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Kobe Bryant has won his first Oscar—here's what he says it takes to succeed

Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for the Best Animated Short Film
David Crotty | Getty Images
Kobe Bryant won an Oscar for the Best Animated Short Film

Five-time NBA champion and former MVP Kobe Bryant took home a different kind of trophy Sunday night: An Oscar statuette, for producing the Best Animated Short Film, "Dear Basketball." It felt "better than winning the championship," the retired basketball star told reporters after receiving the award.

Bryant, who also launched a $100 million venture capital fund in 2016, says success boils down to a growth mindset, and "to grow, you have to constantly learn, you have to constantly move, constantly improve. That's the key. That's what makes life fun."

It's one of the reasons he doesn't hesitate to reach out to other successful people. "What I love doing is cold-calling people, getting their book list," he told CNBC. "'What did you read? What did you learn? How did you learn it?' Those are the questions."

And contrary to popular belief, sometimes hard work isn't enough to succeed, Bryant writes on The Players' Tribune. He gives the example of his rookie season for the Lakers in 1996, when he played five minutes and scored two points in a disappointing game against the Houston Rockets.

"I needed to work harder," he wirtes. 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 [Iverson] 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."

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."

This is an update of a previously published article.

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