Becoming James Bond (Part II)

In part 1 of “Becoming James Bond,” I introduced the reader to Jungian psychology in relation to the hero archetype. According to Carl Jung, the archetypal hero embodies the personal and collective unconscious and appears in religions and mythologies across time. You’ll find it in literature and movies. Some authors like J. K. Rowling (author of the Harry Potter novels) are conscious of what they’re doing, and others are not, but those who use it are tapping into it on some level.

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Though all heroes share a mythological pattern, James Bond is unique in his own right. He’s smooth, calm, confident, and charming. He has exemplary style. He has many skills. He is cultured, yet dangerous. Women adore him. You don’t find that in Harry Potter, and certainly James Bond is more prolific, having 26 movies under his belt as of this writing, which spans a timeline of over 50 years! Twelve actors have played the role, each bringing their own interpretation of the legend to the big screen, while still portraying crucial aspects of Bond’s manner without changing his underlying makeup.

What makes Bond so distinctive and memorable is that he represents the British spirit. The books were written by an English author named Ian Fleming, who also worked for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, and who after the war decided to write a spy novel, his first being Casino Royale. His James Bond character was influenced by many people he met during the war that typified the secret agent/commando persona because they were real spies and commandos. It is said that one in particular who worked for MI6 wore handmade suits and was chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce.

The British have a long history of social class ranking. For example, the term Gentleman was actually pegged at the lowest end of the gentry (or of high social class), Esquire and Knights being of higher social standing, and Royalty being at the very top. Though originally written in as upper class, James Bond has since changed his class many times throughout the film series (Sean Connery, arguably one of the greatest Bonds of all time, comes across as someone with working class beginnings).

As a universal hero archetype as well as being a symbol of modernity, Bond is a mixture of culture and timelessness. He adapts without compromising his values, he’s ever present in our psyches, and damn, does he look good!

We all understand the value of looking our best. Whether you’re rich or poor, taking the time to look good will affect how people perceive you. These, of course, are always subject to the cultural values of the society and environment, so be sure to dress accordingly. When Bond travels to various locations around the globe, he makes sure to blend in, but always with style. Being well dressed can also be psychologically rewarding, leaving you feeling more powerful and able to perform at a much higher level. It has also been shown to improve abstract thinking, which can help you in competitive environments that require mental prowess.

A good book to start with when learning the basics of men’s style is Esquire’s The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good. Make sure to check it out.

Being well groomed is also not to be glossed over. Get a good haircut. Trim your nails. Shave regularly, or trim your beard. James always keeps things neat, so be sure to take time out each day for proper hygiene/grooming.

Here are a few products that I recommend: Hair products (Suavecito Pomade for Men, Layrite Deluxe Original Pomade), a double edge safety razor (the one I have is a Merkur Long Handled Safety Razor MK23C), razor blades (I recommend Feather for the sharpest blade and Astra for more sensitive skin), a shaving brush (a great inexpensive one would be the Omega Shaving Brush PRO 48 or if you want to plop down some money for a top-of-the-line badger brush go for the Edwin Jagger Best Badger Shaving Brush), and shaving soap (you can’t go wrong with Proraso, but there are many others).

Though James Bond shaves with a straight razor in Skyfall, you can skip that and go with the double edge safety razor instead, which I linked to above.

Staying fit is another very important lifestyle choice. It’s no secret that in order to be a good 00 Agent, James has to stay physically and mentally fit. If you sit around all day at work and at home, your body becomes weak and soft. As your body loses it’s strength, energy, and flexibility, the mind follows in lockstep. A sedentary lifestyle is not conducive to good health and esteem. Do yourself and the ladies a favor – lift weights, bike, swim, and run. You need to build mental and physical strength, as well as endurance. You will see that the quality of your life will increase substantially.

I recommend getting a gym membership. I have one at LA Fitness. It’s $25-$30 per month depending on what deal you get. Be sure to negotiate for $25/month for multi-gym access if possible and a low initiation fee (one-time fee). Serious about barbell training? Some commercial gyms like LA Fitness have a few power racks, but if you’re into power lifting, then a specialty gym is recommended. Another thing to remember – Always negotiate. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for what you want, and ask again. Be ready to walk away if necessary.

Do you feel confident enough to protect yourself and your loved ones in a confrontation? Another good idea is joining a dojo and learning self defense. James Bond is prepared for any threatening situation that might come his way. In order to help get into shape for his role as Bond, Daniel Craig learned Krav Maga, which combines Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and Aikido for real world self defense.

For staying motivated throughout your physical and mental training, it is highly recommended to get a training partner. It’s hard to get yourself in the gym on a regular schedule if no one is there to push you, especially at the beginning. This is essential.

In terms of specific workouts, do some compound exercises. These exercises are more efficient and effective for building strength because they act on many different muscle groups at once, rather than isolated exercises that are only good for minor tweaks. Daniel Craig’s workout for Casino Royale was a combination of powerlifting with compound exercises. The heavy weights elevate your heart rate and is a great way to get some cardio in for burning off body fat. Examples of compound exercises include the overhead press, power clean, bench press, squats, and deadlift.

How clean you keep your living space is a reflection of your mind. Make your bed every morning. Vacuum and dust. Organize your paperwork/email. Keep a healthy wardrobe with ironed dress shirts, suits, and blazers. An organized, clean environment will affect your mind in a good way.

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Once your living space is pristine, set aside some time for meditation every day, preferably after a cold shower. If you’re familiar with the books, James Bond is known for taking a shower that started hot and ended cold. The cold shower has a range of benefits such as increasing norepinephrine in the brain (elevating your mood and wakefulness, while also reducing inflammation and pain), strengthening the immune system, and burning fat. If you want to train your body for improved circulation, start with a hot shower for as long as you want, and for the last 2 minutes end with cold water. Health benefits aside, this is also a very powerful technique for building will power.

After your cold shower, you will have the energy to sit and meditate for 5-10 min. Set a timer and focus on the gentle inhale and exhale of your breath. Let go of any thoughts that arise in your mind. This is excellent training for focus, retraining bad thinking habits, and letting go of compulsions. It is safe to say that Bond has stellar control of his thoughts and emotions. Keeping a clear head is absolutely necessary in his line of work, and life in general.

Regardless of your class, looking sharp and staying fit is something that can be learned, but being cultured is not just looking the part. It’s also about appreciating the finer things in life. You would never find Bond befuddled when presented with a selection of wines. He is a connoisseur of the best things that life has to offer. While he enjoys the opulence of Beluga caviar, he’s also no stranger to “the ordinary plain food of the country” when traveling abroad. His tastes are impeccable and his worldly knowledge is something to be admired.

When he wants to, he’ll break the rules. His own catchphrase, “Vodka martini, shaken not stirred” is his personal preference. When he’s not sipping on Taittinger Champagne in From Russia With Love, he’s inventing his own cocktails.

So, why does everybody want to be James Bond? Simple. He commands respect. He dresses the part, knows what he wants, and gets what he wants – all while remaining cool under pressure. He saves the world and lives a life of leisure and luxury, all on the government’s dime. You gotta love it!