Be Like Jason Bourne (Without the Amnesia): Mastering Your Surroundings

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Be Like Jason Bourne (Without the Amnesia):
Mastering Your Surroundings

Ever wonder how spies seem to effortlessly scan a room, assess every detail, and stay cool under pressure? It’s not magic,
situational awareness, and you can harness that power too.

Imagine walking into a bustling cafe. Instead of zoning out with your phone, you subtly take in the scene:
Who’s there?
Are they relaxed or tense? Any odd behaviours? Where are the exits?
This mental snapshot becomes your
baseline, helping you identify anything out of the ordinary.

Why is this important? Like our action hero friend Jason Bourne, being aware empowers you to:

  • Dodge potential threats: Notice someone acting agitated? You can choose to avoid them or discreetly alert security.
  • React confidently: Sudden commotion? Your calm assessment helps you make informed decisions, not panicked ones.
  • Project a warrior vibe: Your focused presence subtly commands respect and fosters safety for yourself and others.

But how do we break free from the distractions of daily life and truly embrace the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act)?

1. Be Present, Not Passive: Ditch the “default mode” of mindlessly scrolling. Actively engage with your surroundings.
listen, and notice details like body language, unusual sounds, or unexpected changes in the environment.

2. Claim Your Space Strategically: Position yourself where you can observe others without being easily surprised.
Opt for corners with a back to the wall or near exits for a sense of control.

3. Trust Your Gut: Pay attention to your intuition. Does something feel off? Don’t dismiss it.
It could be your subconscious picking up on subtle cues.

4. Have a Plan, But Be Flexible: Prepare for common scenarios. What would you do if someone harassed you?
How would you exit a crowded space quickly?
But remember, plans need to adapt to reality. Stay fluid and think on your feet.

5. Practice Makes Progress: Situational awareness isn’t a superpower, it’s a skill honed through practice.
Start small:
be mindful in everyday situations, take self-defense classes, or play “people-watching” games.

Remember, it’s not about paranoia, it’s about empowerment. By developing situational awareness,
you become the calm,
confident hero of your own story, ready to navigate any situation with grace and awareness.
channel your inner Bourne, ditch the distractions, and claim your power of observation!

How to Develop Situational Awareness

Anyone who has seen the Bourne Identity might be interested in the notion of situational awareness.
There’s a scene toward the beginning of that film where Jason Bourne is trying to work out his identity.
He’s alarmed at the way his own mind has been trained to work and explains that within minutes of walking into a diner,
he has assessed the weight and strength of other patrons, memorized the car number plates of the cars parked outside,
identified the exits and even noticed that the bartender is left-handed.

This kind of training really does exist among intelligence officers and military personnel. It’s called ‘situational awareness’
and it essentially involves being able to quickly and easily identify key facts about your surroundings. 

Situational awareness is important for everyone though and certainly for those interested in cultivating a warrior mindset.
Situational awareness allows us to identify potential threats faster so that we can avoid or neutralize them.
It allows us to move quickly and efficiently when the situation calls for it and ultimately it lets us keep ourselves and others safer.

Problem is, most of us have our mind on other things: things like our office, Angry Birds, debt, relationships and the girl
at the office with the short skirt.

How do we get our mind back in the game and start paying attention to the things that matter to us and to those we care about?

The OODA Loop

In the excellent Art of Manliness article, writer Brett McKay describes a method used by Air Force fighter pilot/military
strategist John Boyd. OODA is a four step process that tells us to:


First then, you must observe. This means that you mustn’t completely relax and kick your feet up.
In neuroscience terms, you mustn’t let your ‘default mode network’ kick in (essentially, you must keep your mind on
what’s happening). You should be relaxed yes, but also alert.

Position yourself in any room in such a position that you can see the maximum number of people and avoid letting
people get the jump on you. A good example would be the corner of a room with your back to the wall.
Remain near an exit where possible.

The next step is to orient, which in this context means looking for specific things. Establish a ‘baseline’ by thinking
about the normal behaviour and conditions for a certain area. Look out for examples of deviation from this norm.
Does someone look uncomfortable? Is someone inappropriately dressed? Is there a noise that shouldn’t be there?

Next decide whether or not to act and how to act. Have a plan of action and do not hesitate. Trust your instinct at this
stage and if in doubt, practice caution. Someone acting suspiciously or potentially violently? Try moving away from them,
or alerting them to security. Find an area has an unusual vibe? Then get your family out of there.

Practicing these tips could one day save your life and at the very least, they will help you to adopt a warrior mentality that
will be felt by those around you.

Gerald Pilcher

Gerald Pilcher
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Gerald Pilcher

Through my writings, my aim is simple to inspire, motivate, and guide individuals as they navigate their personal journey toward self-improvement.