Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard of the devastating news of the passing of NBA champion ~ Kobe Bryant. I still find it hard to believe this has happened but I also want to respect that this is a sensitive time for his family, close friends and even fans and considering there’s so much media coverage over this time, I thought that the most important thing to take away from all this are some of the life lessons and the principles of Kobe Bryant.
As most of you will know, he was our basketball star with a formidable career… He was also an Investor; known as Black Mamba, he founded Mamba League to give hundreds of kids free access to sports as well as the Mamba academy which gives physical and lifestyle training in a number of sports. He was husband to Vanessa Bryant father to Gianna, Natalia, Bianka and Capri, brother to two sisters as well as a mentor to many across the world.
So, as we grieve with very heavy hearts, I think it’s befitting that we remember his legacy and these five life lessons he imbibed.
1: Education is the best deterrent to racism.
In one of his last interviews with CNN’s Andy Scholes at a Major League Soccer event in California before his passing, he was asked to talk about the racism scandals in European football seeing he grew up in Italy and was familiar with such occurrences in the sport. He responded with this “It’s always education and understanding that racism is a thing that’s been a part of our culture for a while. Even though now we’ve come such a long way but there’s still so much to be done and I think education is always the most important thing.”
The truth is that as people of colour specifically black people, racism and bigotry in all forms is an issue we will always confront. As much as I try to stand against injustice and bigotry, the truth of the matter is that some people will listen and some won’t. So I think the best deterrent to racism is excellence, specifically education for young black folks. There are people that will never like you for the color of your skin but one thing they will never take away from you is the knowledge you have in your brain through education. Knowledge is power and education is the key to success. When you are excelling and thriving, they can’t help but admire you. So I think it’s important for us, especially the younger folks to focus on excellence; excellence in school, excellence at work, excellence in your business. And I know some of you might be thinking ‘why do black people always have to bear the burden of overachieving just to be recognised or stand out? ‘. It is what it is. It is the painful truth and the headlines we see every day in the newspapers of despicable bigotry confirms that these people aren’t really listening to us. We have to unite together as a people and focus on our growth. Focus on investing and building our communities and one of the avenues to do so is through education – educating the youths.
2: In order to be the best at what you do, you’ll need an unmatched work ethic.
Many of us want the accouchements of success i.e the wealth, fame, luxury, power but we don’t want to bleed. We don’t want to pay the sacrifice. We don’t want to do the work. We are trying to constantly jump ahead of the process. We want it quick, we want the money quick, we want the influence quick but we haven’t really proved ourselves. We aren’t ready to spend years working and mastering our craft and showing up everyday, getting frustrated, dealing with defeats, rejections and still getting back up again. This is what the journey to success looks like. And one thing I always admired about Kobe was his unmatched work ethic, he put in the hours, he put in the work, he gave it his all. He mastered his game. He was persistent. And if you really want to live an accomplished life and most importantly leave a lasting legacy – you’re going to have to be willing to pay the price. Are you ready to do what it takes to get to the level you want you be at?
3: The only thing that counts after we live this earth is our legacy.
Have you noticed we aren’t reminiscing how much money Kobe had or how many shoes, clothes, cars, or even how popular he was? We are all talking about, touched and impacted by his legacy and that my friend is what counts. Your money is not following you to the grave and all these earthly possessions we hold dear. It’s your legacy that people will remember you for – how you made them feel, the advice you gave to them, the investment you made in their lives, the kind of husband, father, brother, sister, friend, mother you were. So as you go about your daily life, remember this – legacy. What do you want to be remembered for?
And while I’m on this point of legacy, life is fleeting as we can see. So, forgive those who have wronged you. Apologise to those you’ve wronged. Love hard. Appreciate those around you. Be nice to people. Go the extra mile to be nice to people even though they don’t return it back. Serve God – He is the Source and the Giver of Life as we can see. Live a wholesome life. You will make mistakes, there will be tough days, but always have the right attitude and perspective to things. Will this thing you are salty and grumbling about matter in even a year from now? Most likely not. So redirect your focus to things that will count like family, friends, impact, love, kindness – these are things people will appreciate and remember you for.
4: Give back.
I like to define success as after having done all and achieved all, you give back. You pour back and it doesn’t necessarily have to be always money – in fact, I think most times people shove the money for their conscience or just to be seen as ‘charitable’ and not to feel guilty after they’ve acquired a lot of wealth. But I think giving back goes beyond just the ‘money’ – it’s about your presence – being there, being in those communities, interacting with young people who grew up like you, pouring the knowledge and life lessons to people who didn’t get the chance you did, creating opportunities for people behind you and like I said before, ‘being present.’ Being available for someone to lean on, learn from and be encouraged by. And giving back could be little as your blog content or YouTube channel where you put out content that will help people in a particular aspect of their life. That’s all part of giving back. So, as you climb higher on the success ladder – however, you define success, remember the people coming behind you.
5: Another person’s achievement is not the absence of yours nor does it diminish your achievement.
Some of you may know this, that the day before Kobe passed on, his longtime friend – Lebron James surpassed his NBA record. What struck me was that Kobe’s last post on Instagram was him congratulating James on this achievement. When you talk about legacy – that is it! I want you to remember that there is room for all of us. The records we set are there to be broken by those behind us. And it doesn’t diminish what you have done. It doesn’t take away from all the hustle and effort you put in. Instead, it sets the bar for others. And as black women, if there ever was a time where we need to stop hating on each other and start being happy for each other’s success, is now and myself included. There is room for all of us. No industry can ever be “oversaturated” as long as you are staying true to yourself and displaying your unique talents and abilities. So, let’s unite, let’s support each other. Let’s be happy for each other and if this is something you are struggling with i.e jealousy, envy, resentment, one thing that worked for me was the ‘reverse effect’ i.e doing the opposite of what I was feeling. If I was feeling envious of one success, I would shower that person with love in the comment section on social media for example and let them know I really admired their success. Once you keep doing the ‘reverse opposite’, those negative feelings go down the drain. Where love is, hate can’t survive.
I also want to remember his beautiful daughter, Gianna who passed on alongside her dad. May her soul rest in perfect peace as well as the souls of other victims of the crash. My heart also goes out to the families of the victims grieving at this time.