Here’s a story about resilience that comes right out of a Hollywood movie, or at least the recasting of that movie. The film is entitled: All the Money in the World. It stars Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg and Christopher Plummer and it’s coming out in theatres this week. Like all Hollywood productions they were done shooting “principal photography” for this film months ago. And up until the first week of November, i.e., just SEVEN weeks ago, this film’s starring role was filled NOT by Christopher Plummer but by Kevin Spacey.
As soon as director Ridley Scott (who is 79 years of age) started hearing the disturbing news about Kevin Spacey he quickly realized that his choice of stars was literally going to sink the movie before it was even released. Rather than delay the premiere, planned for December 22, Scott called up Plummer, Williams and Wahlberg and got them all on board with the idea of reshooting every single scene that had included Spacey.
When I read about this in an article from Vanity Fair (VF), I realized that Scott had demonstrated just about all of the following steps for creating resilience in a very real way.
1. Don’t sweep your stress symptoms under the rug
2. Take action
3. Stay confident while remaining flexible
4. Nurture an attitude of gratitude
5. Develop your coping resources
6. Develop your spiritual resources
7. Seek support
Don’t sweep your stress symptoms under the rug. In the VF article director Ridley Scott said: “It was a bit of coordination, with a lot of panic thrown in.” Most people try to ignore the stress symptoms they feel (like panic) by drinking, smoking, eating and spending money. But Scott went from feeling “panic” right into step 2:
Take action. “I never ponder about anything, so when I heard the bad news, I immediately thought, ‘I want to recast this. I can’t sit and wait.’” Scott went on to say: “I think I was born competitive,” (I read this word to mean resilient.) “I always think, as a film director, if the roof is falling in, ‘Well let’s prop it up or move.’
Stay confident and remain flexible. Just the fact that he was even willing to CONSIDER the option of recasting Spacey with 7 weeks to go illustrates extraordinary flexibility, but his confidence is illustrated in the following remark: “I’ve gotta say, this is an awfully good movie. I know it is.”
Nurture an attitude of gratitude. Scott seems to hold no ill will for Spacey, who inadvertently made his life VERY difficult for 7 weeks. “’When I worked with Kevin, we got along quite well,’ Scott said recalling his experience with his original star.” You get the sense from reading this article, that Scott realizes that “bad things” happen and you just have to accept them, deal with them and move on.
Develop your coping resources. “The fact that this [news] came in, I didn’t go, ‘Yippee’ but I did go into battle mode.” To me, this is an example of cognitive restructuring, a vital coping resource. I think what he’s saying is: Look, there is no way to turn this into a positive, but it doesn’t mean I can’t deal with it. That way of COPING with major stressors requires CLEAR, RATIONAL, and UNEMOTIONAL thinking: the kind of thinking that Spock was famous for on Star Trek.
Develop your Spiritual Resources. There’s nothing in the article to support this, however I wouldn’t be surprised if Scott – in his personal life - has this base covered as well.
Seek Support. To pull off a Christmas miracle like this, he must have had to call in a lot of favors from what was an undoubtedly LARGE social support network of friends, colleagues, business associates, etc.
I love the last line from the VF article which sums up Scott’s whole approach to dealing with stress and creating resilience: “Asked whether he got a kick out of the adrenaline rush as well, he smiled: ‘Of course. Dude, if you don’t enjoy stress, don’t do the job. I thrive on stress.’”
One last thought about Ridley Scott: The guy is almost 80. Imagine the average 80-year-old person you know pulling off something like this. It’s mind-boggling. But if you do happen to know of anyone like this, please spread the word. One of the best ways we can learn resilience is to see it modeled in other people.