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The psychological skillset of George Clooney

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The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by Katiedot on Mon Feb 20 2012, 05:20

While I'm not a big believer in armchair psychology, I guess a professional psychologist can be allowed to put in their two pennies' worth. Thanks to j for this find:

From Psychology Today

The psychological skills underlying George Clooney's success

Published on February 19, 2012 by Jeremy Clyman in Reel Therapy

As a fan and practitioner of positive psychology, I am constantly attending to the ways in which healthy people manage to construct such healthy lives - so as to marshal the insights (lessons, habits, personality traits, life experiences, etc.) into interventions for unhealthy people who deserve but struggle to attain such happy, healthy outcomes.

Is George Clooney an insightful case study in this regard? From a distant, he certainly seems so. After all, few people have attained such success, popularity and likability in our society. A recently aired, two-hour interview on 'Inside the Actor's Studio' offered rich material.

Psychological defenses: We all distract ourselves from things we find unsettling or dissonant about our personalities and life story. At one point in the interview Clooney began to describe his father's strict disciplinarian style: "My father would lock you in your room for a long...." My point is not to speculate on the nature of punishment in Clooney's upbringing but to note that he unintentionally began to share information that he quickly deemed to be too personal. He then decided to do what we all do in public situations involving personal information - he defended against be open. We all have different ways of defending - denial, repression, sublimation, etc. and some ways of defending are healthier than others. In this moment of defense Clooney turned to the audience, and with a twinkle in his eye, joked that "only recently in my life did my father stop grounding me." Humor is as mature and healthy a defense as we have in our emotional repertoires.


Interpersonal attitudes: We know that a warm, interested and optimistic view of other people and our interactions with them is critical to well-being. Meaningful and plentiful relationships are perhaps the best predictors of good health, mental and physical. And you can't establish such fruitful bonds without the proper demeanor and subsequent social skills. The list of effective skills in this domain is a long one, ranging from making good eye contact and providing frequent smiles to treating others compassionately. Predictably, all of the ingredients to this recipe of sociability were on display in Clooney's loving impersonation of his Kentucky-born Uncle, and his praise of former colleagues like Jennifer Lopez.

Intelligence: Sure, you can attain a healthy life without being the sharpest knife in the drawer, but being smart makes things easier. Clooney is smart. There are somewhat objective measures to reference: we learn that Entertainment magazines have rated him as smart. He also shows tell-tale signs of intelligence like speaking eloquently (a test of enunciation is one of the most reliable assessments of general intelligence). He displays a thirst for and ever-expanding fund of knowledge, and expresses an ability to retain, organize and integrate it.

And although intelligence is not the most malleable characteristic we possess, it can be shaped to a deceivingly degree by environmental factors....environmental factors that we must construct for ourselves. Clooney described a routine of cognitive stimulation that keeps his intellectual motor running smoothly - he works on and memorizes intellectually dense scripts, and hosts parties for the purposes of conversing with other intellectual heavyweights. Intelligence is like a muscle and Clooney exercises it quite well.

Gratitude: Gratitude improves well-being and buffers against anxiety/depression. This is why clinicians often seek to help patients manufacture more of it through such interventions as writing gratitude letters to loved ones, or recalling three small things from the day that induce a sense of graciousness. Clooney exhibits this character strength in spades. When asked why he insists on working on "happy" sets, Clooney passionately articulated how acutely aware he was of his lot in life: "I am in the luckiest business in the world, I'm very aware of catching the brass ring. I'm very aware that had it not been for a Thursday night television spot for ER...then I don't have this career."

Expertise: It is tremendously important to have expertise in something. Research has shown that the presence of even one valued hobby in the life of an at-risk youth (a child born into a poor, drug addicted family, for instance) can shape a healthier trajectory of success. Expertise in a particular area is also one of the richest sources of autonomy, meaning, mastery and efficacy that exists, and these elements of identity are the foundation to a healthy life. There are a few highlights from Clooney's life story worth mentioning in this vein.

Nick, Clooney's father, worked in show business. He was a member of the first generation of television show hosts. Nick struggled early on, professionally speaking, and worked long hours for a revolving door of employment positions. Clooney and his siblings often helped his father with the entrepanuerial ventures. This experience stands out for two reasons: A. success has been associated with childhood's that contain some adversity, but not too much. B. Practice: Many studies have noted that practice - 10,000 hours at least - leads to expertise in a rather concrete way. Clooney has become an expert at filmmaking, as evidenced by the consistent critical acclaim for his movies, and he benefited from an earlier start than most.

Sure, good fortune and good looks plays an important role in his work success, but his early introduction to showbiz and his father's persistence and work ethic should not be underestimated as key contributing factors.

Growth mindset: Some people believe that success in life is pre-determined or based on external sources like luck. This is called a fixed mindset, and can derail you from a successful life. Research has shown the opposite, core belief - effort and hard work is the approach that is needed - is associated with success across academic, professional and personal domains of functioning. Clooney had some personal experiences that induced a growth mindset, such as observing the rise and fall and rise of his Aunt, a famous singer. And this point was driven home definitively when he describe himself as the "Pete Rose" of the movies, because "what I lack in skill I can make up for in effort...I've always lacked skills but that's exciting because that only means I have to learn new skills." This comment is the embodiment of this stable, hugely important attitude toward life.

Meaning-making coping style: We all cope with adversity in a variety of habitual ways. Failing a midterm, and deciding to not study for the Final as a response is an example of a hopeless stance that is awful for a healthy life. When describing an experience with his dying Uncle Clooney unintentionally expressed one of the healthiest coping strategies uncovered by research. He described caring for a beloved Uncle and his deathbed and one gets the sense in listening to this story that it was a slow, painful and ugly death. The Uncle's last breathes were filled with bitterness and resentment. Instead of being scarred by the experience Clooney made positive meaning out of it, walking away with a vow to be more present-minded and goal-oriented in life, to avoid a fate similar to his Uncle's.

Stay tuned for Part II...

Katiedot
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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by it's me on Mon Feb 20 2012, 09:06

hu!

interesting
very well done
IMO

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by Atalante on Mon Feb 20 2012, 12:43

... speaking eloquently ... pity1 lol!

The author is pretty young. Zen And why pick just George, just because of one specific interview. lol!

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by Joanna on Mon Feb 20 2012, 12:51

Because he's obviously interested in him.
There's enough analysing of George going on all the time by gossip sites, forums etc that it's refreshing to get an intelligent opinion.
I've just posted an article he wrote about Up in the Air on
that film's thread, together with another written by someone else.

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by bellybaby on Mon Feb 20 2012, 14:12

I liked the article, and the assessment. From what we know and see of him, it seemed to be spot on.

I can't wait for part two.....the relationship part.....that should be interesting....

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by Cinderella on Mon Feb 20 2012, 14:32

I thought it a very interesting article. Nice that someone in the field can see through the layers. Iā€™m very proud George has learned from his past and excels! Kudos George! Smile

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by Dexterdidit on Mon Feb 20 2012, 23:26

It's a good article and an interesting professional view on things. Can't wait for the next one should be even more revealing.

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by Katiedot on Tue Feb 21 2012, 17:09

Here's part two:

From Psychology Today

The psychological skills underlying George Clooney's success

Published on February 20, 2012 by Jeremy Clyman in Reel Therapy

Here's more on the subtle mechanisms of Clooney's personality and life story:

Achievement of Flow: Flow is the word that researchers have used to describe optimal performance. When an individual is in flow he is being as productive as his talents can allow. Predictably, the greater the intensity and frequency of flow in one's life the greater the success he will realize at work and play. Clooney's work life suggests not only the presence of flow, but the subtle habits and tendencies that foster it to a truly unique degree.

He isn't just a movie star, he's an active participant in his career. He has moved from television to film, and he's propelled himself from actor to director/writer. What he's doing, unconsciously or consciously, is pursuing a delicate balance of comfort and challenge. He doesn't settle for the same, increasingly easy tasks. He said, "I have a real interest in pushing the limits of the industry, because I can. It's something I look to do. And I love working with people who are performing at their very best." He likes seeing in others the thing that he does so well himself. This is the key process underlying flow. He lives on the edge of discomfort with his ambitious choices and it allows a pattern of increasingly automatic behaviors to emerge. It's no coincidence that he now consistently garners Academy Award attention with each new project ("Good Night, Good Luck," "The Ides of March"), as he selects projects that push the envelope of his abilities, and his abilities are getting stronger with each new project.

Humanitarianism: There is a psychological force that underlies well-being, that improves relationships, that induces longevity. It is generativity or the act of contributing and 'giving back' on a societal level. Most of us are too busy keeping our heads above water but if you have the resources and the will, then you can engage in such humanitarian efforts and if you do a whole new level of fulfillment is likely to open up. The sense of meaning, connection and altruism that is unleashed is as healthy for the psyche as omega-3's are for the body. Clooney is a humanitarian of rare proportions. This value of generosity and social awareness probably started with his father, a man whose persona was just as much a part of the journalistic community as it was with showbiz. Clooney was taught to have an awareness of the cultural times, and to measure himself based on his good deeds in this vein. This childhood experience planted the seeds of a social consciousness, an awareness that Clooney has taken into all of his pursuits. This is why, as a filmmaker, he's collaborated so frequently on independent projects and films that aim to express important ideas (not just profits which is the bottom line for Hollywood Studios). On a more global scale, he's defended human rights in Africa, and provided relief in disasters in Haiti, Japan and America.

Social Intelligence: Navigating social relationships in a way that asserts your needs while getting people to like you and trust you is obviously a complicated but critical skill. Listening to Clooney describe how he handles other actors on the set of a film that he is also directing lends insight into just how socially intelligent he is: "It's a very delicate balance because it's a really crappy thing for one actor to tell another actor what to do ā€” it's forbidden ā€” so there is this part of you that knows you're going to be breaking this weird trust." He's got a firm grasp of invisible, but fundamental rules and norms in specific cultural contexts (how actors expect to be treated on the set), and he actively fosters that oh-so-important attitude and approach of gentleness, perspective-taking and compassion.

Self-awareness: This is perhaps the most important psychological skill someone can possess. Psychoanalysts call this "ego strength," as its long been recognized as the most vital process in effective therapy. How clearly do you see who you really are, how deeply do you reflect on your life, and the things you want to stand for, how well do you mold what you stand for with how you actually act in daily life? Someone with high self-awareness can give encouraging answers to these questions. When asked to describe his acting choices Clooney said, "When they do those tributes, those lifetime awards, I want to be able to look back and say that I did things that lasted more than an opening weekend. I want to do important things, things that interested me and leave an impact on the world." It's easy to say it but what was truly impressive was that he thought it to himself awhile ago, and spent the last fifteen years living it out. Not so easy.

His self-awareness was even more evident when he talked about why (as director) he broke his own commitment to himself and assigned the role of Edward R. Morrow to another actor. Even though he wanted to play the role, he knew that Morrow was a figure he needed to be perceived as having 'the weight of the world on his shoulders' and Clooney knew that the public could never perceive him as that person. Knowing how others see you is an advanced level of self-awareness. It's no surprise what he says about the characters that he most enjoys playing (specifically, he cites 'Up in the Air' and 'Michael Clayton'): "I love playing characters who are so confident, so assured, and then as the movie unfolds, everything they thought they knew comes crashing down." He's so self-aware that he enjoys embodying people who seem self-aware, learn how blind they really are, only to eventually be able to see themselves with true clarity.

Kindness: This is another key character strength and clearly a skill that underlies personal life satisfaction and relationships. Clooney, when asked what was the most important characteristic in working with someone, said 'kindness.' "Nothing good comes out of creating space that you don't feel welcome in." Who would have thought a Hollywood star would say something so Buddhist. It's also striking how much he's thought of kindness given that it's one of the least endorsed, least prevalent of the character strengths.

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by Joanna on Tue Feb 21 2012, 17:33

Quote.."Kindness: This is another key character strength and clearly a skill that underlies personal life satisfaction and relationships.

Clooney, when asked what was the most important characteristic in working with someone, said 'kindness.' "Nothing good comes out of creating space that you don't feel welcome in."
Who would have thought a Hollywood star would say something so Buddhist.
It's also striking how much he's thought of kindness given that it's one of the least endorsed, least prevalent of the character strengths."



Thank you George. A good concept IMO

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

Post by it's me on Wed Feb 22 2012, 00:43

really good Thumbs up!

so good that I would suggest him
to cut the space
between us

right now! Wink

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Re: The psychological skillset of George Clooney

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