Kobe Bryant's secret to success that has nothing to do with talent

What I learned

Failure of ineptitude is painful but avoidable.

The Checklist Manifesto is one of my favorite books. The author, Atul Gawande, teaches about 2 types of failure: “Failures of ignorance we can forgive. If the knowledge of the best thing to do in a given situation does not exist, we are happy to have people simply make their best effort. But if the knowledge exists and is not applied correctly, it is difficult not to be infuriated.”

Both documentation to follow and people to apprentice can be critical tools for overcoming failure of ineptitude. This is why my favorite advice to students is to find someone to learn from and do anything you can to watch them work. It gives you support to not just know how to do something but to understand how things actually work.

Thanks to my friend, Ryan Jenkins, for reminding me of this concept earlier this week.


This week I finished listening to the book Relentless by Tim Grover, the guy who helped Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and other top basketball all-stars get to the top and stay there. While I didn’t appreciate the vulgarity throughout the book, the mental attitude he teaches is incredible.

Tim’s advice centers on 1. the mindset that you can and 2. the choice to sacrifice whatever it takes to get what you want. Incredible that some of the best in the world still work harder than anyone else. Kobe Bryant would regularly be on the court far before others, getting in a full workout as others were just coming to an early 7 am practice.

While the message was a valuable look in the mirror about my work ethic and a chance to recommit to habits I want to espouse, I took slightly different lessons from the book than many others might have.

  1. For teams, it’s critical to remember that just putting your nose to the grindstone won’t help if you have a poor strategy or your team isn’t aligned to the strategy. Stopping to assess direction is incredibly important. Too many product teams I work with skip over completely or forget to spend regular time redefining what outputs matter to them. It’s why almost every team I work with needs better strategic roadmaps to stop wasting time.

  2. It’s easy to think about being relentless at a visible pursuit (career, money, hobbies, sports, just working harder …). It can be trickier to be relentless when it comes to things that are less visible or won’t show fruit for a long time (parenting, integrity, faith, marriage, kindness, working on the right things …). While I personally have gains to make from working harder, I never want that to overshadow what’s truly important in my life.

My faith and my family easily outweigh any professional success I will ever achieve.

What I published

3 leadership lessons from a legendary football coach (that have nothing to do with football) (Article)

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing (Walt Disney) (LinkedIn Post)

Be kind, even in your work (LinkedIn Video)


What have you been learning about?

Ryan

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