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Kobe Bryant, who died tragically in January 26th, 2020, was one of the greatest basket ballers of all times. His passion, love and dedication for the game of basketball were evident by the way he played. Fondly called the black mamba a catch phrase that he coined explains that mindset that he had towards his career and life.

His book, The Mamba Mentality gives you and I a glimpse into his professional life, his philosophy and routines that made him successful. The points mentioned below are supported by direct quotations from this book.

Hereunder are 10 great lessons from the life and career of Kobe Bryant that made him successful:-

Fearlessness

Kobe was never afraid to try something new. If he recognized that there was a new skill or new move that he will like to master, he started learning it. He was did not fear failure or embarrassment.

Kobe recalled:

“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 or 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 got another tool in my arsenal. If the price was a lot of work and a few missed shots, I was OK with that.” (pg.12)

Innovativeness

Kobe placed lots of attention to the details when it came to the design of his signature sneakers. Peak performance of his sneakers was paramount. Kobe was hands on when it came to the weight, distribution, materials, cut, traction and durability of his shoes.

In 2008, he decided that the Kobe IV would be his first low-cut shoe. He faced initial resistance but Nike’s founder Phil Knight supported his decision.

Kobe explained:

“The Kobe IV changed the game. I remember having to go in the front of Foot Looker and pitch them on the Kobe IV, because they weren’t sure how to sell it.

It was past time for the change, though. The fallacy of a high top was that players believed it protected your ankles. In actually, it weakens them and saps mobility.” (pg.35)

Self-Awareness

Kobe was willing to complete regular self-assessment to identify his weaknesses and work on them. His game was largely defined by the mamba mentality that he adopted. He not only focused on training his body but also his mind.

Bryant defined mamba mentality as:-

“The mindset isn’t about seeking a result- it’s more about the process of getting to that result. It’s about the journey and the approach.” (pg.41)

Believed In The Power Of Mentorship

Kobe believed in mentorship. He film studied great athletes of the game and other individuals who have achieved massive success who have gone before him to learn and develop at his game.

His autobiography outlined some of his mentors who were great basketball legends such as Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Bryon Scott. He also greatly admired Muhammad Ali.

Attention To Detail

Kobe improved his game by conducting film study, a practice which he began at a young age.

He described film study as:

“The biggest element that changed overtime, however, was I went from watching for what was missing and should have been there. I went from watching what happened to what could have and should have happened.

Film study eventually became imagining alternatives, counters, options in addition to the finite details of why some actions work and others don’t work.” (pg.14)

Avid Reader

Kobe valued reading. He spent time reading the autobiographies of persons who he admired. In addition, he spent time reading the referee’s handbook to understand the rules.

As a result, he knew where the dead zones were on the court. These were the areas where the referee could not see on the court.

Kobe stated:

“I learned where those zones were, and I took advantage of them. I would get away with holds, travels, and all sorts of minor violations simply because I took the time to understand the officials’ limitations.” (pg.30)

Consistency

Kobe described his workouts as biblical. He began lifting weights at 17 and did so whether he was in season or it was off season. He lifted for 90 minutes every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

In his autobiography, Kobe stated:-

“Over the years, my routine might have changed some but my philosophy never did. If something has worked for other greats before you and if something is working for you why change it up and embrace some new fad? Stick with what works, even if it’s unpopular. (pg.13)

Asked Lots of Questions

Kobe loved to ask lots of questions about basketball. He would ask coaches, colleagues and legends their perspective on various aspects of the game.

There were some individuals that admired his passion and curiosity while others were not so kind and gracious.

However, Kobe’s perspective was:-

“Some people, meanwhile, were less understanding and gracious. That was fine with me. My approach always was that I’d rather risk embarrassment now than be embarrassed later, when I’ve won zero titles.” (pg.17)

Mental Preparation

Preparation varied based on the headspace required for the specific game. Kobe relied on music to help him get in gear before the game and changed the genre of music accordingly.

Kobe indicated:-

“The key though is being aware of how you’re feeling and how you need to be feeling. It starts with awareness.” (pg.15)

Hardwork

Kobe was a hard worker. His routine was grueling which involved him working early in the morning and late in the nights.

It generally involved training, lifting, hooping and film study. He kept this routine whether he was in season and off season. He described his routine as tiring and took catnaps on many occasions if needed for a bust of new energy.

Kobe stated:-

“Sometimes, as part of that, I’d be so tired I’d need a quick nap at some point during the day. Whether before practice or a Finals game, on the trainer’s table, five hours, before tip or 60 minutes, if I was tired I would doze off.” (pg.17)

There are several other articles on this website that details the life stories of many successful leaders. Feel free to click on any of the links below to explore:-

8 Greatest Life Lessons From 8 Successful Leaders
Phil Knight: 13 Powerful Lessons From His Career and Life Story
Monica Lewinsky: 8 Impactful Lessons From Her Career and Life Story
Lee Iacocca: 15 Practical Lessons From His Career and Life Story
Malcolm X: 5 Significant Lessons From His Life Story
21 Lessons From The Life of Nelson Mandela
18 Lessons From The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Final Thoughts

Kobe Bryant’s autobiography, The Mamba Mentality is a short but riveting read which details traits that you and I can benefit from to improve our professional and personal lives. This book is a good read for college students, athletes, emerging and seasoned professionals.

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10 Great Lessons From The Life and Career of Kobe Bryant

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