Leading Blog


Michael Caine: Use the Difficulty

Use the Difficulty

PROFESSIONAL golfer Phil Mickelson has played golf with a lot of elite performers like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Tom Brady. He said, “The biggest difference between people who get the most out of their talent and those who don’t is the ability to retake control of your thoughts, to quickly turn it around when things start going bad.” He adds, they “have the ability to retake control of their thoughts, to refocus on what they want to have happen, on where they want the ball to go. When things start going bad, they have the ability to quickly turn it around.” They are resilient.

In an interview with BBC celebrity chat host Michael Parkinson, Michael Caine put it this way:

PARKINSON: I came across a line which I just wanted you to sort of explain to me. You said that if you did have one philosophy of life, it was use the difficulty. Yes, use the difficulty. What does that mean?

CAINE: Well, yeah. I was rehearsing a play when I was a very young actor, and I had to come into this scene—it was a stage play—I’m behind the flats waiting to open the door. There was an improvised scene between a husband and wife going on inside, and they got carried away, and they started throwing things. And he threw a chair, and it lodged in the doorway. And I went to get open the door, and I just got my head round, and I said, “I’m sorry, sir, I can’t get in.”

He said, “What do you mean?” He sees a chair there, and he said to me, “Use the difficulty.”

“What do you mean?”

He said, “Well, if it’s a comedy, fall over it. If it’s a drama, pick it up and smash it.” He said, “Use the difficulty.”

Now, I took that into my own life. You asked my children; they said directly if anything bad happens, they go, “Gotta use the difficulty. How can we work—what can we get out of this?”

You know, use the difficulty. And so, there’s never anything so bad that you cannot use that difficulty in. If you can use it a quarter of one percent to your advantage, you’re ahead. You didn’t let it get you down. You know that’s my philosophy: use the difficulty. Also added philosophy is avoid them if you can’t!

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