sentence I use intuition and improvisation. Now improvisation is much more. We use it a lot in the acting world, you know. It’s much more jumping, diving from the diving board into a – I don’t know – into a volume that you’re not even sure is filled with water. Improvising is welcoming the unknown. And that’s another thing we’re not being taught in school, right. We’re saying be afraid of the unknown, you know. Follow the sheep. Follow the rules. So I would say welcome the unknown. Follow your intuition and improvise and it’s a different concept. Improvise means act upon your intuition, you know, live through it and of course you have to adjust through improvising sometimes. Like an actor will do.


High-wire artist Philippe Petit explains that intuition and improvisation are not opposites. They are cousins. One must take an intellectual approach to an adventurous exploration of the unknown.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less