I am a huge Al Pacino fan. I’ll watch his movies whenever they are on and I hope to pass on my passion to my sons one day so they can appreciate great acting. One of his movies, The Devil’s Advocate, is a modern twist on Paradise Lost. Keanu Reeves plays a Florida defense lawyer who starts the movie making a questionable moral choice to defend a client he knows who is guilty.
He wins the case. Pacino, playing John Milton (the screenwriter had to stretch for that one), is the head of a large New York City firm. He recruits Reeves to his firm and destroys his life leading to a climax and a reveal of Milton’s true identity. There’s a scene where the two actors are talking about a legal contract and 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?”
There are times when life gets heavy. When you start your own business, the mountain can seem too tall, the end result too far off on the horizon. When you chase your dream, your legs can get tired. Let’s break down this quote and pull out the value for dreamers, creators, and thinkers like you and me.
Pressure changes everything: How did it feel when you told the first person that you were going to chase your dream? Putting your goals out there creates automatic accountability, whether in business, writing, or life. You will face pressure and it will change everything. When you decide to live, forces will mount against you and that leads us forward.
Some people, you squeeze ‘em, they focus. Others fold: Here’s the key section. How do you handle pressure? Val and I have faced challenges over our past fifteen years together. We’ve stared down money, health, and parenting issues. We had to take everything in stride and keep moving. Be like the shark; never stop swimming. The sun will always rise tomorrow and I’ve watched it after many late nights scared of what was to come.
Can you summon your talent at will?: In today’s world, this is the new currency. We are past factory jobs that last a lifetime and retirement that will provide until death. The age of security is over. Contract marketing is king. It is not what have you done, but what can you do for me right now?
Credits and experience don’t mean anything if you are the new kid with a viable, valuable, and sustainable idea.
Can you deliver on a deadline?: If you can’t, there is a world of hard-working, creative people who can. Time management is key. Make a goal and a promise and stick to it.
Can you sleep at night?: Do you have peace? Can you hit the pillow knowing you accomplished something? Do you end each day noting a small victory? It can be anything from a new sale, contract, lead, or project to working out and eating right. Give yourself credit and use it for motivation when the next sun rises.
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