I pay attention to the Academy Awards. In the last week, I caught up with some of the movies nominated. One was “The Bridge of Spies”.
It’s a movie starring Tom Hanks who plays the role of an insurance attorney who is called upon to represent a Russian spy in the 1950s. Among the plots covered in the movie is the relationship between Hanks the attorney and the spy played by an actor Mark Rylance.
Rylance is a cool customer. He’s operated as a spy in America. He has been caught by a dozen agents who have knocked down his door. He plays the role of a “strange, unsocial neighbor” as they scour his apartment.
I won’t tell you the whole story (you may want to see the movie) but I wanted to rely an anecdote.
As the relationship between the lawyer and spy evolves, the lawyer is impressed with the calm demeanor of his client. Three times in the film, Hanks says to him things like: “You don’t seem panicked” or “Are you worried?”
Each time the spy responds simply: “Would it help?”
I liked the response. In the face of pressure or tough situations, energy wasted on wringing hands in worry or contemplating all the possible bad outcomes seems misplaced.
The character played by Rylance decided early on, “it doesn’t help”. Thus, he maintained composure. He worked toward the best result he could achieve. He made the best of the situation.
To be focused on what you can do to help – nothing more, no less- is a powerful strategy.
By the way, Rylance won the Oscar for his performance. You may enjoy it. No bad language. No skin. Not much violence. Good story.
PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.