Kobe Bryant was a legendary basketball player. His size, athleticism, and skill set him apart from ninety-nine percent of all other players on the planet. Yet, what made him truly special wasn’t a physical gift or talent he developed. It was his mentality.
Kobe’s mentality was so well-known and well-respected that it was tagged with its own name: The Mamba Mentality. The name is as unique as Kobe’s view of competition.
Take, for example, his take on whether he loves to win or hates to lose more.
Kobe’s response: neither. He went on to explain that he believed an extreme in either direction was a weakness. Rather, he preferred to view every competition simply as an opportunity to learn. He wanted to know his own areas that were strengths or needed work. Every competition was nothing more than an experiment.
His curiosity and want for growth superseded his desire for a specific outcome.
Can you acknowledge how rare that is for anyone, let alone a hugely successful professional athlete that is compensated, and celebrated, almost exclusively because of those same outcomes?
Why Should We Care?
It is this mentality to prioritize growth over outcome that fosters one of Kobe’s more poignant claims - that failure doesn’t exist. At first, the claim seems to be nothing more than semantics or a flippant, ridiculous comment to garner attention. Then he explains.
“Seriously, what does failure mean? It doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of your imagination … The point is the story continues. If you fail on Monday the only way that’s a failure is if you choose to not progress from that. So, to me, that’s why failure’s not existent. If I fail today then I’m gonna learn something from that failure and I’m going to try again on Tuesday. And, if I fail, I'm gonna try again on Wednesday. It doesn’t exist.”
It’s a powerful framework that robs failure of the fear it showers most people in. Knowing the story continues is reassuring and empowering. It evokes the courage to press the edges of our abilities and exit our comfort zones with no fear. Free of the need for the desired outcome, Kobe released himself to become the ultimate version of himself.
Here’s the thing: Success doesn’t exist either.
Just like failure, it’s a figment of our imaginations. And, from my experiences, buying into the reality of success is just as dangerous as that of failure. While the perception of success can breed success, it can also foster contentment and entitlement. Both of which are debilitating to our future production.
Removing the concept of success from our mindset shines a brighter light on our process. It allows us to focus on becoming rather than arriving. The success we think we experience is nothing more than a part of the next process.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
In addition to a heightened focus on the process, eliminating the concepts of success and failure ultimately lead to acceptance. From acceptance we have the power to guide our lives in the best ways we see fit. Here are a few ideas on eliminating success and failure from your mindset.
Although we like to label experiences, and sometimes people, as successes or failures, the truth is they are neither. The experiences are all part of the process and the people simply becoming.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com.
We would love to know how we could help!
I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.