Careers

Kobe Bryant says hard work isn't enough—here's what it takes to succeed

Kobe Bryant
Christian Petersen | Getty Images
Kobe Bryant

In Kobe Bryant's rookie season for the Lakers in 1996, he played five minutes and scored two points in a disappointing game against the Houston Rockets.

"I needed to work harder," he writes on The Players' Tribune. He did. But three years later, he remembers, NBA legend Allen Iverson scored 41 points and made 10 assists while playing against him.

"Working harder wasn't enough," Bryant says. "I had to study this man maniacally." And he did: "I obsessively read every article and book I could find about AI. I obsessively watched every game he had played. ... I obsessively studied his every success, and his every struggle. I obsessively searched for any weakness I could find."

Bryant's fixation paid off. A year later, he had a second chance at guarding Iverson. He didn't score once, Bryant recalls of the rematch: "When I started guarding AI, he had 16 at the half. He finished the game with 16.

"Revenge was sweet. But I wasn't satisfied after the win. I was annoyed that he had made me feel that way in the first place."

From that point on, Bryant decided to "approach every match-up as a matter of life and death," he writes. "No one was going to have that kind of control over my focus ever again." He went on to win five NBA championships over his 20 seasons with the Lakers.

Bryant's approach is applicable beyond the NBA. As self-made entrepreneur Grant Cardone writes in his book "Be Obsessed or be Average," fixation is the key to achieving massive success: "Sure, you can be successful without being obsessed, but you can't reach the levels of success I am talking about without being obsessed.

"It's the single common factor that super successful people around the world share."

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