The death of Kobe Bryant at 41 in that helicopter crash a few months ago was a tragedy.
He was someone to be admired in so many ways and from whom business leaders can learn a lot. Just hours before Bryant’s death, LeBron James had remarked to a reporter that he, LeBron, had been inspired by Bryant’s work ethic throughout his own NBA career.
Michael Jordan, Kobe’s idol, said that Kobe was the only player ever to display his own work ethic.
In High School, Kobe reportedly used to show up to practice at 5 a.m. Former Lakers player and head coach Byron Scott told Business Insider that he once found an 18 year-old Bryant shooting in a dark gym two hours before practice.
According to a Team USA trainer, Kobe once held a workout from 4:15 a.m. to 11 a.m., refusing to leave the gym until he made 800 shots. In the NBA, even when he was injured, Kobe was always the first player in the gym.
Shaquille O’Neal once told a story about how Kobe used to practice without a ball.
“You’d walk in there and he’d be cutting and grunting and motioning like he was dribbling and shooting — except there was no ball. I thought it was weird, but I’m pretty sure it helped him.”
He often kept other players after practice as “guinea pigs,” to try out his new moves on them.
He put himself through intense workouts on NBA game days and at halftime he would watch videos of his moves and his teammates, to help them all improve during the second half.
When he retired from basketball and started doing other things, he cold-called businesspeople and entrepreneurs to learn more about them and their secrets to success.
Bryant told Bloomberg:
“I’ll just cold call people and pick their brain about stuff. Some of the questions that I’ll ask will seem really, really simple and stupid, quite honestly, for them. But if I don’t know, I don’t know. You have to ask. I’ll just do that. I’ll just ask questions and I want to know more about how they build their businesses and how they run their companies and how they see the world.”
I believe that almost anyone with a work ethic like Kobe Bryant’s can succeed in whatever he does, and that whether or not you have that work ethic is a choice you make every day.
Bryant accomplished more in his all-too-short lifetime than most of us do. If you want help accomplishing more in yours, take a close look at your own work ethic.