There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. But more importantly, he has taught millions of people around the world timeless and invaluable life lessons that will stick with us forever. Not only did he show an incessant commitment to self-improvement, but he also pushed those around him to become their best selves, which is something we can all learn from in today’s digital age. Tragedy has a mystical way of imparting wisdom and enlightenment, so let’s look back on 10 of Mamba’s most inspiring maxims that we, on the SBP team, are dedicated to keeping alive for generations to come.
1. Show up early, be the last to leave.
Success doesn’t come without serious effort. Former Lakers player and head coach Byron Scott said he once found 18-year-old Kobe shooting hoops in the dark two hours before practice and muttered to himself, “this kid is gonna be great.” And, naturally, he was. Put in the work to see the results you want.
2. Motivate others to be better.
Kobe was an undeniable frontman on the Lakers, but he was as committed to helping others achieve their goals as he was his own. He famously said, “They all have things they want to accomplish. And as a leader, you’re like, ‘Okay, what are those things and how can I help them accomplish that within the system and structure that we are trying to do collectively?” Simply put, teams can’t function in silos.
3. Squeeze out every last drop.
If we’ve learned anything from this tragedy, it’s that you need to get the most out of every little thing you do because we’re not always guaranteed a tomorrow. As Kobe once said, “To think of me as a person that’s overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could.” You never want to look back and wish you did more.
4. Believe in yourself.
Mamba always said that you’ll get nowhere in life if you lack confidence and trust in your own capabilities. Because, as he beautifully phrased it, “if you don’t believe in yourself, no one will do it for you.” So stop putting yourself down. Be your own hero.
5. Sacrifice anything but compromise nothing.
When it comes to growth, it’s absolutely okay (and oftentimes critical) to be selfish. In order to achieve your goals, you must first define your own path then adhere to it without wavering—no matter what others tell you. As Kobe proclaimed, “Be willing to sacrifice anything, but compromise nothing in your quest to be your best.”
6. Endure and conquer.
Turn your adversity into an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Because, simply put, “the moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win.” Kobe wasn’t a quitter, and neither are you. We don’t cower, we don’t run. As Mamba said, “We endure and conquer.”
7. Look on the bright side.
In the same vein as Kobe’s lesson to endure, it’s crucial to find the positives in the negatives. The light in the dark. We have to approach every misfortune with optimism. According to him, “everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
8. Go the extra mile.
With Kobe’s steel-like mindset, you have to go the extra mile in order to come out on top. You can’t half-ass anything. But, whatever you do, don’t lose your modesty. Whether it was “sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate or hitting the game-winning shot,” Kobe did whatever he could to achieve collective success.
9. Learn to love discomfort.
You can’t grow without growing pains, right? Kobe taught us that self-improvement doesn’t come without a healthy dose of discomfort. You have to challenge and push yourself, as well as those around you. “If you are going to be a leader, you’re not going to please everybody,” Kobe said. “You got to hold people accountable, even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable.”
10. Never stop learning.
This one really hits home for the SBP team. We’re constantly striving to learn and better ourselves, both independently and together, but no one has put this hunger for knowledge more poetically than Mamba. “Everything I saw, heard, read or felt was viewed through the lens of growing as a basketball player,” Kobe once said. “This perspective makes me curious about everything, makes everything interesting, and means that life is a living library where all I need to do is pay attention.”
So let’s listen. Let’s observe. Let’s challenge ourselves, as well as others, to become the best we can be. Because if Kobe were here? He’d be doing just that. Define your goals and follow through. Work hard but love harder. And at the end of the day? Don’t forget to hug your friends and family.