A few months ago, Kobe Bryant released his book, The Mamba Mentality. I've always admired his work ethic that led to his numerous accomplishments, so I was eager to dive into the text. 

During Bryant's famed 20-year basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers, he racked up five NBA championships, two NBA finals MVP awards, and two Olympic gold medals. He's also the third-highest all-time career regular season scorer for the league.

The lessons Bryant laid out in his book are gold for entrepreneurs who want to build a legacy of greatness in their work. Here are five important lessons from Kobe's Mamba Mentality every business leader should adopt.

1. Obsession is not-optional.

Jeff Bezos often muses about how customer obsession has been key to Amazon's growth. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston talks about how critical it is to be obsessed with solving a problem that matters to you. And Kobe Bryant wrote about how his obsession with both winning and dominating, fueled him:

"If you want to be great in a particular area, 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." 

You've got to be obsessed too, if you want to build a business that has a lasting impact. It's best when your obsession over is directly linked to your company's core mission. 

2. Missed shots are necessary.

Far too many business leaders stifle their growth and potential because they let fear stand in the way of taking actions that haven't been 100 percent proven to deliver results. Talk to any transformational leader, and they'll tell you that failure is something you'll need to get comfortable with if you want to be great. Bryant is no different:

"If I wanted to implement something new into my game, I'd see it and try incorporating it immediately. I wasn't scared of missing, looking bad, or being embarrassed. That's because I always kept the end result, the long game, in my mind. I always focused on the fact that I had to try something to get it, and once I got it, I'd have another tool in my arsenal. If the price was a lot of work and a few missed shots, I was OK with that."

Feel your fear, but don't ever let it stop you from seizing opportunities.

3. Methodically eliminate your holes.

Kobe Bryant focused relentlessly on mastering every aspect of basketball. He meticulously focused on even the smallest of details, because he knew the compound effort of small improvements would allow him to dominate no matter the circumstances.

He noted, "I built my game to have no holes."

You are the architect of your business. With time and a clear plan of action, you can eliminate any weak points that diminish the experience you deliver to your customers.

4. Explore creative ways to make gains.

To become great, you can't follow the same blueprint everyone else does. There will be times where you'll have to chart your own path to stand out. That includes the way you train. 

Bryant proactively sought out an untraditional path after a repeat ankle injury:

"After researching the matter, it became apparent that tap dancing was going to be the best way to build up my ankle strength while simultaneously improving my foot speed and rhythm. So I hired an instructor and started going to the studio. I worked on it all of that summer and benefited for the rest of my career."

Embrace experimenting with uncommon approaches to prepare you to produce extraordinary results.

5. Smart leaders customize.

You won't achieve greatness on your own. You need a rock star team working alongside you to accomplish big goals. But it's not just about assembling top talent. You've got to enables the team to perform at their best both individually and collectively.

Bryant explains how he did it:

"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."

Everyone wins when you customize your leadership style to fit the team you have.

Greatness isn't reserved only for the naturally talented. Kobe Bryant's work ethic and mentality prove anyone can achieve greatness, as long as you're willing to work for it.

Published on: Dec 13, 2018
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