Business development lessons from James Bond
Ok, so for the purposes of business development, that title is a bit heavy-handed. I don’t mean you need to be a womanising, hard-drinking, heavy-smoking, card shark British spy who saves the world wearing a tuxedo. Unless you want to be.
But I will insist that you need to be a bit like Bond and channel his inner man-child. Consider this.
James Bond’s longevity as a character and franchise is due to one overriding factor: he is the puer aeternus.
A Jungian archetype, the puer aeternus is a forever young child-god who ages and gains experience, but retains the emotional immaturity of an adolescent. They are forever wandering, forever adventuring and forever unfulfilled.
Unlike most narratives or films that conclude in a romantic union, Bond’s are almost purely sexual, only for him to encounter the next ‘Bond woman’ in the next story (it’s perhaps no coincidence that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was critically and popularly derided and George Lazenby’s first and last Bond role: it is the only film where Bond gets married).
From a franchise perspective, each Bond film also needs a new villain. A monster to be overthrown, a societal evil to overcome. These the filmmakers reinvent to reflect the anxieties of the day, whether they are drugs, Soviets or cyber-terrorists.
The constant renewal of these aspects keeps Bond eternally questing and eternally young. And while emotional and psychological immaturity are being leveraged by the writers, actors, producers and filmmakers to perpetuate one of the greatest franchises of all time, they are not necessarily good for real life individuals like you and me.
Unless we leverage a different message.
Having continually renewed goals – villains to overcome – whether in life, sport or business, keeps individuals and teams motivated. The cycle of constant renewal is healthy for sustained, and sustainable, business development and personal maturation.
Think of the successive rings of growth that make a tree strong. Or the way a farmer will rotate crops between fields to allow soil to regenerate.
Think, too, of the AFL’s Hawthorn Hawks, who have just accomplished an incredible premiership threepeat. The top priority for their coaching staff over the off-season will no doubt be how to frame season 2016 in a way that keeps players hungry and motivated.
Specifying those goals will make them easier to understand and approach, just as Bond knowing his opponents’s weaknesses makes that enemy easier to overcome. Remember that Bond spends most of each film learning about his enemy, parrying blows and riposting. Knowing what it takes to achieve your goal means knowing it intimately.
So set goals, re-set goals, set series of goals. Whether it’s having a website up and running by a specific date, training for a half-marathon or eating three meat-free dinners per week, it’s easier and more efficient to have specific, focused goals rather than broader ones. Easier to train for a 2km trial than simply ‘to get fit.’ Easier in business development to focus on making $200,000 revenue in your second year than to ‘be successful.’ Easier for Bond to battle a single steel-jawed terrorist than wage an entire war against terror.
Be unfulfilled like Bond. Be eternally questing. After achieving one goal, just like James Bond you can return to achieve another.
Arm yourself with an exploding pen and a helicopter in a suitcase, and hopefully there’ll be many more films in your franchise.