Last weekend I was at dinner with a few friends when the question was asked to me, “What is Mamba Mentality to you?” I was shocked that I had to contemplate the words that I was going to use to describe it. If you are in the world of athletics, you know what the Mamba Mentality is. You know who Kobe Bryant is. You know of his work ethic. You know his mentality. You just know. However, to put it in to words and describe exactly what it means to someone outside of the athletic world is a little harder that it seems.
Many people may think that it is the mentality that Kobe had in games. The do whatever it takes to get the win attitude. That is only a small part of it. That isn’t where it starts. That mentality starts with wanting to be great, if not the greatest. In Kobe’s case, he wanted to be the greatest. He decided since he was going to be the greatest, he had to perfect the talent that he already had. Kobe spent time outside of the normal practice hours to get better. He worked out in the morning from 5-7 AM, and that was when he was in high school. Once he got to the NBA, Kobe began a routine of morning workouts before practice and stayed after practice for several hours to simply get better and hone in on his skills. Everyday Kobe Bryant was the first and last person to leave the gym. He was always working to get better. When he broke his right hand during the 1999-2000 season, Bryant didn’t let that be an excuse for him not to workout. He still came in early to workout, dribbling and shooting with his left hand. It proved to be helpful down the road when he injured his right shoulder during a game. He finished the game doing everything with his left, including shooting two jump shots.
The Mamba Mentality started with his work ethic in his workouts and carried over into games. Because he had put in countless hours in the gym prior to the competition, he believed he could do whatever he needed to do to get the win. If the game came down to the last shot, he wanted the ball in his hands because he believed he gave his team the best chance to win the game. Not because he had played well the previous 30+ minutes in the game, but because of the countless hours he spent in the gym when no one was watching. It should also be noted that Kobe didn’t hit all of his game winning/tying shots. In fact, he was 36/115 (31.3%). However, he has the most made game winning shots in NBA history. He never let one loss keep him from winning in the end. This article is a list of examples of how exemplary his work ethic was.
That same mentality is what was propelling him in his “retired” life. Anything he was doing or putting his name behind, he was going to do it the best possible way, giving it all he had. That is why he won an Oscar for his short film Dear Basketball. According to an interview Bryant did with the Amazon Book Review, “Mamba mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most. It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit. It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes — and even non-athletes — embrace as a mindset.”
That’s right. Even if you have never picked up a basketball a day in your life, you can take on the Mamba Mentality. Focus on the fundamentals of your craft. Start with a solid foundation to build up for those big moments. And here is another secret for you. Are you ready? It is going to take A LOT OF HARD WORK. You can’t shy away from it. There will be days when you don't finish first. That cannot stop you from doing the work to win in the end. You have to be ready to put in the work. Countless hours that no one is going to see. The hard work that you may not get credit for when you want it.
After his passing, I started thinking more about his Mamba Mentality and how I could apply it to my career change. I hadn’t been so excited about something in so long as I was when I decided to become a motivational speaker. However, I was stuck in a rut with getting a few things done. The drive to do the little things wasn’t as strong as it used to be when I was coaching. Then Sunday January 26 happened. I decided if I wanted to be great, which I do, I needed to put in those hours that no one will see and not everyone will understand. I challenge you to do the same thing. Look at your life right now. What would change for you if you took on some of that Mamba Mentality? What would you gain from it? What would your family be able to do if you went all in and put in the work to be the best? How will it change your future? Embrace it.