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Kobe's Self Awareness Set Him Free. Ours Can Too.

Yesterday, January 26, a day I'm normally so happy about due to birthdays of friends and family, will also probably always remind me of Kobe Bryant. I'll always remember where I was when I saw the news from Tom Brady's Instagram that Kobe passed and I will always reflect that on that morning I was watching several interviews he gave before I was jolted into reality. Kobe was one of the ultimate motivators.

Sometimes we remember more about athletes and figures than we do about our own families because we don't always get to spend as much time with our families or have our best and worst moments captured on camera to relive. Kobe and the Lakers were one of my reasons in high school and through college, to work hard on the job or for class, so that I could finish on time to catch whatever game was happening that night.

I wasn't a Kobe fan in the sense of I needed all the memorabilia (though I did have a select few things in my room and books about him) but as usual I was obsessed with how he thought and how he used his thoughts to get what he wanted.

So for 2021 Kobe remembrance day, I"m reflected on how self-aware he was and how I've learned over the years that knowing thyself better than anyone else knows you is one of the greatest weapons against your challenges that you can have. Here's a few of my favorite thoughts by Kobe and why I believe that it is helpful that we each clarify our desires and personalities in order to bend the universe in the direction of our dreams:

Mark J. Terrill | AP

"Once I made the that commitment [to be an all-time great] and said, 'I want to be one of the greatest ever', then the game became everything to me." -- Kobe Bryant

Question: Do we commit?

It is okay to have multiple interests or division of attention but do we drop things and never pick them back up again or do we follow through to their completion? When we finally make it to the position that we want, do we still continue to work on elevation and getting better? Are we satisfied with one championship, one successful year, simply making it down the aisle or becoming a parent?

Or do we push to champion multiple competitors, capitalize on the first successful year, keep the marriage fresh over and over, and ensure stability and inspiration in our children? Do we confuse commitment for simply signing up for the job? Do we want to truly test the limits of our productivity and imagination or do we just want to be okay with the bare minimum and be pissed off when it isn't enough?

One thing doesn't need to be our master but we should certainly work to master the one or two things that make us want to greet the day every day.

Robert Hanashiro | USA Today

"I'm reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose." -- Kobe Bryant.

Question: Are we able to convict ourselves?

Do we wait for other people to point out our shortcomings or can we face them head on, knowing they are a problem, and take action to soften the blow? Can we stand up for ourselves and determine whether what we do or who we are with is in alignment with what we say is our "purpose" or our "goal" or "who we are"?

In his short life, Kobe had much to reflect on and redefine, as most of us do. He has publicly had to take hard looks at himself when it came to his mistakes within his marriage, mistakes made on the court, aging in a physical career field, life with injury, and do forth. During all those times, though, we never saw Kobe disappear and never come back.

There are people who over-reflect. They focus their energy on things or people in the past that do nothing to benefit their present or future. What I love about the above quote is that reflection is only being done to the point that it is selective and useful. Sometimes we rob ourselves of time better spent by basing our actions or plans around people who hurt us or things that were unfair, when we should be replaying those things to figure out how to make them never happen again or to get better at seeing them coming.

We need to reflect on the things that rub us wrong and the things that we know are flaws... but also know when nothing needs to change. Part of having self-confidence and self-awareness is about knowing when not to pivot... more on that later.


"I created my own path. It was straight and narrow. I looked at it this way: you were either in my way or out of it." -- Kobe Bryant

Question: How often do we rely on other people's input to make a choice?

Speaking of pivots... distractions are everywhere! Sometimes it's a person, a job, a financial hardship, a living situation, and so forth. Challenges will always be both behind us and in front of us. We each have something different within that is a surefire way to navigate through those challenges in order to be a little bit smarter about the next one.

People often get lost because they are constantly trying to do things someone else's way instead of designing their own when it comes to their definition of success. An example: "Everybody is on social media" doesn't mean that everyone has social skills. Plus everybody isn't on social media. Most people with means are on social media.. but everybody isn't on social media.

There is still more value in personal connections, developed talents, and measurable skills. There is still more power in walking in a room and commanding it. People will always attempt to make others fit into their own sphere of "what's hot" or "what's desired" and so forth. If we are on our own path and staying focused on our own long-term plans, then we have no time or need for other people's superficial quirks.