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The 9 Eye-Opening Lessons I Learned From An NBA Legend (Kobe Bryant Tribute)
The most important thing is to try and inspire people so they can be great at whatever they want to do.” — Kobe Bryant
On Sunday, we lost one of the most iconic and inspiring individuals of all time at just 41 years old, Kobe Bryant.
Kobe wasn’t just a hall of fame athlete or a champion, he was a husband, father and undeniably one of the greatest leaders in all of humanity.
It really goes to show how fragile life really is. One moment we’re here and another moment we’re gone. Life is such a gift and every day must be lived as if it’s our last because one day it will be.
As a tribute to Kobe’s legacy, I want to share 9 valuable lessons that I’ve learned from him over the years:
1)Relentless Work Ethic
“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.” — Kobe
To say that Kobe had a relentless work ethic is an understatement…
He was the first person in the gym at 4 am for practice and played a game with an injured shoulder forcing him to use his opposite hand. He’s even played a game with a 102-degree fever! But, why?
In his mind, showing up was everything. Kobe believed that his number one job as a basketball player was to show up to every game and every practice no matter what the circumstances were…even if that meant no sleep. (he pulled an all-nighter on gameday)
His ability to show up early, out work and out practice are just a few key tactics that helped him reach his level of success. He was always willing to put in the most hours because he didn’t want to get beat by any of the competition and never made excuses.
That’s the type of work ethic that begins separating you from the rest of the crowd. When you’re willing to work on your craft or business and put in the hours when everyone else rather be sleeping — that’s when you start pulling away from the pack.
You must be willing to outwork anybody. That’s how champions are made. That’s how you succeed. That’s how you become legendary. That’s a world-class work ethic.
2)Mastery Happens When Nobody Is Watching
Kobe was a master at his craft. He wasn’t just born with talent…he was constantly refining and improving on his skills in practice, whether that was with teammates or by himself. This type of dedication has made him one of the best NBA players of all time.
To be a master, you must become obsessed with what you’re doing. Kobe said something very profound which was this:
“If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it. A lot of people say they want to be great, but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness. They have other concerns, whether important or not, and they spread themselves out.”
That’s exactly the mentality you must-have whether you want to build a successful business or become the best in your field. You have to be willing to put in hours and hours into beating on your craft…more hours than anybody that is in your industry.
You must be willing to become a master…especially if you want to succeed at your craft or in business. Mastery has been something I’ve been focusing on over the last couple of years and it has significantly improved every area of my life.
3)Leaders Create Leaders
“I liked challenging people and making them uncomfortable. That’s what leads to introspection and that’s what leads to improvement. You could say I dared people to be their best selves.” — Kobe B.
On the court, Kobe was a powerful leader for his team. He was always pushing his teammates to be their best. One thing Kobe is known for is watching film during half time with his team so that everyone knew where adjustments needed to be made.
But, Kobe wasn’t just a leader on the court…he was a leader for his wife, daughters and the millions of people that looked up to him. The same type of focus he would take to the court is the same focus he would give off the court to his family and fans.
This is what made Kobe one of the greatest mentors both on and off the court. But, he learned to be this way because of the mentors that guided him in life who includes Phil Jackson (Former Lakers Head Coach), Jerry West (Former GM for Lakers) & his Dad. Great mentors and coaches are must-haves for success.
Not only did Kobe’s teammates look up to him as a mentor but so did his daughter Gigi, especially in the recent years after his retirement. His daughter had the talent and mentors that would have allowed her to carry the torch of his basketball legacy. May they both rest in peace.
Here’s an excerpt from his book “Mamba Mentality” where Kobe gives insight into leading his team that any business leader should begin implementing today:
“I varied my approach from player to player. I still challenged everyone and made them uncomfortable, I just did it in a way that was tailored to them. To learn what would work and for who, I started doing homework and watched how they behaved. I learned their histories and listened to what their goals were. I learned what made them feel secure and where their greatest doubts lay. Once I understood them, I could help bring the best out of them by touching the right nerve at the right time.”
4)Why Passion Is Everything
There’s no hiding that Kobe had a deep love and passion for basketball. That love for basketball, his dedicated work ethic, and competitiveness are what made him a 5-time champion. He admits that he was obsessed with winning and being the best.
When you love something at the core, it becomes an obsession. An obsession can be both healthy and unhealthy depending on what it is. For Kobe, it was his hatred towards losing and love for winning & the game of basketball that made him a legendary athlete.
That’s why it’s essential to fall in love with the process of what you do because if you’re in it just for the money, fame, and accolades…then you’re not going to make it very far. When you genuinely love your craft, no matter what obstacle you face, you won’t stop until you reach your destination.
5)Don’t Be Afraid To Learn New Skills
In one of Kobe’s interviews, he talks about the questions that he was asking himself after he retired from playing basketball back in 2016. One of the questions that came up repeatedly for him was “what do I enjoy doing?”
This question is what led Kobe to cultivate his new passion and skill for storytelling. After Kobe retired, he wasn’t finished by any means. Once he realized that storytelling was something that he loved to do, he went tunnel vision on telling stories through film.
Kobe moved forward with this new skill he wanted to develop and founded multimedia production company Granity Studios to develop content that would blend sports concepts with fantasy and compelling storytelling.
In 2018, Kobe won an Academy Award, a Sports Emmy and an Annie Award for his short animated film “Dear Basketball.” He was proud of being the first African American to win an award in that category and believed there needed to be more diversity.
It just goes to show that no matter what new venture or skill you want to pursue, when you’re all in and become 100% committed to bringing that vision to life…anything is possible.
Here’s a quote that sums up Bryant’s mission for being a storyteller, “I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters, and leadership in order to inspire the next generation.”
6)The Mamba Mindset
If there’s anything Kobe is known for outside of basketball, it’s his mamba mindset.
At 13 years old, Kobe decided that he was going to be one of the best basketball players that ever played and anything outside of that lane he didn’t have time for…and that’s exactly what he did. But, why did he think this way?
In an interview, Kobe mentioned that when he would see his inspirations Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan do these unbelievable things on the court, he’d tell himself “can I get to that level…I don’t know but let’s find out.” He was willing to start that process.
Kobe had the “if he can do it so can I” type of mindset which is powerful because it’s true. When you model the actions and behaviors of other people who are successful in your field, then you can get the same results or better if you follow their footsteps.
Whether it’s building a business, becoming a great athlete, learning a new skill or adopting a new habit…modeling someone who’s already successful at what you want to do saves you the most time, money and mistakes in the long run.
When you combine curiosity, passion, work ethic, dedication and focus with a burning desire to win no matter what…you get the mamba mentality.
7)How You Handle Pressure Is Everything
“Everything negative pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.” — Kobe
In both business and life, you’re going to have to make vital decisions when you’re under pressure. Sometimes, the decision you make may not be the right one but that’s where we learn the most. This is what Kobe experienced in his first year in the NBA.
In 97’, 18-year-old Kobe had to make a choice to shoot the ball in the final seconds of a needed win playoff game against the Utah Jazz. He took the shot with confidence but instead of hitting the game-winning basket, it was an airball on top of four others that led to the Lakers losing in overtime 98–93. But, what happened next was everything…
This apparent failure became the “turning point” for Kobe, who would spend the entire off-season working on his shot “until the sun came up.” Kobe wasn’t thinking “I’m a failure” but instead used his failure as feedback to work on what he needed to improve.
Since then, Kobe went on to have 36 game-winning shots in his 20-year career and the best part is that the last game-winning shot was in his career finale against the Utah Jazz. Even under heavy pressure, Kobe wasn’t afraid to rise to the occasion.
8)The Mamba In Business
The same relentless work ethic, passion, drive, ambition, and mindset that Kobe had for basketball, he took to business. This is how he became an unstoppable entrepreneur, author, investor, podcast host, and filmmaker.
In 2013, Kobe co-founded Venture Capital firm Bryant Stibel which invested in the tech, data and media industries that added up to $2 Billion in assets. In 2016, he founded the multi-media production company Granity Studios after he retired…he was just getting started in his entrepreneurial journey.
That’s why so many people in the entrepreneur space look up to Kobe as inspiration because the mindset he had for basketball can be modeled in business. When you have a strong work ethic and passion for what you do, you can become anything in this world.
9)The Importance of Family
Kobe was a father and husband first & a basketball player second. That’s what made him an exceptional leader. It’s that he showed up not only as a leader for his team but also for his family. That is what makes him a great human being.
With his level of success, it can be difficult to balance work with family life but he did everything to make it work. In one of his interviews, Kobe mentioned how he and his wife Vanessa would sit down to go over his busy schedule before the season started so that he could make sure not to miss any birthdays or special holidays with his family.
We shared the same values when it comes to family. It doesn’t matter how rich and famous you are, it doesn’t make family any less important. Taking care of a family is one of the greatest responsibilities to have as a man and Kobe excelled in that too.
Kobe and his daughter Gigi will never be forgotten. His legacy, love, wisdom, and lessons will live forever. During this time, the people who ultimately need our prayers the most are his wife, daughters, and family. Pray that they heal, grieve and stay strong.
In 41 years, Kobe made a significant impact on humanity and culture. Earth lost two great humans, but heaven gained two amazing souls. Thank you, Kobe, for showing us how to be heart-led leaders through your example. May you both rest in paradise.
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