Kobe Bryan’t death is a tragedy, but he has left us with a powerful lesson in how to achieve god-like focus.
I’m sure you’ve seen the news by now – Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash.
Now, at this point, I’m sure some keyboard hero is getting ready to pull me up and say, “Hey Jon, what about those other seven people who died in the crash. Where are your thoughts and prayers for them, you heartless prick?”
And to that I say, “Seriously, get stuffed.”
I don’t care about those people. Not really. I didn’t know them. It’d be pretentious to say that I did.
That’s not how fame works. I didn’t know Kobe Bryant personally either, but the man and the life he lived have meaning for me. His death, at just 41, with everything a man or woman could ever hope for, is, for me, profound.
And really, if you’re crying internet tears over seven people you didn’t know, and you don’t even know the name of, you’re a wanker. What about the ten-thousand or so people who also died on that day, in various tragedies around the world? Where are your internet tears for them?
No, you’re not crying internet tears for them because you’re a hypocrite. It’s just shallow virtue-signalling, to say that your compassion is greater than everyone else’s because you care about the other victims in the crash.
Take it somewhere else.
And now somebody else wants to take me to task for celebrating a sporting hero. What about the dead doctors, brain surgeons and human rights activists?
Again, unless you’ve posted on facebook about the death of at least one brain surgeon this year, you’re a hypocrite.
And we’re talking about Kobe Bryant here. This isn’t someone who just tossed a few balls around in his spare time. This is someone who climbed to the pinnacle of his profession, and stayed there for 20 years.
That’s not about talent, though he had that in spades. That’s about a phenomenal amount of commitment and hard work.
I wonder if people who haven’t played sport can really get that.
And sure, maybe there’s more worthwhile mountains to climb – charity, poetry, civil service etc.
But that misses the point. Kobe Bryant was a human who took himself on an incredible journey. The inspiration was in who he was and what he became, not in what he did per se.
But let me cut swiftly to what I really wanted to talk about: Kobe’s Black Mamba Mantra.
And what that teaches us.
After he learnt about the black mamba snake in the film, Kill Bill, Kobe decided to take the name on as his alter ego.
From that point on, when he was on the court, he was ‘The Black Mamba”.
But this wasn’t about puffing himself up. This was about survival. As he said:
“I had to separate myself. It felt like there were so many things coming at once. It was just becoming very, very confusing. I had to organize things. So I created the ‘Black Mamba.'”
I love this. The Black Mamba allowed him to leave everything behind as soon as he stepped onto the court. He didn’t have to worry about the bills, or how the kids were going at school, or any of the million things we all have to worry about.
(Note: The mind will find a million things to worry about, even if you’re as successful as Bryant.)
The Black Mamba was a work of mental discipline. It was an act of focus and concentration.
And I think a lot of what Bryant achieved in his incredible career can be put down to this superhero-level focus, and the mantra that made it possible.
And so I think there’s something in that for us. Are we focused enough? Are we committed enough? If not, do we maybe have to don the costume and become our own superhero?
So thanks Kobe Bryant. Thanks for the lessons.
And thanks for the reminder that no matter what you have or how much have you achieved, it can all be taken away from you in an instant.
His legacy is wide, but it includes this lesson too.