6 Important Lessons I Learned From Kobe Bryant | Entrepreneur (2024)

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On Sunday, January 26th, Hall-of-Fame basketball player and iconic leader Kobe Bryant died at 41. The tragic helicopter crash that took his and eight other lives shows just how fragile life really is — one moment we're here, and the next we're gone. Here are six valuable lessons I've learned from him over the years:

1. Relentless work ethic

Kobe was famous for his relentless work ethic and his intolerance of those who did not share it. He once said, "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."

He was always willing to put in the hours because he didn't want to get beat by the competition and never made excuses. He played a game left-handed when an injured shoulder kept him from shooting with his right. He played a game with a 102-degree fever and famously stayed in the game to make his free throws after tearing his Achilles.

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 is sleeping, you start pulling away from the pack.

2. Becoming obsessive

Kobe didn't just invest his time and sweat into basketball — he dedicated himself in every way to becoming one of the best. "If you want to be great in a particular area," he once said, "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."

There was no hiding Kobe's deep love for basketball, and that's exactly the mentality you must have if you want to become the best in your niche. Embrace your passion, your obsession, and use it to reach heights others can't.

Fall in love with the process of what you do. If you're only in it for the money, fame or accolades, you're not going to make it very far.

3. Leaders create leaders

"I liked challenging people and making them uncomfortable," Kobe once said. "That's what leads to introspection and that's what leads to improvement. You could say I dared people to be their best selves."

On the court, Kobe was a powerful-if-controversial leader for his team. He always aggressively pushed his teammates to be their best, and while some have called Kobe a bully, the former Laker explained his strategy in his book, Mamba Mentality: "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. Embracing new skills

One of the questions Kobe often asked himself after retiring in 2016 was, "What do I enjoy doing?" When he found the answer — storytelling — he pushed and founded multimedia production company Granity Studios.

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.

Kobe said then, "I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters and leadership in order to inspire the next generation."

5. The Mamba Mindset

At 13 years old, Kobe decided he was going to be one of the best basketball players who ever played. Everything else had to be pushed to the side.

In an interview, Kobe says he was inspired by great players like Michael Jordan and Magic Jordan. He'd watch their amazing feats and ask himself, "Can I get to that level?"

His answer: "I don't know, but let's find out."

He believed that if others could do something, then he could too. When you follow in the footsteps of successful people, you can get similar or even better results. Whether you're building a business, becoming a great athlete, learning a new skill or adopting a new habit, modeling your actions and habits after someone who's already successful saves you the most time and money in the long run.

6. How to handle pressure

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.

When Kobe was just 18 years old, he attempted a shot in the final seconds of an important playoff game against the Utah Jazz. He took the shot with confidence but instead of making the game-winning basket, he shot an airball. The Lakers eventually lost in overtime.

But, that apparent failure became a turning point for Kobe, who would spend the entire off-season working on his shot "until the sun came up." Kobe didn't consider himself a failure, even though he failed. Instead, he used that moment as feedback to work on what he needed to improve. He once said, "Everything negative — pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise," and he used that mentality to rebound from an early setback.

Kobe went on to make 36 game-winning shots in his 20-year career. His last game-winning shot (in the final game he ever played) came against the Utah Jazz. Even under heavy pressure, Kobe wasn't afraid to rise to the occasion.

6 Important Lessons I Learned From Kobe Bryant | Entrepreneur (2024)


What lessons can we learn from Kobe? ›

Relentless work ethic

Kobe was famous for his relentless work ethic and his intolerance of those who did not share it. He once said, "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."

Why is Kobe Bryant important to us? ›

Kobe's model of excellence was also reflected in everything he touched, and that applies to the Lakers and the NBA as a whole. Even in retirement, Kobe Bryant's name meant hard work and inspiration to many people. That became part of American culture.

What did Kobe Bryant do to change the world? ›

Bryant made many charitable donations, including in support of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Kobe continued to be an all-star, even off the court, until his tragic death on January 26, 2020.

How did Kobe Bryant inspire others? ›

Showing Up Beyond the Home Court

Kobe influenced children beyond his own, including writing a series of children's books like “Legacy and the Queen and “Legacy and the Double.” Kobe said he wrote the books to inspire children (including his own!) to work hard and believe in themselves.

Why is it important to remember Kobe Bryant? ›

His determination, integrity, and athleticism made him a true leader in black history. In his 41 years, he achieved so much personally and professionally. Kobe's journey represented hope, demonstrated overcoming, and displayed family legacy in a way we don't often see from someone like him.

What is Kobe Bryant most remembered for? ›

Kobe Bryant (born August 23, 1978, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died January 26, 2020, Calabasas, California) was an American professional basketball player, who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) to five championships (2000–02 and 2009–10).

Why was Kobe Bryant important for kids? ›

“As one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Kobe's spotlight was brighter than almost anyone's, and he used it to help millions of kids. For 12 years he was an ambassador for After-School All-Stars, and he used his time and his resources to inspire our 90,000 kids and help build opportunities for them.

Why is Kobe Bryant a good role model? ›

Kobe Bryant always wanted to get better. He wanted to be the best he could in every aspect of his life that he could be. After his playing days he would take college courses on various different subjects. You see, Bryant saw the value in a college education; it was a part of his life he could improve.

What was Kobe well known for? ›

Bryant became one of the NBA's most popular players and the face of the Lakers during his career. Winning a record four NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, he was the overall league MVP in 2008, a two-time NBA scoring champion and 12 All-Defensive selections.

Why was Kobe Bryant a hero? ›

Because of Bryant,NBA players are getting their achievement. Kobe Bryant impacted NBA through the achievements and speeches. His work in the NBA completed lots of rewards. Kobe Bryant was an important person in history because of his Achievements,Career,Challenges/Overcoming Obstacles.

What is Kobe Bryant's legacy? ›

Bryant's legacy lives on with the Los Angeles Lakers, with the NBA and WNBA (both leagues have awards in honor of him), with Nike and with the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation.

What is the most important thing is to inspire Kobe? ›

"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do."

What is the importance of Kobe Japan? ›

Kōbe's port has long been one of the most important in Japan; in the early 1970s it was combined administratively with that of Ōsaka. In addition to its prominence in shipping, Kōbe is preeminent among Japanese cities in shipbuilding and steel production.

How to use mamba mentality in life? ›

Maintain a commitment to hard work and excellence.

Kobe had a laser-like focus on his commitment to excellence. His work ethic was unmatched by his peers and he refused to be complacent in his career. “Without studying, preparation, and practice, you're leaving the outcome to fate.

What does having the mamba mentality mean? ›

"The Mamba Mentality simply means trying to be the best version of yourself. That's what the mentality means. Everyday you're trying to become better." -... | By FitOps FoundationFacebook.

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