You prepared me on November 29, 2015 in your eloquent farewell letter to the game of basketball in The Players’ Tribune. While I knew this day would come, the reality has set in that tonight April 13, 2016 you will suit up one last time in the royal purple and gold and play out your final act at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
This article is not about who is the greatest basketball player of all time, which player was more clutch throughout their career, nor which player would win in their prime form. Your basketball accolades and IQ of the game both speak for themselves.
This article is about paying homage to an individual with immense authenticity and a profound desire to exhaust every finite niche of their potential. It is about a person who was obsessed with greatness and allergic to mediocrity. It is a tale about what can transpire in one’s life when you relentlessly invest the time, energy as well as consistent focus and Zen like discipline into your craft. It is about overcoming setbacks and silencing the outside opinions of others; while celebrating and living in your true essence and following your greatest aspirations.
At the age of 8 I became transfixed to the television screen as you played, studying your every move, then striving to emulate them during TV and timeout breaks inside the house using a laundry hamper as the hoop and a rolled up pair of socks as the ball. As time progressed and I began thinking about career routes for myself, my interest gravitated towards the business side of the sports entertainment industry as well as being of service to humanity. I began to study you in a different manner.
Still in awe of the unbelievable shots, dunks, assists and incredible performances I began to focus on your intrinsic qualities and leadership traits. As I reflect on your career and accomplishments, the following are five life lessons that can be applied to business that have profoundly transformed the trajectory of my personal and professional development:
Master Your Craft
Through your work ethic, focus, consistency and discipline you taught me what it meant to get the most out of my innate talents and to utilize my potential to its fullest ability. You taught me the importance of being a life learner and to continue nurturing my genuine creative and intellectual curiosity. You made me reflect on how I was using my time and if I was getting the absolute most out of my 86,400 seconds each day. You inspired and showed me that the mastery in any field does not transpire overnight, that it is a long transformative journey and process, not merely a destination.
Own Your Greatness
Watching how you approached the game with such grit, will power, and competitive tenacity taught me while it is imperative to have a support system of individuals in your corner who will motivate and support you; greatness starts within. You taught me in order to seize and live out my goals, I must keep myself accountable of my own greatness. That greatness was a choice; it was a mindset, a changing of lifestyle that required immense sacrifice. You taught me to own my greatness and to soar in my truth.
As I battled with a speech impediment issue, obesity and being bullied as an adolescent, you taught me that the challenges and adversity I might face in life is what makes the journey beautiful. It is about controlling what is in my power, putting in the work to get better not bitter and growing from what might seem like a disappointing occurrence or setback in the moment. You taught me there is a lesson in all experiences, to never give up, and to always progress forward when hitting a bump in the road.
Seize the Opportunity
From one stellar performance to another you taught me about the power of performing at my best when my best was needed. And my very best was needed everyday. You gracefully displayed how to stay cool, calm and collected in the most pressured situations. You showed me that it was in the meticulous preparation and repetition, usually in isolation far away from the bright lights, cameras and screaming crowds that put you in position to consistently seize the moments on the biggest stages.
Find Your Passion
Throughout your entire career, you exemplified to me what it meant to be deeply in love with your craft. You taught me there is nothing wrong with taking the road less traveled and following my calling in life as long as I remained true to my core values and essence. You taught me the world was my canvas and playground and to paint the life I envision and to play freely without any limitations. You taught me to silence the inner voice of any fear or self-doubt, and to find a passion and cause that brought great joy and happiness.
Your legacy spans beyond an arena’s hardwood floor. You have transcended the culture of sports and entertainment in this world and the way the fan engages with and discusses the game of basketball. So thank you Black Mamba for allowing me into your safe haven. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made in order to entertain the masses and myself. Thank you Black Mamba for allowing me to witness you at your most vulnerable and fragile moments. Thank you for challenging the status quo and showing me that greatness begins at the moment one becomes comfortable with the uncomfortable. And thank you Kobe, for simply being the best version of yourself for 20 years.
The late great Maya Angelou once asserted “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Your presence has had a profound impact on my 24 years of life, which will never have the capability to be equated to any stat box score. So thank you Kobe, I will forever cherish the memories and celebrate your greatness. Your giving to the game of basketball all of your mind, body, spirit and soul, shaped who I am today and inspired me to dream big while trusting the timing of my life and journey.
May you and your beautiful family, continue to find prosperity, peace, love, wellness and positivity in this next endeavor of your life as well as in storytelling. Until our next share, keep soaring, inspiring and empowering. Immense Respect Kobe! Salute to you Black Mamba…