Kobe Bean Bryant: basketball player, published author, academy award winner, father of 4 – I could go on.
The world lost a truly talented individual on 26th January 2020 as Kobe and 8 others lost their lives in a helicopter crash in California. I’d grown up watching Kobe on a basketball court in the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers. He always provided fantastic entertainment, whether he was scoring 60 points in a game, berating his teammates or feuding with Shaquille O’Neal; he was box office through and through. However, I don’t remember Kobe primarily for his exploits on or around the basketball court. I remember him for something which extended his greatness away from the NBA and led to success in other disparate aspects of his life: Mamba Mentality.
Kobe gave himself the nickname of ‘the Mamba’ and subsequently created ‘Mamba Mentality’ to describe his elite mind-set and how he achieved excellence in everything he took on. This innate drive to excel is hugely applicable within sport but can be taken and used across all walks of life.
He wrote an entire book around this and I take the following three points as to what Mamba Mentality means in terms of consulting.
Be the best version of yourself, all day, every day
Kobe was all about practicing and training harder than anyone else. Not a day went by when he wasn’t drenched in sweat by 5am and on game days he famously made sure to make 500 shots before kick-off.
There isn’t always an environment that allows for practice with such a direct feedback mechanism within consulting, but to be the best version of yourself you must stretch and challenge yourself to be better today than you were yesterday.
Ask for feedback, critically appraise your own performance, don’t settle and push the boundaries of what you can achieve with your clients, internally and personally.
If something is worth doing, then learn how to do it
Kobe wanted to learn to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano as a surprise for his wife. A colleague suggested that he just pay someone to teach him the piano, but he replied: ‘it won’t mean as much if I don’t put the time into doing it myself’. He subsequently spent hours listening to Moonlight Sonata on repeat, and eventually was able to play the song. He was quoted as saying “If you just sit down and say, ‘I’m going to learn this thing until I do’, there’s not really much out there that you can’t figure out eventually.”
As a consultant, sometimes it can be easier to delegate or outsource certain tasks – focusing predominately on what you are already good at. However, if you’re willing to get your hands dirty and continually learn then it’ll help your personal development and your reputation within your team.
Take care of the future
The Mamba League was setup by Kobe in LA following his retirement from basketball. It consists of 40 co-ed teams with the motto of the league being ‘Play, Learn, Grow’. Kobe was keen to give opportunity to the next generation of basketball players; to help them grow as people as well as athletes.
One of the things I’ve always loved about consulting is the opportunity to help those around me improve – whether that is individually or as a team; with our consultants or with our clients. If we strive to be the best versions of ourselves, we should help others to be the best versions of themselves by giving our time, patience and guidance wherever we are able.
Kobe has had some challenges throughout his career, but I don’t believe that his mentality and drive can be questioned. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he stated:
It’s truly tragic that Kobe and 8 other lives’ were cut short in January 2020; however, Mamba Mentality will live on and it may well prove to be his true legacy.