How Kobe Bryant Created A Legacy (And You Can Too)
In the same way that music transcends languages, sports is no different. In the wake of the loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and 7 more well-loved, respected members of the basketball community, fans around the world are in mourning. There’s no doubt about it, Kobe Bryant was a legend on the court. He has been an inspiration with how intensely he pushed himself to work hard through his 20-year basketball career – known to always be the first one on the court and the last to leave. He didn’t stop even after retirement, throwing himself into coaching, writing, motivation and fatherhood. His legacy is one to look at when things get tough. Here are 8 lesson’s to take to heart from one of the world’s most revered athletes –
1. “My name is Kobe Bryant, I’m 17 years old. I have the hunger, the motivation and the desire to be the best possible basketball player that I could be.”
Never underestimate the power of … well… your willpower. There is no stronger push than your desire and passion to get to where you want to be. And the best way to do that is to know exactly what you want. Bryant knew that he wanted to be in basketball, despite early setbacks making him believe that it was not going to be his thing. While it might not be an easy task – “What if where I want to be was to change in the next quarter?” – make sure that early on in the planning process, you have a bigger goal or picture of what you want to achieve. Smaller tasks, goals and stepping stones can change throughout your journey but that journey needs to be geared towards one fixed destination. Without a destination, your journey is bound to be filled with confusion, a lack of accomplishments and wasted time.
2. “It’s a long journey but if you focus on the mini-milestones along the way you will find beauty in the struggle.”
The recurring topic when discussing productivity is to break down bigger tasks into smaller, more manageable mini-tasks, or what’s known as incorporating “microproductivity”. This is based on the idea that it’s easier to start small, building momentum and strength to get to the more overwhelming tasks. In the same way that babies start by lifting their heads, then rolling over, crawling and finally taking stumbling steps. Bryant takes it one step further by focusing on the motivating factor behind microproductivity. In starting small, you are more likely to feel fulfilment and a sense of accomplishment that will only motivate and propel you towards working on the big tasks. So send your emails, respond to messages and pick up your phone – get the small things done before tackling the big sales pitches and meetings.
3. “You always want to outwork your potential. As hard as you believe you can work, you can work harder than that.”
For Kobe Bryant, he wanted to be the best basketball player he could be, thus constantly pushing himself to reach that goal. There is a popular Reddit post depicting what Bryant was like even after establishing his career –
At 34 years of age, with 5 NBA championships, 2 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards, 2 scoring titles, and soon to be 2 Olympic Gold Medals, Kobe was still waking up before 4 am and working out for at least 7 hours before practice even began!
It is this level of dedication to improvement that needs to be cultivated to continuously experience success. In this rapidly changing world, it is easy to get left behind. The only way to keep up is to push yourself to get better and better at your craft.
4. “Rest at the end, not in the middle.”
It is common to take a walk, a coffee break, a smoke break or a toilet break during office hours and there is nothing wrong with that (heck, breaks are proven to increase your productivity!). But taking all of the above regularly and still expecting results? You’re doing it wrong. Bryant was not known to slow down, even when he was injured. A lot of the time, it may seem like it’s time to take a break. This is especially true after hours, weeks or months of gruelling work but that may just impede your progress towards your goals. When you’re hurtling down the road at your maximum speed and you see the finish line, do you slow down? The saying work hard, play hard is not effective, think “work hard now, play harder later”.
5. “You just can’t underestimate the power of showing up every single day and doing the work.”
Practice makes perfect, they say. And yet, as it takes 21 days to build a habit, can you imagine working on the same thing for 21 days? Look’s like you will have to if you want to achieve success. Not only did Bryant play despite his many injuries, he got himself to make 100,000 shots during the summer after he fractured his right hand as his shooting skills had suffered. If he had decided that he was going to take a break to heal and get back at it when he was ready, would he have been as successful as he was? Probably not. To reach your goals, work hard and don’t allow yourself to think, “Nah, I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I don’t feel like going to work today”. If you do think these things, remember why you’ve been working so hard in the first place. Don’t make your efforts lose their value over one bad, slow day.
6. “I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.”
The importance of your social group is sometimes not highlighted enough. In the same way that wolves hang around and behave similarly in a pack, humans also reflect the people they surround themselves with. Have you seen a zealous colleague grow passive because of the lack of initiative taken by the people around him/her? Bryant refused to surround himself with people who did not have the same drive he had, often pushing his teammates way past their limits – only to help them discover their potential. It is important to have someone like Bryant or to simply be like Bryant – be the initiator, the passionate one, the driven one and you lead your team to success.
7. "When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure."
Your biggest critic, challenger and hurdle is your mindset. Most of the time, we are scared of the risks or effects of our decisions. This stops us from going far and reaching our true potential. Bryant refused to accept failure, only pushing himself harder when faced with a setback. If your deal doesn’t go through or the client with whom you’ve spent weeks building a relationship with ghosts you, what do you do? Get back up and work on a new lead, a new potential, a new opportunity. There is an abundance of opportunities available for those who actively seek them. It is not feasible to expect that you will hit the jackpot if you do not buy a lottery ticket. In the same way, it is not possible to achieve success if you do not go after it through your work and your daily tasks.
Finally, here’s one to give you the confidence of a champion –
8. "I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have a fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I'm like, 'I just want to chill.' We all have self-doubt. You don't deny it, but you also don't capitulate to it. You embrace it."
For someone as revered as Kobe Bryant to say that he too has insecurities makes him seem that much more relatable. However, one of his greatest qualities (that just so happens to set him apart from his competition) is his ability to embrace his insecurities in order to work towards solving them. It is easy to allow yourself to wallow in your own incapabilities, never addressing the issue if only to avoid it like the plague. By choosing to do this, you will not make any improvement and you will be slashing your value each time. Start embracing your faults, be it the lack of cold calling skills, the inability to formulate a proper relationship with your clients or simply the paralysis of presentations and negotiations. The more one does it, the less it will seem like a flaw and the more it will become a strength. If he can do it, you can do it.
Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the crash in their time of sorrow. We extend our warm wishes, love and support in these trying times.