You may be asking, what do business leadership, small business success, and Kobe Bryant have in common? As my father used to say, a helluva lot. I must admit that I love the mamba or vino as he is amazingly getting better with age. Who does that? I've been a fan of the mamba since seeing him go for 42 at Eastern High School in a Gym Rats all-start game before his senior year. Then I saw him single-handedly beat Chester in the state tournament at The Palestra. He and DaJuan Wagner were the two best high school players I ever saw play at that level. So, although we normally talk about working capital solutions, I want to discuss leadership and success today.
But I digress. If you know Kobe as the mamba then you need to get to know him as vino. He's getting better with age like wine. Have you seen what the Lakers have dealt with this year? A coach was fired, then Dr. Buss' son and daughter disagreed on the new coach, they've had drama with their prize big man Dwight Howard, Steve Nash has been hurt, Pau Gasol is out now, etc. Who knows what has gone on behind the scenes that the media hasn't reported on. At the All-Star break the Lakers were several spots out of the playoff race.
Now the latest incident is Kobe's sprained ankle. But in all of this he is showing his leadership. He's much more diplomatic than ever before. He defended Jim Buss' decision to bring in D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson. He's been a spokesman for the Laker organization and shown the desire to continue the legacy of Dr. Buss. He's elevated his game to levels no one could have imagined for a 34 year old who has been in the NBA since he was 18. Perhaps the best of all his performances was at Dallas after Mark Cuban suggested that the Lakers should cut Bryant because of how much they would save under the NBA's new amnesty clause. Kobe went for 38, 12, and 7 in a victory over the Mavs and tweeted on his @KobeBryant twitter account "Amnesty THAT". Classic.
Is he displaying leadersship? Of course he is. Does he understand something about success? Absolutely. But what does this have to do with small business success? Playing sports is different so how does Kobe have anything to do with business leadership?
The reason he's still playing at a high level this late in his career is that he's hungry. He has an insatiable desire to win. There is a determination that still keeps him up at night. Kobe has not tried using his cruise control because the minute you let up and take your foot off the gas it's just a matter of time before the pack catches up and surpasses you. Here's what he had to say about it, "I have a determination where I don't think anybody I line up against, on any given night, will be able to out-will me. I just refuse to believe that."
Additionally, here's what he said when asked about his legacy: "Ultimately, I want to be known as a person who was just hell-bent on winning. If people say that about me, I'll be happy."
If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner who is starting, building, or growing your business then there's a lot to learn by looking at the career and life of one of basketballs all-time greats, Kobe Bryant. He developed and grew over time. He was and is a leader of his team and he leads with the goal of getting the most out of his team so they can perform at the highest level. He is determined. When surprises and controversy comes, which it inevitably does in business and in life, he becomes a curve-ball hitter and deals with it. Have you lost any of your determination? How hungry are you now? What are you waking up at night thinking about and what are taking action toward in order to fix those problems?
Much of the inspiration, as well as some quotes, for this blog came from Jay Mariotti's article on espn.com, Kobe Bryant Shining in Leading Role.