Kobe Bryant was physically gifted, but his incredible success — in a number of fields — came from much more than talent alone.
Most people believe they work incredibly hard. Most people claim they go the extra mile. Most peple say they’re willing to pay the price for achievement (in whatever way they choose to define success.
Ask any of us. We’ll say we put in the work.
Kobe truly put in the work.
Here’s Kobe from Kobe Bryant’s Muse (a documentary produced by Mamba Media, the production company he founded):
There’s a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be great at something there’s a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft.
But you have to make a choice.
What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with your friends… there are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.
That’s why, instead of going to college after high school, he jumped straight to the NBA.
I want to learn how to become the best basketball player in the world. If I’m going to learn that, I’ve got to learn from the best. Kids go to school to be doctors, lawyers… that’s the place for them study.
My place to study is from the best.
For Kobe, success was a choice. Success was a matter of consequences: Of making hard decisions, and then acting on those decisions.
I knew that I was not going to be stopped… you can’t possibly become better than me, because you’re not spending the time on it that I do.
Even if you want to spend the time on it, you can’t, because you have other things. You have other responsibilities taking you away from it. So I already won.
Initially, that level of dedication and sacrifice didn’t pay off. Kobe’s playing time was limited; at times he only played a few minutes per game for several games at a stretch.
(But) I wasn’t getting the opportunity to show it.
One of the things I used to do is get in my car and drive around the campus of UCLA. I’d see kids hanging out in fraternity houses, just walking around… I just wanted to feel that. I’d even wonder, ‘Did I make the wrong choice? Did I f— up?
I could be going to college and laughing and hanging out with these kids, having a good time… but no, here I am.
He realized what he was missing. He recognized the consequences of the choice he had made. He didn’t necessarily like it… but he stood behind it.
Because success — in the way he chose to define success — was more important.
If we say, ‘This cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done,’ then we are shortchanging ourselves.
You make a choice, that come hell or high water, I’m going to be this… then you should not be surprised when you are that.
… because you had seen this moment for so long, had played it in your mind for so long… of course it’s here, because it’s been here (in your mind) the whole time.
Pick one thing you want to be. Pick one thing you want to do.
Decide you’ll work relentlessly to achieve that one thing. Create a plan for how you’ll train. Practice. Evaluate. Refine. Decide you’ll be be ruthlessly self-critical: Not in a masochistic way, but in a way that ensure you continue to push and grow and develop.
Then figure out where you’ll “study.” The people you will learn from. The people you will surround yourself with. Determine how you can learn from the best. (Remember, you don’t need coaches; you need pros.)
Then decide what you will give up in order to place that level of focus into accomplishing what you’ve decided to achieve, since while you can have a lot, you can’t have everything.
That doesn’t mean giving up, say, time with family or friends. That doesn’t mean giving up things genuinely important to you. But it will require giving up the things that aren’t as important as what you hope to achieve. (If you’re unwilling, that means your goal isn’t really that important to you.)
Then build a routine that puts your plan into action, because goals without action aren’t goals. They’re just dreams.
Wishing and hoping won’t get you there. Sticking to your routine will — especially when you ruthlessly measure your progress, fix what doesn’t work, and refine and repeat what does work.
When you work hard, every day, to be better than you were yesterday… success is almost guaranteed. You won’t be surprised when you accomplish what you set out to achieve since, like Kobe said, “…it’s been here (in your mind), the whole time.”
Don’t just say you try. Don’t just try.
Try harder than everyone else.
You’ll be glad you did.
Because that’s when you’ll achieve the success you really want.