In an interview with the New York Times alongside Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington, Kobe Bryant revealed some of the secrets to his success.
1. Learn From People Outside of Your Arena
So first off, how in the hell does Kobe Bryant know Arianna Huffington?
“I’m known for sending out cold emails. I love learning from people who take on giants and slay them. I wanted to know how Arianna did what she did, and why.”
Touche. You may not know it by watching him sometimes, but Michael Jordan isn’t the only individual who’s influenced his game (both seemingly on and off the court).
“No matter what industry you look at, people who do phenomenal things, there’s a common thread to them. I’ve always been curious about that, as a way to become a better basketball player.”
So he learns from other people … and animals.
… When you watch me shoot my fadeaway jumper, you’ll notice my leg is always extended. I had problems making that shot in the past. It’s tough. So one day I’m watching the Discovery Channel and see a cheetah hunting. When the cheetah runs, its tail always gives it balance, even if it’s cutting a sharp angle. And that’s when I was like: My leg could be the tail, right?… Inspiration surrounds us.”
2. Its About the Journey First
For Bryant, it’s not just about the championship rings themselves. There’s a process to winning, and falling in love with that process first ensured that the rings came after.
“…My heroes growing up, the Jordans, the Bill Russells, the Magic Johnsons, they all won multiple times. I wanted more. But it wasn’t just the result. It was the journey to get there…I love the process. The result comes later.”
3. Don’t Let Others Define Who You Are
Like his greatest ex-teammate Shaquille O’Neal, who was also an actor, philosopher (the “Big Aristotle”), rapper (“Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes) and a police officer, among other things he was horrific at, Bryant isn’t hewn in by what he’s supposed to be. Still, no more music, Kobe, please.
“What hurts a lot of people, particularly famous people, is they start valuing themselves for “what” they are, the way the world sees them: writer, speaker, basketball player. And you start believing that what you are is who you are. There’s a big difference.”
Kobe used to be one of those people who bragged about how little sleep they needed a night.
“…I’ve grown. I used to get by on three or four hours a night. I have a hard time shutting off my brain. But I’ve evolved. I’m up to six to eight hours now.”
So what made him give up the no-sleep asshattery?
“Growing up and understanding the importance of shutting down and unwinding.”
5. Care About the People You Work With
At one time, Bryant was a ball-hog and an abrasive teammate. Now he’s just a ball-hog.
“Oh, God. I was barking orders left and right. And these grown men are looking at me, like “Who the hell are you?” But I had studied the game so much. As I got older, I started understanding it’s not just about the game. People carry emotions with them. They have lives off the court. That helped me communicate better.”
6. Tackle Your Problems in Smaller Pieces
Like every successful person, Kobe’s also had his fair share of problems. He faced a sexual assault allegation in 2003 that brought on him a criminal investigation, the wrath of fans and the bright lights of a hungry media. All of it could have combined to derail his career, but he focused on handling one piece at a time.
“In 2003, I was going through the Colorado situation, and it was very tough. I had to ask myself what I wanted to accomplish. I want to keep my family together. Have to focus on that. I’m a good basketball player: I want more championships. Focus on that. Every endorsement I had, they dropped me. Every marketing person said, “You can’t be fixed.” So I start chopping the problem into smaller pieces, and I focus on them. What else are you going to do?”