The Mamba Mentality
A powerful lesson from Kobe Bryant
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The Mamba Mentality
Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest athletes of all time.
In 2016, we got to see why.
Bryant gave a speech at an awards show.
He used the moment to address all athletes.
“We’re not on this stage just because of talent or ability,” Bryant said.
“We’re up here because of 4 am.
“We’re up here because of two-a-days or five-a-days.
“We’re up here because we had a dream and let nothing stand in our way.”
It was the Mamba Mentality on full display.
There’s a powerful lesson embedded in Bryant’s message.
No matter how talented you are, you can’t cheat the work.
Bryant was an obsessive athlete.
He’d workout at 4am
He’d train 3x as much (or more) as others
He had a ruthlessly competitive mindset
He’s the perfect example of what happens when elite talent and work ethic come together.
The lesson here isn’t to be Kobe Bryant.
You don’t need to wake up at 3am (sleep is good)
You don’t need to constantly train (over-training is real)
You don’t need to be ruthlessly competitive (there’s a dark side)
But whatever your craft, you can’t cheat the work.
There’s a process to becoming great (at anything).
It requires time, intention and discipline.
It demands an unreasonable commitment.
It’s not for the lukewarm or the faint-hearted.
There’s no shortcut to the highest mountains.
So, what does it mean to “not cheat the work?”
And how do you ensure you don’t?
Here are a few thoughts on that:
1. Choices > feelings
Alabama football coach Nick Saban talks about feelings vs. choices.
Most people make too many decisions by how they feel.
Do I feel like making calls?
Do I feel like working out?
Do I feel like studying?
High-performing people prioritize choices over feelings.
They don’t do what they “feel” like doing.
They choose to do what they know will move them closer to their goals.
Not cheating the work begins with a choice.
You make the choice of doing what it takes to become great, and you make that choice every day.
2. Eat off the floor
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart — a Saban protege — has won back-to-back national championships at UGA.
He knows the Bulldogs’ biggest opponent in 2023 won’t be another team.
It will be entitlement.
That’s why when his team has success, he pulls out a favorite mantra: “We eat off the floor.”
The message is simple and powerful.
We stay hungry
We stay humble
We can always improve
We’re never above the work
We’re never entitled to success
Human nature assumes success will continue, but that’s not the case.
Everything must be earned, all the time.
Once you make the choice to do the work required to be successful, you must have the humility to know nothing is ever owed or guaranteed.
3. The Infection of Success
Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden had a different way of talking about entitlement.
He called it “The Infection of Success.”
Once an individual or a team tastes success, it’s human nature to want more of the fruits that come with it.
Nothing is wrong with those things, per se.
Problems arise, however, when those desires supersede the desire for the process is took to achieve success in the first place.
Enjoy what comes with success, but never forget the price paid to get there (and the even higher price to stay there).
4. The Way of Discipline
Author, podcaster and former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink is known for being extremely disciplined.
In his book Discipline Equals Freedom, he outlines why it is the root of all success, both personal and professional.
Discipline drives daily execution.
It’s what overcomes laziness and lethargy.
It’s how we become stronger, faster, smarter, healthier, better.
You can commit to the process of success and have the humility to know it never ends, but without discipline you won’t consistently execute it.
Willpower is good when it’s strong and worthless when it’s not.
Build the muscle of discipline around the things that matter most to you.
5. The Pentagon of Peak Performance
So, you want to build discipline.
But what are the areas in life where you need it?
Former SEAL Jason Redman has a framework I love called the Pentagon of Peak Performance.
The Pentagon of Peak Performance has five key areas:
If you want to be your best, you must nurture all five components.
Read Issue 27 for more on how to get started.
If you take nothing else away from this issue, take this lesson from Kobe Bryant:
No matter how good you are.
No matter how talented you are.
No matter how much you’ve achieved.
You can’t cheat the work.
In sports, in business, in life.
I’ve been binge listening to The Fort podcast with Chris Powers lately, and it’s fantastic.
Chris is the founder of Fort Capital, a real estate private equity company in Texas, and a great guy.
If you enjoy smart conversations on business, entrepreneurship and real estate, check out The Fort podcast.
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See you next Sunday.