Two Sundays ago, we lost a legend, sports icon, and great father in Kobe Bryant. With the shocking news of the passing of Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and 7 other passengers in a helicopter accident, millions around the world have cried, mourned, and celebrated his life. Besides being the 4th highest scorer in NBA history with 5 championship rings, he was an incredible father.
As someone who pursued greatness and perfection in all aspects of his life, here are 5 lessons from Kobe’s life:
- Work insanely hard at something you love. Work ethic is a common factor among legends in their respective areas. Kobe was the hardest worker in the NBA during his playing years. He believed that there is time to rest at the end, not in the middle. One season, Jay Williams was determined to prove that he could outwork anyone. He showed up at Staples Center 4 hours before a game against the Lakers to get ready and the only person there was Kobe. He was already in a sweat and was doing game-type moves for the entire time Jay was in the gym and 25 minutes past. Jay asked him after the game why he had been in the gym for so long. Kobe responded, “Because I saw you come in and I wanted you to know that it doesn’t matter how hard you work that I’m willing to work harder than you. You inspire me to be better.” It’s one thing to work hard at your job, but it becomes easier when you are pursuing something you love. When you find a job or passion that you love, it will become easier to put in the extra hours.
- Stay focused on what you are here to do. Don’t let “fun” distract you from what you are here to do. There was a story where the young players on the Lakers wanted Kobe to go out with them the night before a back-to-back game. He agreed to go out but woke them up at 5am the next day to work out. They were there to play basketball and they learned quick that their focus needed to be on the game. He had an incredible ability to ignore the voice inside his head that tried to keep him comfortable. He would get up early every morning to work out while others sleep because he was able to ignore the critic in his head. All business all the time.
- Be there for your family. As great of a basketball player as Kobe was, he always prioritized his family. He was known for still picking up his daughters from school in between workouts. He never compromised time with his family no matter what was going on in his life. Many stories have surfaced about Kobe after the tragedy, but most of them are around the love for his family. One of the most popular videos circulating is of him sitting courtside of a game explaining the game to his daughter.
- You will be misunderstood. I heard a quote the other day saying, “I’m okay with being constantly ridiculed. No one ever constantly tried to ridicule someone who was just good, the critic attacks the greats.” Kobe was seen as an uncompromising leader at times because he demanded greatness out of his teammates. He had to learn how to motivate people in different ways and some didn’t agree with his style. Not everyone will believe in your vision and methods. That is a price you pay to be a legend.
- Invest in the next generation. Kobe was a believer that we should be investing more in younger people than those who are older and experienced because they are the future. Numbers of NBA players and other people were impacted by the guidance and support Kobe offered to help them be the players, men, and women they are today. “Greatness is to inspire the people next to you. How can you inspire a person who then inspires another person and inspire another person? I think that is our challenge as people—to figure out how our story can impact others and motivate them in a way to create their own greatness.” -Kobe
I appreciate you.