Because of 4am: Inside the Mind of Kobe Bryant

Max Weigand
Nov 9, 2017 · 4 min read

Kobe Bryant is generally considered one of the greatest athletes in the world — not just because of his talent, but his incredible mindset and work ethic.

When he was on stage accepting the Icon Award at the ESPYs in 2016, he addressed his fellow athletes in a speech that has stuck with me for the past few weeks:

“We’re not on this stage just because of talent or ability.” Bryant said.

“We’re up here because of 4 a.m. We’re up here because of two-a-days or five-a-days.

We’re up here because we had a dream and let nothing stand in our way. If anything tried to bring us down, we used it to make us stronger.

We were never satisfied, never finished. We will never be retired.”

There were thousands of athletes more talented than Kobe. Athletes that had the same physical skills, the same goals, the same dreams. And there are thousands of salespeople, executives, coaches, and others that are far more talented than you and I.

But that won’t stop us. Kobe Bryant didn’t become of the greatest basketball players of all time simply because of talent. He became great because of 4 am. Because of two-a-days and five-a-days. He was great because he was willing to put in the work every single day. 4 am, 7 times a week.

Whenever we look at successful people, it is easy to overestimate talent and forget about the role that obsession and the willingness to outwork anyone else play. Obviously, every great athlete is talented. But that´s not enough. Talent alone gets you only so far. If you truly want to be great, you need to be willing to work harder for your dreams than anyone else, sacrifice the things that others won´t sacrifice, and push yourself when everyone else has long given up.

You need to put in the 4 am`s, the two-a-days and five-a-days of your profession. Whether that is studying a new craft, making 100 sales calls, reading books, doing research, or working on your side business, you need to be crystal clear about the fact that only an outstanding work ethic produces outstanding results. If you want to be the best, you need to outwork the rest.

The Dream

Great sacrifice is only possible with a great dream. You will only put in the work if what you are pursuing is big enough to be worth the sacrifice. Small dreams lead to average. Big dreams lead to great. The higher you set your dreams in life, the more will you get out of it.

The 4 am`s and two-a-days will only happen if you have a goal worth striving for — something that allows you to push through pain and adversity because you know that it will be all worth it in the end.

Greatness isn’t easy. It requires doing things that are uncomfortable, painful, and scary. It requires putting in the work every day, whether you feel like it or not. No matter how tired you are, no matter how afraid you are, you need to get out there and do the things you don´t want to do.

One of the most important lessons I have ever learned is that no one feels like it. Kobe Bryant wasn´t born with a love for 4 am`s or five-a-days. These things aren’t magically easier for him than anyone else. But how many people are truly willing to wake up that early and put in the work? Not just once or twice, but every single day, for the rest of your career.

No one will ever feel like doing that. Just as no one will ever feel like making a hundred more sales calls than their competition, mastering their craft in their free time, waking up early, and staying up late. No one ever feels like doing these things, but that shouldn´t stop you from doing them.

As Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success Magazine, said:

“What do successful people and unsuccessful people have in common? They both hate to do what it takes to be successful. Successful people just do them anyway.”

The truth is, no one gives a damn about your feelings. No one cares about your fears, excuses, and so-called “reasons” of why you shouln’t do what you need to do. And neither should you.

Chasing big dreams requires doing the things that you don’t want to do. In fact, the things you are afraid of the most are usually the exact things you should do. You don’t grow from what is easy, only from the hardships you face. The more you challenge yourself to overcome your limiting beliefs, your fears and doubts, the sooner you will reach your goals.

Now, what is your 4 am? What are your two-a-days and five-a-days? What are the things that will make you great? The things that scare the hell out of you? That will require a new and better version of yourself? Follow your dreams, and let nothing stand in your way. If anything tries to bring you down, use it to make you stronger.

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Max Weigand

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I write about behavioral psychology and practical tips to build better habits and master your mind at