Movie B-School: Air Force One Keeps Poise Under Pressure

3 minute read

Movie B-School: Air Force One Keeps Poise Under Pressure I North by Northwest Boise

Han Solo makes the most handsome president I’ve ever laid eyes on. Period.

Now that my crush is out in the open, I can speak freely of his staggering charm. Air Force One uses Harrison Ford’s raw masculinity to emulate a president with the grit and gumption to fight terrorists who have boarded his plane. He refuses to leave his family (aww) as hostages aboard, so he tricks Secret Service agents into thinking he had escaped. Soon, he is a stowaway, unbeknownst to the hijackers, in the airplane’s cargo area.


Han taps into his military background and manages to take down the terrorists one by one to save his family and fellow hostages, and he does it with grace. Having grace under fire comes easily to some, and is a mystery to others, yet it’s crucial in the workplace. Short fuses don’t make friends, so how do we learn to quit panicking and stay productive when all hell breaks loose?

According to Time and Inc., this seeming inability to handle pressure comes from worrying away your “self-integrity” (Time) and replacing it with “self-consciousness” (Inc.) and anxiety brought on by negative self-talk. Even worse, worrying that you don’t know what to do or how to solve a problem under deadline will make the solution harder to come by. Obviously, the prez has a secure grasp on staying poised in terrorist situations, but we could use a little help from him and the experts at Time and Inc.

Movie B-School: Air Force One Keeps Poise Under Pressure I North by Northwest Boise

“Solution Shelves”

After escaping his…escape pod, Ford begins to understand a bit of what’s going on and that he’s their only hope for survival. Luckily for him, he is a former military man, and has been trained to have grace under pressure and be quick on his feet. As he attempts to discharge the plane’s fuel by performing a little wire maintenance, he has to complete a very, very quick risk management run-through before cutting a random wire. (In case you were wondering, he chose correctly by not cutting the good ‘ol red, white, and blue.)

Inc. (rightly) suggests that one comes up with mental “solution shelves” where you can store risk management scenarios that can apply to the problem. In order to get to these potential solutions, you must first rehearse the situation. The article uses a client presentation as an example, and asks that as you prepare, you create risk cases to test yourself and look for areas that may need solutions, such as a hole in information or a technical issue. Performing this exercise will help you avoid the self-conscious feeling of not knowing what to do, and gives you possible outcomes that will make you feel like a hero when you can pull one out in a snap.

Movie B-School: Air Force One Keeps Poise Under Pressure I North by Northwest Boise


Another helpful exercise mentioned in both the Time and Inc. pieces is to take a moment to write down a list of your values and write about the most important. Taking a little time to turn your focus away from the problem and toward yourself will help boost self-confidence and the ability to take a breath, reframe the problem, and come at it with a renewed sense of self. Han does this in the moment (because he’s so perfectly trained, and toned) when he makes the decision to not leave his family and to not cave to terrorist demands.

Movie B-School: Air Force One Keeps Poise Under Pressure I North by Northwest Boise

Want to be raised upon shoulders? Don’t freak out, and instead remember that you can handle anything with confidence and grace, and tap into your solution shelf. As Mr. President says, “Peace isn’t merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.” Yeah, Han. Get it.

(Images via, via, via, via)


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About the Author

Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.


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