The new decade did not start well and to cap off the horror month that was January 2020 one of the most beloved (sports) heroes of our time, Kobe Bryant, passed away. Amongst the victims of the tragic helicopter accident were also his 13 year old daughter Gianna as well as six other passengers and the pilot who also should not be forgotten: John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan (pilot).
We do focus on Kobe Bryant here though as he was the person in the spotlight. For more than 20 years. We all know his story, even if you’re not a basketball fan. Jumped into the NBA right from high-school, skipping college, to see if he could hang with the big guys. And hang he could.
In the beginning he was famous for his athleticism but he learned rather quickly that this wasn’t all he needed to succeed. While he had all the talent in the world, he wasn’t alone with that. Other talented players such as the great Michael Jordan showed him rather fast that you need more than talent to succeed. And that is where Kobe then excelled.
He didn’t stay the person he was when he came into the league. He worked on himself, he improved, he adapted, he changed. He needed to do what was necessary to stay ahead of the game. For 20 years.
He had a great run where he won 3 championships with the LA Lakers. He had a great partner in Shaquille O’Neal though what many people considered to be ‘luck for Kobe’. After Shaq left the team, Kobe had to prove that he could win without Shaq and, once more, reinvented himself. That’s what he came to call ‘Mamba Mentality’. Not giving up, not letting outside circumstances define you, but actually making the best out of the situation that you are in.
This all now might sound like something a motivational speaker would say but we can very well say that this all also applies to the business world. It becomes even clearer when looking at what Kobe Bryant achieved after he retired from Basketball. He left what defined him for 20 years behind and started new careers. Founding a Basketball Academy, becoming an investor, and, most surprisingly, a storyteller that saw him win an Oscar (and, most importantly for Kobe himself, becoming the best father he could possibly be).
Kobe Bryant showed us how important it is to not just focus on the here and now – even while having success – but on the ‘what comes next’ and tirelessly working on improving yourself. Not only as a person, but also as a business.
Who would have thought that a professional athlete who is supposed to be only good at playing ball would end up funding start-ups, making smart investments, supporting kids, and winning an Oscar?
So no matter how well your business is going, if you’re struggling, or winning at the moment, it is as crucial as ever to keep reinventing yourself and, as Kobe puts it, to touch the lives of as many people as possible, to be remembered as one of the greatest to ever do it. In life, and in business.
To quote LeBron James: Mamba out, but not forgotten.