“From the beginning, I wanted to be the best. I had a constant craving , a yearning, to improve and be the best.” – Kobe Bryant
The death of Kobe was a great shock, not only to the basketball world but everywhere. Kobe and his mamba mentality changed how people do life world over. Whether you loved or hated him you were a fan of Kobe. What he represented was phenomenal as an athlete, husband, father and entrepreneur. As high achievers go, Kobe was high up there with the greats without a doubt and in honour of this man I shall try decode the mamba mentality.
Kobe defined the mamba mentality as “a constant quest to find answers. It’s that infinite curiosity to want to be better, to figure things out”. It is a mindset where you do not worry about what people will say and think about what you do. You will go out there and lay it all down for the purpose of being better. Seems easy to say but there is a lot that goes into such a mindset, you have to think and act differently. Below are some things I learned from Kobe and I believe form part of the mamba mentality.
Time is important
Time is really the only asset you have. Time is what creates everything. Time is what makes you money. Time is what allows you to eat, sleep, read, learn. Time is the most precious resource.
When deciding where to invest your time, be extremely greedy. You have to be. Give time to the things that really matter in your life, your craft, your family and yourself. Anything else, weigh the investment versus the return and go from there. It might not be “normal” but it’s required to reach the levels of success you want for yourself. Kobe was the first one in at practice and the last one out, he understood what giving time to his career meant. If you are going to be successful at anything in life, invest time.
Set Goals and execute them
When you set a goal, put a date to it. Specifically tell yourself when you’re going to have it done by. If you don’t have it done by then, evaluate the reason for not doing it. If you don’t have a good reason, set another date and push yourself harder to reach it. Do the same thing even if you have a good reason in the first place. The difference between those who “achieve” and those who don’t is the follow through. It’s the ability to set a goal and walk through the finish line. When we set goals without an actual plan to execute them they usually die as dreams. This in turn cause frustration because the end result is never achieved. Set goals, plan for them and execute.
Every decision is crucial
Every decision you make has an effect. What time you go to bed, how much time you spend reading or writing, how much time you spend with my friends, etc. Everything you do, every choice you make, ask yourself whether or not it is moving you closer towards your goal. Will this burger make you feel sick and will you waste an hour feeling groggy later? Yes? Ok, then don’t eat it. Is staying out late tonight going to keep you from waking up early to exercise? Ok, then don’t go out. Every single decision has to, in some way, be contributing to your growth. Are you perfect? Are you 100% consistent? No. But I’d say you’d be somewhere around 80-90%. And that percentage over a long period of time is insanely, profoundly, immeasurably valuable. Be mindful of the day to day decisions you make and see how they affect your plan overall.
Learn something from everyone
Kobe was obsessed with getting better he learned from everyone, even people outside the basketball universe. He studied the likes of Tom Brady and Novak Djokovic and was inspired so much by writer Paulo Coelho. The reason is simple, you do not know everything. Every single person you meet, try to learn something from them. Whether it’s a CEO of a major company or a random person next to you on the bus, I believe we all cross paths for a reason and there is a lesson everywhere you turn. By seeing life this way you are always open to the process. Every moment is an opportunity to grow. And the more moments you string together, the faster you learn, the more you grow, and better you become at everything you do. Strive to be a well rounded individual, you never know where your next inspiration will come from so stay ready.
Invest in skill, not in reward
Kobe was all about improvement. He could dribble, pass, he could dunk and he could defend. This didn’t come easy, he had to work on these skills at different levels of career so as to give us the whole package. We saw the end result, but never saw the large doses of sacrifice that went into learning and mastering these skills. I say this to point out the fact that he was not a prodigy, he was not a genius, he was NOT ANY MORE GIFTED THAN YOU. The only difference is that instead of spending Friday nights going to clubs and getting drunk, Saturday nights hanging out at bars, Sundays at brunch sipping mimosas, instead of being super social and mr. on-the-town, Kobe worked. He worked really hard. And it got to a point where it was no longer work, it was fun.
Rather learn a new skill than waste time. I’d rather socialise with people who I can learn from rather than having the same repetitive conversations with inebriated acquaintances. And it’s sad how this mentality is seen as “above” other people but that’s just part of the gig. People don’t like it when you get good at things. People want you to be lazy and average like them, level up! You only have one life to live.
Find your tribe
There are people out there who live life the way you want to live yours. There are people who want to learn more than they want to get rich. There are people who want to build something of their own more than they want to climb their way up the corporate ladder. There are people out there like you, you just have to find them. And once you do find them, become friends and help each other. Plan meet ups and exchange ideas, set new goals, and hold each other accountable. These sort of groups of peers are beyond valuable. They will help you remember what you’re working toward.
Kobe had Shaq with him, Jordan had Rodman, Steph has Draymond and Klay. Find your squad and make the journey worth it.
I cannot stress this one enough. Whatever it is you are looking for there is a book about it out there. Not only does reading expand your capacity to think but it is also relaxing. On average, high performing people read a book a week because reading has been scientifically proven to allow one to learn fast. So alternate between self development, How-To books, timeless fiction literature, books on spirituality and meditation, books on creative process, nonfiction memoirs, and books on marketing and advertising.
Expand your horizons by burying yourself in a book today. Kobe used to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo every year, find your power book here and start going.
Find a mentor
A mentor is someone who has excelled in the field you want to venture into or in life in general. The key to choosing a mentor is to find someone you can be vulnerable to. They need to be someone you can give everything. Throw everything you think you know out the window and allow yourself to be completely open to what they have to teach. Always work harder than they expect you to work. Ask a million questions and spend as much time around them as possible because this relationship is rare and valuable.
And also, it is OK to have more than one mentor in life because no one is master of all. I have had mentors teach me how to carry myself, how to dress, how to handle clients, how to pitch clients, how to explain my creative ideas, how to stand up for what I believe in, and how to be willing to pursue ideas that other people would call “impossible.” I have had mentors for almost every critical phase of my life and I cannot stress the importance of having these people around you who just want to see you win.
Love what you create
Kobe wasn’t in it for the money or the fame, those were a bonus. He was there because he loved basketball. In his own words from his book Mamba Mentality he says “…the tap, tap, tap of when a ball bounces on the hardwood. The crispness and clarity. The predictability. The sound of life and light. Those are some of the elements I loved about the ball, about the game. They were at the core and root of my process and craft…”
This kind of passion might be the most important differentiating factor in being a high achiever: Love it and love it a lot. I care about what I create, about the difference I make. I care about helping people, I care about helping others learn and grow. I love it so much, and as a result, I take things personally. I care if someone doesn’t like what I make. It doesn’t deter me from what I want to do, but I do care. And because I love it, I put my everything into what I do.
People that don’t love what they do, go nowhere. And do you know why most people don’t care? Because it’s hard. It leaves you vulnerable. It is a chink in the armour where people can point and aim and say, “Hah, you care.” Especially as a man, we’re told not to show emotion. And a lot of people don’t care about their craft out of fear that what they DO care about will make them look naive. What if other people don’t care about what you care about? How weird will you look then?
Listen, if you want to achieve, if you want to become successful—use whatever words you want—if you want to reach something that is slightly out of your grasp, you have to fall in love with it. You have to be obsessed with it and grow a huge appetite for it . You have to allow yourself to feel all those emotions: excitement, fear, ambition, vulnerability. And you have to use what you feel to propel you to create, create, create. Kobe would lose a game and cry on the floor, he would have put up the most points but the fact that the team lost would make him cry. That kind of passion is what the mamba mentality is about. Get in there and give it all you got.
There’s no better way to honour the black mamba and his mamba mentality than to level up and put in everything you got in achieving your dreams. The legacy continues, mamba maybe out but lets all go MAMBA IN!