Michael Caine is a badass.
Over the course of 50 odd years, this epic British actor has delivered one outstanding performance after another. A scene in Dark Knight Rising has got to be one of my all-time favourites (you can view it here).
But, it’s in the below interview where he shows his brilliance in yet another way – one that has relevance to you in your role as a leader.
In the interview, Sir Michael tells us that any time we are faced with a difficulty or problem, we can use it to our advantage. He uses the story of a misplaced chair in his rehearsal space to illustrate this, doing so with his typical wit and self-deprecating humour. It’s complete mindset brilliance.
Watch it now, it takes less than 2 minutes.
Here’s an excerpt where he illustrates the moment of epiphany:
“I opened the door, and I said to the producer who was sitting out in the stalls, ‘Well look, I can’t get in. There’s a chair in my way.’
He said, ‘Well, use the difficulty.’
So I said, ‘What do you mean, use the difficulty?’
He said, ‘Well, if it’s a drama, pick it up and smash it. If it’s a comedy, fall over it.’
This was a line for me for life: Always use the difficulty.”
Sir Michael goes on to say there’s never anything so bad where ‘using the difficulty’ can’t be applied. If we use it only a quarter of one percent to our advantage, then we’re ahead. We didn’t let it get us down.
No doubt you’ve faced difficulty in your role as a leader. Perhaps you’re facing the mother of all leadership headaches right now. So go on, allow yourself ‘a moment’ and give yourself a pity party.
But then brush yourself off, pick yourself up, give yourself a metaphorical hug and ask yourself the following five questions. In doing so, you’ll put into practice this “Use the Difficulty” mindset and you’ll become a badass – just like the MC.
- What’s this situation teaching me? What’s the useful lesson that I can glean from this scenario?
- If this was happening to a good friend of mine right now (instead of me), what advice would I give to him or her? This can provide some perspective to a situation that you might be too close to. Take a step back and have a look from the outside-in.
- How can I use this perceived disadvantage, set back or challenge to my advantage? Check out the brilliant book, A Beautiful Constraint: How to Turn Your Limitations into Advantages and Why its Everyone’s Business for more on how to do this.
- What’s good about this situation? Come up with at least five things.
- What can I do right now to move forward?
Although Sir Michael jokes his other philosophy is to avoid difficulties altogether, leaders are often faced with challenges on a daily basis. ‘Using the difficulty’ is a change in mindset that can turn a challenging situation into a positive experience for everyone.
Can you think of a situation in which you have ‘used the difficulty’? I would love to hear your experiences.