I imagine most people admire James Bond for his good looks, charm, wit, strength, and attractiveness to high-class women. Those are all positive qualities. But what I admire most about him is his ability to stay cool in high-pressure situations.
Compressing Under Pressure
I recently listened to, and summarized, a speech given by a former Navy SEAL named John Choate. He talked a lot about the importance of teamwork, training, and planning. At the end, he said something I found profound, “Under pressure, people don’t rise to the occasion. They compress to the level of their training.”
That is a shockingly accurate statement. I know because I don’t respond well under pressure. I suppose that’s why I’ve done my best to keep my stress down to a manageable level. For example, I’ve stayed out of most kinds of debt, worked hard to pay off my mortgage ahead of schedule, avoided competitive sports, and taken other measures to shy away from confrontational situations.
But hiding from conflict isn’t always possible, nor is it necessarily a good thing. If I shun stress, I won’t be able to react well when I feel it come on strong. I’ve got to face my fears at some point and overcome this weakness of mine.
How I React to Stress
I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to react under pressure similarly to how Peter Banning does at the start of Hook.
His children just want to have fun and make the best of an unfamiliar environment by turning their worries into a game. But Peter is focused on a worrisome phone call, which clouds his judgment to the point that he can’t see past it to the family that loves and needs him.
How James Bond Reacts to Stress
While I struggle to stay calm and think my way through stressful situations, James Bond handles them with aplomb. Goldfinger contains the most famous example of this. Faced with certain death if he can’t convince the villainous Goldfinger to turn off his laser, Bond keeps his cool and manages to turn the tables in the nick of time.
Bond reacts to this situation by first trying to defuse it with humor. Then he demands clarification and tries implying a threat. When those don’t work, he finally resorts to creating an impression of uncertainty in the mind of his captor. Imagine if Bond had panicked, futilely cried for help, started divulging secrets, confessed to being ignorant of Goldfinger’s plans, or begged for mercy.
Normal people probably would have reacted that way, but not Bond. He remained calm and collected, even if visibly worried, which is totally understandable. His voice was steady as he cleverly talked his way out of danger.
A Fleshy Heart
I like to relate my struggles not just to movies, but also to scriptures. Both speak to me in helpful ways.
In Ezekiel 36:26, the Lord promises, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”
For all my efforts to change my ways, overcome temptations, and curtail my tendency to rudeness, I still fear that I have a stony heart. At my core, I am imperfect. I will continue to work hard to uproot my heart prone to anger and strive to replace it with one filled with meekness, longsuffering, and kindness. If Ezekiel is right, perhaps only God can truly do that. All I can do is try my best and show God my willingness to be humble and patient as He changes my heart.
More than the Midas touch that turns everything to gold, I yearn for every life I touch to be improved. I’m a long way from that goal, but I trust that I’m heading in the right direction. Second star to the right and straight on till morning.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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If you’d like to support the Deja Reviewer, please consider donating a few dollars to keep this site going strong. I’ll even send you an original joke if you do! Try it, and prepare to enjoy a good chuckle.