Sharing, musing, reflecting...

What Al Pacino asked Keanu Reeves and Why it Matters

In the film Devils Advocate, Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves are negotiating a contract.
Pacino says “Pressure changes everything. Some people, you squeeze ‘em, they focus. Others fold.  Can you summon your talent at will?  Can you deliver on a deadline? Can you sleep at night?” This got me thinking. So my question to you is “Under pressure, do you focus or fold”?
We all have times where we’re faced with tough or challenging situations.
The difference in how things pan out is simply a difference in mindset.
Before I expand on that, here’s my unpolished definition of each;
in Focus = in the zone, in flow, inspired, alert, energised, feels effortless
about to Fold =  hesitant, feeling of overwhelm, panic, which leads to freeze, withdraw, shut-down, give up, avoid

When people are focused, they are ‘in the zone’. There’s either an absence of insecure or
other toxic thinking or they ignore their insecure thoughts instead of dwelling on them.

When people are folding, it’s usually caused by over-analysing and over-thinking. There’s a lack of objectivity or clarity.
When people fold it’s often because they have insecure thinking that they buy into,  to the point that it de-rails them.
Those thoughts may include or be similar to  “Oh my god, i can’t do it / how will i get it done / i’ll get it wrong/ i dont know where to start / it’s all too much” etc etc.
In effect, they are freaking themselves out with their own scary thinking. And we all do this from time to time. Sometimes with dramatic consequences.
A classic demonstration is when people tell me that they do their best work when they’re under pressure.
When there is only a short time to accomplish something, many people will abandon their toxic or insecure thinking and just get on with it. It’s essentially ‘crunch time’.  Those that thrive under these conditions will also believe that it’s the time pressure that is helping them get stuff done.
But how is it that other people in the exact same situation will fold? They’ve got the same deadline and the same time pressure. Yet, rather than mobilise them into action, it stops them in their tracks. In their case, rather than dropping their unhelpful thinking, they continue engaging with it. By doing so, they fuel it to the point where it ignites and they fold (freeze, run, withdraw etc).
The truth is that it’s not the amount of time that matters,  even though it looks like it is.  That’s a misunderstanding about how the mind works.
We all have the potential to go either way. The direction we take is always and only ever a function of our state of mind in the moment.  When you can see fear and insecurity for what it really is (thought), you can free your mind to focus on what really matters.
If you’re interested in learning more about pressure and stress, read my article The Truth About Stress here
To your increasing freedom of mind.
Chantal Burns ScreenshotChantal Burns

Executive Coach, Speaker and Bestselling Author of

'INSTANT MOTIVATION: The Surprising Truth Behind What Really Drives Top Performance'

Click here to get Instant Motivation

This entry was posted in Free Stuff, Influence, Leadership, Sales & Persuasion, Self awareness, State of Mind, Thinking, Wellbeing. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • Free weekly influence tips

    A three minute read for a lifetime of value delivered straight to your inbox




  • Sign Up