I recently saw a clip of Kobe Bryant giving a speech to the San Diego Chargers. Watch it, It’s only 3 minutes long.
Near the end, A coach asks Kobe to walk him through how he stays in the now or the present moment. His answer is insightful.
A couple thoughts on Kobe’s response:
1) The first thing Kobe says is "it’s a process, it’s never perfect.” He doesn’t say, I did this one exercise and learned to be present. He doesn’t say, I worked really hard for a year and then I figured out how to lock in mentally.
No, Kobe embraces the mindset that the best players tend to have. That is, they never stop improving. As J.J. Redick put it, "You've never arrived, you're always becoming.” The best in the world are always learning, always growing.
2) When people say that Kobe is a master of his craft, I think Kobe would disagree. To say he is a master infers that he’s reached his peak. That he has no more room to grow. But Kobe never takes that perspective, he’s always trying to get better. No matter how much external success he has, he’s driven to improve.
Just like his legendary work ethic to improve his jumpshot and his footwork, Kobe takes the “always becoming” attitude toward his mental performance as well. He’s always working on being more focused and in the present moment.
3) “I’m always training, I’m always preparing, I’m always practicing for the game.” Many players make the mistake of isolating what happens in one part of life from what happens in another part of life. They imagine that what they do as a friend has no impact on them as a player. Or how they act as a student has no impact on how they act as a teammate.
But those delineations that we think exist between the different parts of our lives are false. What you do in your personal life will inevitably leak over into how you perform on the court.
This is why I like this video so much. It gives a tangible example of how your mundane, daily actions impact your performance. It’s not just on the court where you build your habits. You build your concentration, resiliency, optimism, emotional stability, etc. every minute of every day. In this way, like Kobe says, you’re always training. As Joshua Medcalf would say, “you’re always building your own house.”
4) Kobe ends the video by talking about making being present a habit. My longtime readers will know that I absolutely love habits. And what better way to build habits than to use all 16 hours that you’re awake? Why reserve your positive habit building for the 2 hours when you’re on the court? You have the opportunity to start building great mental habits at any time, so take advantage of it.
5) Kobe recognized that he could practice being locked in while he was in a boring geometry class. What’s your geometry class? How can you translate this principle to your own life?
My advice would be to choose one thing that you don’t like doing very much. It could be washing the dishes, it could be your homework. If you’re a coach it might be administrative meetings, or fundraising. Choose one task and treat it like practice. Treat it as an opportunity to work on your focus and your precision.
How you do anything is how you do everything.