The greatest Los Angeles Laker, Kobe Bryant, retired in the 2016 – 2017 season. Here is a summation of his career - 33,643 points, 18 All-Star appearances, 5 NBA championships. His last game was a 60-point performance against the Utah Jazz. Everyone who has ever played with Kobe has said that his greatest quality was his work ethic, but I agree in part. One thing that separated Kobe from everyone else was his tremendous work ethic post-failure. Most people will remember how he ended his career, but I will always remember how he started. I believe that was one of the MOST important moments in his career.
In Kobe Bryant’s rookie year, the Los Angeles Lakers made it to the playoffs. The Lakers were playing the Utah Jazz – Game 5, 1997 playoffs. The Jazz led the series 3 -1. The game came down to the wire. The game was tied 89-89. – 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter. Kobe comes down with the ball – drives to the foul line, pulls up and…. AIRBALL. The game goes into overtime. The game continues. Kobe gets the ball on the wing and shoots – AIRBALL. Back-to-back airballs. 40 seconds left in overtime. Another AIRBALL from Kobe Bryant. With 4 seconds left on the clock, Kobe shoots another AIRBALL.
Can you imagine how he felt after those devastating misses? How would you feel? What would you do? Here’s what Kobe did. That same night, Kobe flew back to LA. He went down to his local high school. The janitor let him in, and he shot the basketball all day. He felt horrible for letting his fans down and knew that folks would dismiss him because of his failure. He came back next season and was determined to vindicate himself. That is exactly what he did. This is a great example of what we should do when we experience failure. The most devastating of losses can make you feel like life is over. Instead of allowing the failure to cause you to breakdown, use it to breakthrough. For Kobe, failure was an opportunity to reinvent himself and his game. He felt the pain, embarrassment, and loss and used it to fuel the next endeavor. You don't have to be held hostage by the failures of yesterday. Instead, see failure as the price you pay to achieve progress and success. That perspective will lead to perseverance. Perseverance leads to longevity.
To achieve any worthy goal, you will probably face some risk and uncertainty. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Before you take a risk, decide whether or not the goal is worth the risk involved. And once you’ve determined that it is, pull the trigger. But sometimes, people still don’t try to do anything to get closer to their goal because they tend to fall into certain traps. Here is a list of the traps that can keep you from taking the risks you need to take and how you should begin to think about them.
1. The “It will be embarrassing” trap – It can feel embarrassing when you fail. Oftentimes because of the possibility of embarrassment, many people believe that failure is to be avoided at all costs. But the only way to be better is to take steps forward, even the small shaky ones. Success comes in taking many small steps, and sometimes those steps end up in falls. Don’t be ashamed to fail occasionally. The real failure is in not trying. Remember that some of the greatest people endured tremendous failure and embarrassment that they used to fuel their next endeavor.
2. The “It’s not that important” trap - They second-guess everything they do. People tell themselves that it's not that important. The truth is that if you wait long enough, nothing is important. Unfortunately, the regret will still exist in your mind and heart. You can make amends for the mistakes you make, but you can do nothing for the attempts never made.
3. The “It’s too hard” trap - Some people think everything in life should be easy and when they find out that achievement takes effort, they give up. They are not willing to focus for a few years, months, and for some people, even a few weeks to reach a goal. They make excuses and walk away.
4. The “It’s not fair” trap - Life's not fair, but many people choose not to walk in that reality. These people worry about making life fair more than trying to take advantage of the opportunities in front of them. These people are always saying, "I shouldn't have to do this." They compare their journeys to others, and their perspective leads to discouragement and ultimately, quitting.
5. The “It’s not the right time” trap – It will never be convenient to pursue a goal that’s worthwhile. You’ll have bills, family drama, obligations, and deadlines. Don't wait for all the lights to be green before you leave the house. I understand and appreciate all the hardships that come up, but I want you to do something. Just because you can’t do it all, start doing something to get closer to your goals. You don’t have to do everything. Just do something.
6. The “I don’t feel inspired” trap – You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great. Mediocre people do things when they feel inspired. Great people do things regardless of what their emotions tell them. This doesn’t mean they don’t take time to process their emotion and pain, but they are not controlled by their emotions.
I hope this list helps to eliminate some of the ways you may have been thinking that have been hurting your progress or keeping you stuck in general. Which traps resonate with you the most? In what ways can you begin to get out of the trap or traps you’ve identified?