RIP Kobe Bryant. The man who inspired me to be so much of who I am today. I'm actually going to break down all the biggest lessons I learned being obsessed with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers as a kid.
He just passed away today and I have to work and make videos, but I don't want to make my normal ones. So I can promise you whether you're just stumbling on this because you're a Kobe fan or you're stumbling on this because you already subscribed to my channel that this'll be emotional and still inspiring and meaningful.
These are all things I learned about basketball, that I've applied in my life to live the life of my dreams and to have success and happiness I never imagined that I could have simply by watching this guy every single night of my life for 15 years. I would pretend that I was him when I was in the driveway every day. His nickname was black Mamba. And when I was a kid, my brother nicknamed me white mamba. Let's dive right in.
The first lesson that I learned from Kobe was to dive for every loose ball. When I was a kid, I passed my junior English class in high school by writing a persuasive essay on why Kobe Bryant was better in LeBron James. LeBron James is a far better athlete than Kobe Bryant was. Lebron stood, six foot nine, six foot 10, 265 pounds, and basically never had been hurt his entire career. He was just like the most God given specimen you can be. Obviously Lebron works extremely hard to to take full advantage of that. But he was a far better athlete in General.
Same with Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan could dunk from the free throw line. Michael Jordan was shorter than Kobe but could reach higher than Kobe, he had bigger hands than Kobe. These people were more physically gifted than Kobe was, but here's the thing about the him. He was so psychotic about being the best that he could possibly be, that he would do the same move move 5000 times in a row. He did this in a world where people get paid $30 million to play basketball and they most of them can't even make 60% of their free throws.
A lot of them can't make 50% and they get paid $30 million to stand about 10 feet from the basket with no one guarding them and make it, and they can't do it. It speaks volumes for how little they pay attention to detail. That's all it is. Kobe wasn't the best athlete, but he would do the same move 5,000 times a row inpractice with no one watching him at full game speed.
So when I say he taught me to dive for every loose ball in life, what I mean by that is is this. I was 19 years old and I dropped out of college. I was a first team, all San Diego basketball player. I went to a division three school to play basketball and I realized, dude, I'm not going to the NBA and I didn't want to be in school. So I dropped out on the spot and I backpacked around the world. I wrote a self published book called Into The Wind about my travels around the world and the inspirational lesson messages within it.
I wrote that when I was 20 and every single publishing company said no to me. My family thought I was insane. My friends thought I was insane. Every single person told me it was a bad idea. I wouldn't be successful.
I'm too young. You don't know how to write, which I didn't. I told you earlier, I passed junior year english class. I had to finish an independent study where you sit in a room by yourself with a bunch of other kids that are just as crazy as you and there's really no teacher and you do your own assignments. So that was what I did. So realistically, yeah, they were right. It probably was far fetched and not a good idea to become an author, especially because 95% of books don't sell 2,500 copies. Writing my book seemed like I was diving for a loose ball.
I wasn't the best basketball player either. A lot of people could jump higher than me, run faster than me. They were stronger than me. But I, I think I cared more than everybody else. And that's why there was, I was first email San Diego. Southern California is one of the best division one leagues. It's one of the best areas in America for basketball, and there was people that were all San Diego, second team and third team that didn't make first team that were way better athletes than me.
But watching Kobe Bryant every single night, I learned to care more than them. And I said, look, if it's true that no one's going to publish my book and that this won't work and I'm not that smart, well then fine... I could look in the mirror and say, there's a lot people more smart than me, but I'm going to care more than them.
I'm going to dive for every loose ball. I'm going to do every single thing in life that nobody wants to do. I'm going to sit here and write this book when my neck hurts. I thought no one's going to publish it so I'm going to sell the books out of the trunk of my car, which is what I did. I printed 5,000 copies and I sold them at farmer's markets. I rented tables at college campuses and I stopped students on the way to class. I was 21 and I did that for years and I sold 10,000 books out of the trunk of my car and that led to me getting a book contract with a number one publishing company in the world, Penguin Random House.
My YouTube channel, I did the same thing. I published a video pretty much every single day for three years. I have over a thousand videos on this channel. There are way more people waste, way better writers than me, way smarter than me, way more credentials than me, but I watched Kobe Bryant every single night for my entire life and I saw him dive for every ball. I saw him care more than every other player.
I saw him do moves that literally look like a robot should be doing them. And the reason he was able to do them is because he did them so many times over and over. If you dive for every loose ball in your life, you will beat the person who is smarter than you. They might be more gifted than you. They might be more talented than you. They might've went to a better college, they might have more money, they might have more connections, they might have the right mentors and the right coaches and the right teachers.
They may have the right network, they may have better charisma, they may be better looking, they may be in better shape, they may have more physically gifted attributes than you. But if you dive for every loose ball in life, literally every loose ball in life, you can be anybody that you want to be. I learned that from the black Mamba.
The second thing I learned from you is that free throws were about focus. I watch basketball every night, Ashley and I, it's what we do together. And my biggest pet peeve is watching professional athletes get paid five, 10 20, 30, $40 million, and they can't make a wide open shot from eight feet away with no one guarding them. They get to do a routine, they get to stand there for 10 seconds and they can't make them.
There are people making $20 million that can't do a simple job. If you get paid $20 million and you miss a free throw and your team loses the game, then you don't take your job seriously. You just don't. Even LeBron James who I love, shoots 67% from the free throw line. That's it. You're filming too many movies. You should not be shooting 67% from the free throw line. You get paid $40 million in a bunch of side money. Stay in there and make your free throws.
Kobe Bryant would shoot thousands of made free throws. Here's the difference. Most people will shoot free throws, but they won't count the mades. He would stay there until he made them. It's about focus. That's what free throws are about. You can go on YouTube and find grandpas that are 95 years old, shooting 100 free throws in a row. There's viral videos of it.
It doesn't have anything to do with physical ability. All it has to do with is focus. Now if you draw that same parallel in life, there's a lot of people that do YouTube that could be successful on YouTube, but they start and stop all the time because they aren't focused. They can't get their work done efficiently enough. They can only publish one video a week so they never get enough content out to scale. And you can draw this parallel for everything. There are people that went to Harvard. There are people from the wealthiest families in the world. There are people with a bunch of money. There are people that have all the right resources. They have the right mentors, they have the right teachers, but they're lazy and they will not be as successful as they could be.
And when they're on their death bed, they will look back at their life and regret it because they knew there was still more gas in the tank. You liken it to a generator to the governors on the cars. You know, the governor's on the car's factory are meant to top out at a certain speed. Let's say you've got a Lexus and it tops out at a 140 mph. So that's not really how fast the car goes. It's a governor put on the car. Most of us spend our whole lives with a governor on our potential in our minds and our focus, and we only tap about 40 to 50% of our real potential. We tell ourselves stupid excuses and then we believe those excuses and we justify our lack of focus because of it. I can't focus, I can't concentrate. I said that every day of my life until I dropped out of college and I realized there was going to be no safety net.
I was prescribed Adderall. I was prescribed Ritalin, I had ADHD or that's what the doctors told me. I couldn't focus, I couldn't concentrate. Now I have a multimillion dollar business and I'm published with the number one English publishing company in the world, penguin random house. I didn't go to Harvard. I don't even really know how to write. The only reason my books are even read well is because I had good editors. You have to be able to focus. You have to be able to finish the books you read and sit at the computer long enough to get your work done even if your neck hurts.
You have to be able to sit there and read through the book. You have to finish the books you read. The average CEO reads 52 books per year. You say, okay, I'm going to start studying money or whatever. I'm going to start studying my chosen craft or skill or topic, and then you read four chapters and you put the book on the shelf and you buy another book and you don't finish it because you get distracted by Instagram or Facebook or what someone else says. Or you need to go out on Friday night and you don't focus. Life's like free throws. You can have everything that you want. You can be anything that you want in life, but you have to be able to focus.
What are your free throws that you're missing? Free throws are easy points. The clock stops in the game. You're standing there a few feet from the line. They're easy baskets. What are the easy baskets and the low hanging fruit in life you're not focusing on is that that your morning routine is all scattered. You know what you should do what you ought to do, but you don't do it. What are those things? Life is easy and hard at the same time because what's easy to do is easy not to do.
It's easy to make free throws. It's easy to spend that extra hour doing cold calls. It's easy to stay up an hour later than your competition and wake up two hours early. It just takes three weeks of getting in the rhythm of waking up at 4:00 AM and your body will be used to it. Those things are easy, but they're also easy not to do. Make a list of one or two of the easy things, the free throws, the layups that you're missing that you should be making. Life is about focus, not about all the things and all the noise outside of your mind.
Next, Kobe showed me that no material objects or outer success in life could fulfill you. I loved watching you after you retired. Most famous people, when they retire from their profession, they try to stay in the spotlight. You moved away from the spotlight and you didn't really go to very many Lakers games and it bothered a lot of Lakers fans.
You said, look it's super far away with LA traffic and I have five daughters and I want to be there for my kids because I was never there for them for 20 years. I was obsessed with my profession and I gave my profession all I had. You showed me that at the end of the day, the most important thing isn't success. It's not your goal. The Most important thing is to have family, is to have friends, is to have people that you know you've truly loved and you've given attention to. And that is something that is important for me now that I'm freshly married and going to be starting a family pretty soon. It's something all of us should consider.
Next, you taught me that if you gave your life your all, you would never regret it. They say that the number one regret most people have is "I wish I would've lived a life true to myself". Most people do not live a life true to themselves because they half-ass their own life and they end up at their deathbed regretting it. I wish I would have done more. I wish I would have done this. I wish I would have done this. That's how most people live. Your goal,, Kobe Bryant's goal...I'm saying "your" because I'm talking to Kobe. Your goal was to get eight NBA championships, two more than Michael Jordan.
You finished with five, you failed at your goal, but you really didn't fail because you gave the sport your all. You tore your Achilles and made two free throws right after you tore it. You were notoriously the hardest working professional athlete of your generation and when you're interviewed, before you passed away, they asked you if you had any regrets about not getting eight ships. And you said, no, I literally could not give this sport any more than I possibly gave it and I have to live with those results because there are some things that are just quite frankly out of my control. I literally gave the sport my everything and I want to live that same way, I want to give my life my everything. I want to give my business my everything. I want to give my family my everything.
I want to give my health, my everything. I want to give it my everything. So when I'm 90, looking back, I can say I literally gave my life everything that I had and the fulfillment comes from there.
Last but not least, you taught me to quit making excuses and to use pain to motivate me. When Kobe tore his Achilles and they needed to win the game to make the playoffs. With a torn Achilles, with his Achilles rolled up into his calf, he stood up on one leg and swish both of the free throws in a world where people get paid $30 million, totally healthy and they can't make one free throw. He did that. He in the middle of the game, dislocated his finger, walked over to the bench, they snapped it right back into place and he continued playing 20 seconds later without even leaving the game for a moment.
When you broke your wrist you learned how to shoot lefty and actually started using your left shots when you weren't open. What this is telling us is that there are no excuses and that you can be great. You can have your life that you want, you can achieve the things that you want and you may think you have certain limitations but if you want to find out what you're really capable of, you have to be able to look in the mirror and say, I'm going to figure this out. You aren't limited by resources, you're only limited by resourcefulness.
So that concludes today's message. If you know someone who is a Kobe fan, please feel free to send this their way. As the legend himself said. Mamba out.
Miracles are normal.
Jake Ducey is a two-time published author with Penguin/Random-House (The Purpose Principles and Profit From Happiness), a leading speaker for his generation having been featured in TEDx Youth, hired by mega organizations such as Nielsen and Accenture, and a leader who has already inspired countless thousands of young people to seek meaningful career success and to make a difference in the world.