Grieve with Mamba Mentality
Even in our darkest times, we should strive to search out light. Kobe’s and Gigi’s passing has sent a shockwave through the world, and for us Millennials, one of our very own trailblazers and heros has gone on to eternal greatness.
Scrolling social media, I decided to pay a moment of respect to @kobebryant’s page on IG, and, admittedly I had to do a double take, as I was unsure if this was truly the profile of the basketball legend. No initial mention of his basketball greatness upon first glance in the bio. Writer. Producer. Investor. PROFOUND.
You see, Kobe’s greatness had transcended the initial means by which he had become the sports icon. His had swerved and switched into all different types of lanes and most importantly, ones in which furthered the growth of those around him. He had plenty of business talking and growing BUSINESS!
As we sit here today in our grief, it’s ok to feel it. And to allow the pain to jolt us into the reality of what life truly is. God giveth and He taketh away. In our faith walks, it’s important to understand that life isn’t just about the moments when we tingle with euphoria, but also that of balance – times when we beg for mercy and the end to our pain.
As a woman, I can speak to the enduring pain of losing a loved one as well as the literal pain of birthing the gift of life into the world. Without pain we know no pleasure. Frederick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle [pain], there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
These words are unilaterally evident in the themes in Kobe Bryant’s life. Our celebrated heroes undergo some of the toughest times, as they too fall from grace and experience trauma. Those, like Kobe, use their mental fortitude to channel the pain and use it as fuel for fighting through.
The Black Mamba
He shared in interviews and it’s explained in an article on Heavy.com that during his darkest times, he created the alter-ego the “Black Mamba” as his on-the-court version of himself, coined for a snake in the movie “Kill Bill” known for its agility and aggressiveness. And though his sidelines self was wounded, he played through the pain and confusion of his personal life and stayed laser focused. He ultimately returned triumphant winning multiple NBA Championships and a host of other accolades throughout his basketball career.
He was a human with relentless dedication. Discipline. Sticktoitiveness. The dogged perseverance in his actions and attention to detail in his practice and play are attributed to his greatness on the court. Naturally these same characteristics translated to his success in the his next stage of his career as a creator. Kobe created and embodied Mamba Mentality, which simply means, as stated by Bryant, “is to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself.”
Ask Kobe grew from a player and into a businessman, creator, and coach, his Mamba Mentality spilled over into his craft. He discusses in his book, The Mamba Mentality, his leadership style and how he motivates those around him to always give the most and to be their best.
Coach Kobe Says
I can imagine that being a part of a team with someone like Kobe Bryant can be somewhat intimidating, even if you are a star in your own right. But what I can appreciate from Kobe, and maybe some couldn’t, was his constant striving for greatness and pushing for better. Kobe was known to challenge his teammates to step out of their comfort zone, and it’s been proven to work to their advantage in securing their spot at the top of the championship list.
Kobe’s musings on leadership and coaching: “I liked challenging people and making them uncomfortable. That’s what leads to introspection and that’s what leads to improvement. You could say I dared people to be their best selves.
That approach never wavered. What I did adjust, though, was how I varied my approach from player to player. I still challenged everyone and made them uncomfortable, I just did it in a way that was tailored to them. To learn what would work and for who, I started doing homework and watched how they behaved. I learned their histories and listened to what their goals were. I learned what made them feel secure and where their greatest doubts lay. Once I understood them, I could help bring the best out of them by touching the right nerve at the right time.”
Light in the Darkness
As I noted earlier, it’s never too soon to search for the light in the darkest of times. Kobe and Gigi’s passings will be met with grief, but also, I suggest, digest this moment as Kobe would have, with the Mamba Mentality. Yes! For the Bryants, we will indeed grieve with The Mamba Mentality.
We will consciously choose to focus on his legacy and dwell in the thoughts and insights one of our greatest achievers.
“Everything negative — pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.”
“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”
“Dedication sees dreams come true.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.”
“Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.”