Spoiler Alert and Disclaimer
Before jumping in, I highly recommend reading the original novel Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum or at least watching The Bourne Trilogy series if you haven’t already. If you don’t really care about the books or movies and just want to become superhuman like the films main character Jason Bourne, I have provided a synopsis of the The Bourne Identity to bring you up to speed.
A note for the impulsive: Please read Dynathrive’s Medical Disclaimer.
Who Is Jason Bourne? — A Synopsis
Jason Bourne is a fictional character portrayed by Matt Damon. Bourne is a CIA operative previously trained to assassinate targets governed by his clandestine superiors who run special US government operative missions.
In the beginning scenes of The Bourne Identity, the first film of the series, we find Bourne floating in the Mediterranean Sea with two bullet wounds in his back. He is quickly rescued by Italian fishermen and treated for his distress. Apart from his bullet wounds, the fisherman examining him comes across an unusual microchip found surgically implanted in his hip; the chip shines a laser beam that displays digits to a Swiss Bank. Bourne eventually regains consciousness on the ship, but is now suffering from amnesia. He cannot recall his own name, nor can he relate any of his present habits and skills to a familiar or past life.
Curious about the numbers on the chip, Bourne makes his way to the Gemeinschaft Bank in Zurich, where he retrieves a safe deposit box with a large sum of international currency, passports from various countries, multiple credit cards, a hand-gun, a watch, multi tools, additional credentials and other technical assets beneficial to his survival.
He then seeks out refuge at a US embassy, only to come across a military ambush. He fortunately escapes with the help of a nomadic German woman Marie, who agrees to drive him to an address located in Paris for $20,000. Although skeptical about the offer, Marie ends up agreeing after Bourne calls her bluff with his persistent bribery and reverse psychology.
On a mission to find answers Bourne is unaware that his once sought out allies in the government agency are now his lethal adversaries. Bourne is a current liability for a number of officials running Operation Treadstone, a top-secret black ops program in charge of turning US servicemen into superhuman assassins through rigorous mental and physical training. The CIA now wants him dead due to a mission he failed that could potentially expose their corrupt organization.
As the plot develops, we start learning more about the mysterious Jason Bourne’s character and his wide array of tactical skills and intelligence. Bourne’s expertise in hand-to-hand combat, elite marksmanship, elusive driving, situational awareness, ability to speak multiple languages, overall mental and physical congruence begin to reveal a highly bred superhuman. He’s a $30 million dollar weapon gone rogue who will not stop until he receives answers to who he is, where he came from and why people are trying to kill him.
Let’s Begin The Emulation
Despite the fact that Bourne is a fictional character, he is still a complete badass. Did you know there are real life people like Bourne serving the nation today? Check out Howard E. Wasdin and Chris Kyle’s stories for example.
Having said that, my fascination with Bourne’s character is twofold – not only is Bourne highly intelligent, he is also a physically trained human dynamo.
Now, what he does throughout the movie is unlawful and dangerous and of course should NOT be portrayed in real life scenarios. That goes without saying, but why can’t we take select beneficial bits and pieces of Bourne’s character and mesh them into our own lives?
In this article, I will do just that by providing you, the reader, with information about how to best implement similar strategies to build your own LEGAL version of the Jason Bourne character. Some of these strategies can be subject to consequence if not used properly or ethically so take everything with a grain of salt and please make your own judgments on what is beneficial to you and what is irrelevant in YOUR OWN LIFE.
I encourage you to think about this quote before reading any further…
“Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” — Franz Kafka
Now this quote does NOT pertain to everything in life, but I believe in matters of survival and human optimization, it can be an important code to live by.
Super Human Trait #1: High Level of Intelligence
Transform Yourself into a Memorization Machine
Bourne is a proficient memorizer, with the exception of his personal identity; he can internalize copious amounts of information at first blush. We see this in a few occasions during The Bourne Identity, where he writes down his lengthy safe deposit box number without a single flinch of memory recall. And who could forget the classic quote in the diner scene when he says to Marie…
Chances are your memory hasn’t served you to this extent in real life but I am sure at one point or another in your lifetime you have been in a position where you had to memorize a speech or formulas outside of your personal interest. Never undermine the arbitrary requirement of these skills in your daily life. When you first meet someone, learn to remember their name the instant they tell you, start remembering phone numbers and strings of digits, grocery lists, addresses, recipes, quotes, and so on. It’s time to start digging deep into your neural architecture and rewire how you process information.
Here are some ways to improve your memory that you can utilize immediately:
- Top 6 Memory Techniques
- Anki (FREE downloadable flash card simulation program)
- Be in a constant frenzy of reading and writing. They both help immensely with memory recall and new ideas. Focus on comprehension when reading, not just leisure. Make sure to mark pages and write down anything of importance for later reference. The pleasure of finishing a book is not about the surplus of notches on your reading list, but more importantly the amount of information you were able to download into your brain and the capacity to summon it at any point in time.
Establish Situational and Observational Awareness
There is never a point where Bourne isn’t on his game. When not in fight mode, Bourne is constantly looking for clues and indications in his surroundings that will give him the upper hand. A great example of this is when he escapes the US embassy in The Bourne Identity by taking a radiophone from an officer and removing a map of the building off the wall, using both assets to eventually escape without getting caught. Another example of employing his instincts for survival occurs at the beginning of The Bourne Supremacy when he spots an assassin looking for him and immediately searches for Marie so they can run away.
Being able to read the hidden meanings of situations like Bourne can is not as hard as you might think. It’s just a matter of being present in your surroundings and going with your gut instinct. Bourne does so by observing the people, structures, exit ways, safe havens (first aid, embassy), and overall potential threats around him. Everything and anything is a clue to Bourne and he does not disregard what others might consider insignificant.
If you want to learn more about this type of awareness, check out this in-depth article that I highly recommend: A Practical Guide to Situational Awareness
In real life, there likely is no reason to be as hyper aware as Bourne, but it definitely helps give you clarity and the ability to predict trouble before it happens. Stop flittering through the world; it’s not a wandering prairie.
Become a Linguistic Genius
Bourne is fluent in a wide array of languages that include English, French, Russian, Dutch, German, Swedish, and Spanish, an advantage when communicating with the locals. I personally speak two languages fluently, and another with difficulty. Speaking three languages is already quite a feat for some but mastering SEVEN like Bourne makes him quite the full-fledged Polyglot.
There are many ways of learning a particular language, and there is no one best way. It’s rather a matter of what system you commit to and what you put into it to achieve a favorable outcome. Here are a few useful resources for language learning:
Modify Your Communication and Mannerism Skills
Bourne is certainly not the most charming or cheerful character, nor do you ever capture him smiling, unless with Marie, and that is rare considering the fact that they are constantly being chased. Bourne is in a world of unending hostility; he has no time for loosening up. Regardless of this character’s lack of positive affirmations, Bourne is nonetheless equipped with logically persuasive social skills that get him what he wants immediately, without room for discussion or questioning from the opposing party. Bourne is methodical about his approach in a multitude of social matters, even though it may seem irrational or unpredictable at times. He is non-apologetic without reason, he maintains action for what is in his best interest, and he speaks with robust vocal tonality, all while being direct with his message.
Tom Cronin: He’s making his first mistake.
Nicky: It’s not a mistake. They don’t make mistakes. They don’t do random, there’s always an objective, always a target.
The above quote carries with it the following real life takeaway:
DO NOT DABBLE IN RANDOM
Simply put, always have a clear objective in mind. Be direct with your communication when conveying your message.
Like Bourne who is always clear and concise when setting meetings, you should be as well, because hopefully you have other things to worry about than simply participating in a decision war. Next time you plan a meeting, whether it’s casual, friendly, business oriented or even a date, ask yourself: “What would Jason Bourne do?” and depending on your situation, add a dash or even a higher intensity of Bourne’s mannerisms to the mix.
And if you ever find yourself in a situation where the opposing party doesn’t follow through with the plans mentioned, bring some clarity into their world and let them know about it.
“5:30 pm, Paris today, Pont Neuf! You come alone, you walk to the middle of that bridge, you take off your jacket, face East, I’ll redial this number.”
After Bourne spots numerous agents surrounding Conklin at the meeting point…
“I told you to come alone! I guess that was too complicated, so try this, I’m gone.”
Bourne’s no slouch – you disregard his plans, and he leaves. There are no leashes on a freedom mindset, even when the CIA is tracking you down.
Super Human Trait #2: Increased Physical Aptitude
Obtain a High Threshold for Pain
Are you someone that immediately lunges for the Ibuprofen upon getting a headache, or become discontent about daily tasks that should be done quickly and efficiently, but you’d rather complain or stress about temporary minutiae? Or are you someone who realizes that when you are going through distress, you must still go on, because each effort you make is either a step forward to get stronger, a standstill to stay stagnate or a step backward to grow weaker. Start making steps to get stronger even if you feel weak because that effort builds discipline and keeps you from digging yourself into a deeper pit of agony.
Again, I understand Bourne is a fictional character, but the man is indestructible! A character such as Bourne has cut off all signals of physical pain from his emotions, and conditioned his mind to disregard suffering for short and long periods of time so that he can move forward on his mission. Bourne is always on the run, but in full control no matter whether he has broken bones, been shot or highly traumatized from being t-boned by a police car… the man just keeps going. For the most part, real life is a breeze compared to what Bourne goes through, but regardless, it is imperative to have a high threshold for pain so that you can deal with everyday tasks easily. Don’t forget to leave some room for those highly stressful moments.
The best advice I can give on dealing with pain is to embrace and learn from it. Hardships that have both an external and self-imposed force (future article about this topic coming up) are educational experiences and they both need time for self-reflection. Read any Stoic philosophy book you can get your hands on, in particular Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters translated by Moses Hadas. The mind must turn petty complaints and bewilderment into productive behavior so it can lessen pain both directly and indirectly.
Be Equipped with Combat and Fitness Skills
Throw any police officer, CIA agent or even a highly trained assassin at Bourne, and he will dismantle what was once a threat, and turn it into a feeble attempt at moxie. Jason Bourne is the crème de la crème of conflict and battle. Whether verbal or physical, he handles himself exceptionally without the need for external efforts; he is a one-man army. Bourne is masterful in hand-to-hand combat, stick/knife fighting, and marksmanship. He also possesses a strong understanding of using his surroundings to break apart opponents at will.
Of course in real life scenarios, you should do your best to AVOID any confrontation that holds the possibility of critically injuring not only YOU, but also your OPPOSITION. Since life is not a movie, flashy fight choreography will certainly NOT provide you with the ability to defend yourself in a real life or death situation. If you decide to act out of stupidity or selfishness for your ego, then you should be prepared to endure the inevitable consequences.
On the other hand, at some point or another you could find yourself in a situation where your LACK of ability to defend could be detrimental to yourself and possibly the people around you, especially if you don’t act hastily and logically. I do believe that it is every human’s right to be ready and equipped with ways of defending their own when necessary.
Here is a list of strategies that not only Bourne uses, but the average person could benefit from as well.
- Martial Arts: In the movies, Bourne primarily uses Kali, which is a Filipino style of fighting that uses hand-to-hand combat and weapon based techniques, in particular sticks and knives. If you watch carefully, you will notice that in several scenes throughout The Bourne Trilogy, Jason gets crafty and picks apart his opponents with a Bic pen, a rolled up newspaper, cable wiring, a book and a towel. A lot of what Kali teaches is transferable in using your environment to defend yourself rather than a traditional weapon. Bourne is a genius in this regard and uses it to his advantage at a moment’s notice.I have found that Bourne also implements variations of Jeet Kun Do (Bruce Lee style kickboxing), Krav Maga (Israeli military self-defense) and Systema (Russian martial arts) throughout the movie. These styles are just as lethal if used with enough experience and agility for self-defense purposes. I suggest finding what suits you the most and employing it. Ladies and gentlemen, if you don’t know a clue about what to do in a physical altercation, find the nearest dojo with any of these self-defense styles I just mentioned and attend a few classes. It’s an investment in your survival in this unpredictable world that you won’t regret, even if you never end up using it.
- Expert Marksman: Throughout the trilogy, you can find Bourne wielding several different styles of guns to eliminate his adversaries. His go to firearm is a Sig Pro handgun, but you will also find him handling a sniper rifle and shot gun with just as much ease and shooting acuity. Bourne is not always armed with a weapon because he doesn’t want to attract attention and blow his cover but when critical conditions arise he is always equipped and ready to fire. I’m sure the majority of the population isn’t even thinking about how to fire a weapon or about carrying one, let alone ever experienced it, but it is another skill-set that could prove handy depending on your circumstance. Visit your local gun range, fire some bullets and maybe even take a course on how to better understand the use and safety of a firearm. Who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy the heck out of it.
- Mobility, Strength and Endurance: Bourne is no particular specialist in physical training; he is rather a well-balanced machine. His body composition is unassuming in concealment, yet toned and equipped with enough speed and strength when unleashed. Bourne is mobile enough to jump from a building through a glass facade, strong enough to knock down multiple henchmen, and fast enough to flee from any would be threat, even when struggling with bullet wounds and a limp. If you want to be a well-balanced endurance and strength machine like Bourne, start putting your body through a variety of movements.
- For Mobility: I highly recommend following the advice of mobility application experts Kelly Starrett and Ido Portal, you won’t regret it.
- For Strength: Bodyweight training and lifting weights is a great place to start (i.e. Power Lifting, Calisthenics, Bouldering). Elliot Hulses’s YouTube channel is great for lifting tips and motivation.
- For Endurance: Start doing SPRINTS. Go all out and get airborne like Bourne does on the beach in Bali. Parkour is another good one to try if you want to make use of the urban environment as a playground and become the ultimate escape artist.
These are all suggestions, and there are many more practices out there for movement. The point is no matter where you are, you should always be moving and finding ways to workout. In the beginning of The Bourne Identity, we see Bourne doing pull-ups on the wooden beam of the ship. Whether you’re at home, on the road, at the park, in the office, MOVE… or else one day, you won’t be able to anymore.
- Memorization: Integrate memorization strategies in your everyday life, not just when obligated to do so. Anything you hear and feel is of importance should be written down and memorized for later reference.
- Situational and Observational Awareness: Always be observant and read situations carefully. Make logical decisions and react when necessary, not out of ego, but out of clearly defined actions suited to that particular moment in time.
- Linguistics and Multiple Languages: Begin with learning a few phrases, because you never know when they might come in handy. This is especially true if you work in an industry or environment where you interact with a lot of people and run into a variety of ethnicities on a regular basis.
- Communication and Mannerisms Skills: “Have clarity in your thoughts, words and actions” – Owen Cook. I couldn’t explain this any better. It really helps to be in line throughout all aspects of communication when you are conveying a message. Be assertive, yet considerate in a succinct format, all at once.
- High Threshold for Pain: This is something that most people shy away from because our natural tendency is to draw towards instant gratification. This doesn’t necessarily solve the problem and only conceals it. A course of action for sustainable and long-term solutions should be favored for the most part. This why I recommend reading the Stoic philosophy which states that when humans embrace pain and hardship, whether for short or long periods without victimizing themselves, they will become stronger and more educated about how to manage their personal situations. This is a lesson for the mind that must be repeated.
- Combat and Fitness: Dedicate yourself to both practices and you will become unstoppable in life. Your body is a vessel for your brain, and this vessel needs to be fine tuned so that it can also perform at its peak potential. A life without full control of your movements and physical capacity is a life that has been tarnished, but one that can be re-established if chosen to.
- Additional Tactics: Be ready for fight or flight at any moment’s notice. Create a bug out bag with survival essentials, wear attire that is stealth and unassuming if need be, modify your EDC’s (Everyday Carries), put together a safe box, become a skilled driver, learn how to perform FIRST AID procedures and lastly, if all else fails, utilize what you already have, rather then what you wish you had.
I hope at this point you are familiar with the key human performance upgrades that Jason Bourne possesses and will utilize a number of these methods where applicable. I take great pleasure in analyzing archetypes such as Bourne and studying what makes them high level, then breaking down a process on how to attain it.
Do not just read and theorize, but LIVE these articles.
It’s all a lesson towards SUCCESS.