Kobe Bryant was not my favorite player. Probably wasn't yours, either. Still, everyone knows he was one of the greatest.
Kobe created tremendous amounts of success for his team and also earned numerous personal records and awards. He built his career on the foundation of perseverance, grit, and skill. Which are all traits entrepreneurs should work to develop.
If put into a business context, Kobe's on-court success is like Mark Zuckerberg's or Elon Musk's. He is not a Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates -- that would be Michael Jordan. Still, as one of the greatest of all time, the way he approached the game has never been equaled.
Last night, his two jersey numbers, No. 8 and No. 24, were retired by his team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Most of the time, an athlete's accomplishments stay on the court. Yet, Kobe's legacy reaches far beyond the hardwood.
Here are three lessons Kobe's career gifted to the business world:
1. Stay loyal and consistent.
Kobe always performed. He never took a night off.
Additionally, he stayed a Laker for his entire career. Not many athletes play for only one team, let alone for 20 years. Bryant focused on making his situation the best it could possibly be. His mental stamina and control allowed him to push through the hard times to create the life he wanted.
He didn't jump ship when the situation got hard or wasn't perfect. He did what he had to do to make it better for years. This shows extreme perseverance.
If you take that same level of loyalty and apply it to your craft, to your teams, to your clients, you will also create success.
2. Practice more and train harder than anyone else.
Kobe would train longer and with more attention to detail than anyone else. Shaq even commented that Kobe practiced all his moves without a ball, for hours, visualizing and physically doing the work.
The stories about his dedication are legendary. The kinds of tales that Gary V would be proud of.
Stories of how he was always soaked in sweat by 5 a.m. Every. Single. Day. Even after he was an All-Star, NBA champion, and an Olympian.
Stories of how, throughout his career, he never let anyone beat him into the gym and definitely never let anyone leave after him.
Stories of how, on game days, he always made sure to have 800 makes before tip-off.
Kobe did the work--his work ethic was insane. Your passion and energy always shine through. If you want something, you will do the work.
3. Your mental and emotional toughness is the final ingredient.
Kobe took control of every situation. Even when it wasn't his fault, his problem, or his to control in the first place. He made sure to not just take action, but to also mentally own the result of everything. If the game was on the line, he wanted to shoot. He always guarded the other team's best player. He never passed the responsibility to others if he could carry the load.
When asked how he approached obstacles, Kobe said: "Everything negative -- pressure, challenges -- is an opportunity for me to rise."
If all entrepreneurs would accept this level of responsibility for their performance, there would be more unicorns out there. Entrepreneurs rise and fall on the basis of their mental fortitude, their ability to not let outside influences affect their inner belief.
Kobe was driven by his personal desire to be the best and to win.
Kobe said: "I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot."
If you want to win as bad as Kobe did, you will stay consistent, you will work hard, and you will develop your mental toughness. In short, when you want to win you will find a way to succeed because your mindset and your actions won't allow anything else.