I’ve always enjoyed James Bond movies. As a kid I thought James Bond was very cool, and as an adult I see the character as an example of a person that knows how to get the task DONE. He may be a fictional character in books and on screen but the attitude, talents, and work ethic expressed through him are very real and are qualities we can exude in our real lives to be our best. So what makes James Bond, James Bond? The following Bond qualities can improve your performance in life.
1. Laser Focus
When Bond is given a mission it becomes his main focus that he devotes the utmost amount of effort to. While admittingly the opposite sex may sometimes cause him a temporary distraction, he takes his mission seriously and knows when to set aside even the most alluring of distractions. When details count, you have to stay focused on the mission. To put full effort into any task it needs your complete attention. Humans may be able to multitask to an extent in output but that is at the cost of dividing effort out among all tasks.
The mind works best when it’s doing one task at a time. Cognitively, when you multitask, you actually don’t do two processes at the same moment – your brain skips back and forth between all the tasks it is doing. Even though this switch back and forth is often so rapid the average person does not notice, it is still happening. Those who had delved into meditation practice can tell you this from their observations as well. At any moment you have thought after thought passing by in your mind like debris in a river. There is a lot of clutter going on in your mind whenever you are trying to do anything (or trying to do nothing). Occasionally we grasp onto random thoughts while trying to focus on something else and this causes us to become distracted and takes away a percentage of effort from our task at hand. Purposefully adding multiple tasks to your mental plate adds an even greater mess: Instead of losing 10-15% of your focus to a random passing thought you are now trying to divide out the initial tasks into even segments while also still losing focus to all the random thoughts. It’s a recipe for subpar quality of work, SLOWER output since this transition between tasks is also in itself time that accumulates, and added stress that further hurts performance and can lead to burn out. Burn out from multitasking is so ingrained in our workplaces today that it’s recently been added to the list of mental health syndromes.
Schedule out your time in a way that makes your tasks LINEAR. Devote time to each task individually to achieve the maximum quality, output, and healthy balance of stress.
James Bond makes plenty of mistakes. Sometimes he takes longer than expected to complete his task. Sometimes he even fails (at first). This doesn’t stop him though because he has the quality of persistence. No matter how daunting his mission, and despite failing at times, he keeps going. He doesn’t like to give up because he knows he can only truly fail if he decides to quit. Even when it looks like he is going to walk away from his job, he gets it back together, gets back in the fray, and comes out victorious.
Few people truly exude this quality as well as Bond but even a little inspiration to be more persistent can achieve amazing results. Too often we give up when it gets difficult or even when we just THINK we are going to fail. We don’t see out the results of our work to their fullest and pull the plug prematurely. We fall and instead of getting back up we roll over and give in to failure. Most entrepreneurs experience a lot of failures before they are ever successful. Many even go bankrupt, live in their cars, and struggle back to success from rock bottom. Persistence is the quality these business-minded people have that sets them apart from the rest. It’s the quality that pushes athletes to train to become champions – persistence is closely related with consistency – because they know that results don’t happen overnight and they know that you don’t always win each match on the path to becoming a champion.
3. He Conditions Himself
James Bond trains for his job and treats it with the same importance as each mission itself. He makes his skills seem easy and his actions fluid in execution because he has spent time properly training. Everyone needs to condition their body and mind to keep their physical and mental health at their best. Everything you do is easier when you are physically and mentally adept to better handle anything thrown at you. This also means training your skills to better execute your job tasks, life responsibilities, and interests. We should never stop learning. You are never “done” with your education and training. Life doesn’t stay the same and neither do you. You have to adapt to new advances in technology, new ideas/knowledge discovered, new challenges or limitations that find you, and if you aren’t making the attempt to keep up with it then you fall behind. If you stop training your body – your physical conditioning regresses. If you stop training your mind – your mental conditioning regresses. You can’t push pause on life.
Take time to exercise. Take time to meditate. Take time to read and learn. Invest time and effort into yourself. Neglecting your health will always cost you down the road – both in MONEY and TIME LEFT LIVING.
4. He Stays Cool Under Pressure
Bond is mentally resilient. He has trained himself to keep his cool in stressful situations so he can think clearly. Think of how hard it is to see through water when it is turbulent compared to when it is calm and still. Stirred up water picks up debris, swirls, and obstructs the view through it. Calm, still waters let all of the debris settle to the bottom and the water becomes clear like glass allowing full clarity to see it how it is and everything it includes.
If you train your mind to remain calm then you vastly improve your clarity of thought when things get tough. This can let you make better decisions not clouded by fear, panic, and ignorance. It is much easier to see things for how they really are when your mind is calm. Consider taking up meditation practice from a qualified teacher/expert.
5. He Doesn’t Let Negativity Stop Him
He tries his best even when others say he will fail or that something can’t be done. He gives it a shot. He doesn’t let the fear of potential failure keep him from trying. In fact, it often motivates him to try even harder to prove them wrong (them usually being ‘M’). Ever gave up before you even began because someone said you’d just fail? Chances are you have. It’s common to get discouraged from the negativity of others. We tend to fear failure like it’s a great taboo but it really isn’t – everyone fails at things! We learn by making mistakes. Everyone knows this deep down. So, if you do fail at something you had good intentions with it’s not unusual, and it is only as big of a deal as you make it in your mind. As we talked about when discussing PERSISTENCY it also isn’t the end so it isn’t the thing to be feared. Not trying, or giving up are much more fearful activities.
6. He Is Passionate For His Work
This type I am referring to isn’t the dangerous type of passion (one that ignores reality and clouds judgment with overpowering emotion) but the healthy one that is an expression of true interest in what you are doing. It is not possible to truly put 100% into a task you don’t believe in or care about. It is unfortunate we tend to take on careers and roles that we have limited interest in other than collecting a paycheck. This isn’t healthy, nor is it productive or beneficial for anyone involved.
The solution? Find your ikigai. Ikigai is your purpose or reason for being in life. While this may sound cheesy at first it isn’t as wonky as it seems. Ikigai is a combination of 4 things.
- Something the world needs. Something positive that the world demands use for that you can feel good about at the end of the day. Something that helps people rather than hurting them.
- Something you LOVE. You truly enjoy it, you have a genuine interest, and you want to do it.
- Something you are GOOD at. While you can work to be better at anything, there are certain things you will find that you excel at. Your ikigai will be one of these things. Something that comes more naturally and easily for you, or something you’ve reached high levels of proficiency at.
- Something you can be PAID FOR. Finally, your reason for being should also provide your livelihood so you don’t have to live a double life to survive. Many people have turned their hobbies and interests into careers that provide all of their basic needs and even to great successes. They found a way to get paid for what they loved to do. It’s important to do it in that order as well: Find what you love, and then find a way to get paid for it – versus – trying out things you can get paid for until you find one you love.
These four elements of ikigai realise as a merging of your Mission, Passion, Profession, and Vocation. When they synchronize they become your ikigai. James Bond is the hero that is needed to save the day, he enjoys his work, he is quite good at it, and it provides him his living – being 007 is his ikigai.
7. He Takes Time To Have Fun
James Bond may seem like a perfect example of strict seriousness but look more closely. He takes vacations. He takes time off for fun even while on missions. He brings light heartedness into serious situations with his quick wit and humor.
If we approach our life without balance in mind then we are destined for burn out. You need a break. You need sleep. You need FUN. This lets you recharge. We only have so much energy to use and have to rest our bodies and minds to replenish that energy. It is reckless to be in ‘go mode’ all the time thinking that you can just keep pushing indefinitely without stopping for a moment. Unfortunately many extend this mindset to others around them: parents may push children to take on too many activities or spend too much time studying (beyond the point of it being effective), companies push teams for greater and greater outputs without increasing their resources accordingly, and employers expect more and more work accomplished with less hours. It is easy to get lost in craving results, easy to become too focused on measuring output, that you forget you (and others) need rest. We need activities that take our minds away from the constants of our work and provide opportunities for imagination, and recreation.
Let’s break down the word “recreation” for a moment. It quite literally means to “recreate” or “restore”. It is an activity that restores us to our fullest, ready state. Effort takes energy, and that drain on our energy creates the need to replenish ourselves. This isn’t a luxury – this isn’t just something that is desirable – this is something that is of utmost necessity. If you don’t replenish the energy lost from your effort then your performance will suffer, and then output also suffers.
In the quest to ever increase output you actually decrease it when you neglect recreation time. For a great example of the power of rest just look to bodybuilding – you train in the gym with the goal in mind of getting larger muscles – hypertrophy. Without knowing what you are doing you may think that it’s as simple as “The more time I spend lifting in the gym, then the larger my muscles will be!” but that’s an incorrect assumption based on obsessing over output. When you are in the gym, training is breaking DOWN your muscles. You don’t grow muscles in the gym. You grow muscles during REST on your non-lifting days and while you sleep. You MUST rest for your body to react to the stimulus of the overload of your muscles – only then will your body repair and recreate those muscle tissues better than before. Bodybuilders know the importance of rest and they (or their trainers) schedule their training routine accordingly ensuring they get the right balance of it. It’s easy to see how neglecting working hard/training for something can lower output but we can’t forget that neglecting rest and recovery also decreases output/results.
This is the easiest quality on this list to embody and it’s also one that can make the most difference! Make sure to schedule time for yourself to have fun, recover, and be ready to put forth your best effort again when you are needed most. Play around with your scheduling to find the right balance for YOU that leaves you feeling your best. It will improve your attitude, fill you with energy, decrease stress giving you added mental clarity, and further improve your health.
The Name Is Bond, James Bond.
There you have it. Implement these 7 qualities and you might soon find yourself saying “Mission Complete”.