Kobe Bryant, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation.

I just finished reading a great article on ESPN.com about Kobe Bryant, where he may be heading post basketball, his career, his persona, and his final season. The article can be read here: http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/15232286/former-lakers-star-kobe-bryant-left-nba-just-getting-started

Kobe Bryant is undoubtedly one of the greatest basketball players, if not one of the greatest athletes, of all time. He is a true competitor and wants to be great at everything he does. This drive leads him to intense, sometimes maniacal focus, which happens to be what an entrepreneur needs to succeed. He held his focus dead set on winning and being one of the greatest to ever play the game for over 20 years. That’s much, much longer than most businesses last.

He was always working on his craft. He was constantly at the gym and often the first one in the building, working on improving his game. He worked incredibly hard at honing his skills. In a different article than mentioned above, I remember reading that him and Derek Fisher used to play full court one on one games for practice. If you’ve never done it, it’s one hell of a work out.

Even after winning multiple championships, essentially the equivalent of selling off multiple companies or having multiple IPOs, he continued to push himself. He kept his focus on his goals, and never wavered. He pushed through hard times with grit, and during good times he never let himself get comfortable, always keeping his competitive spirit alive and well. Always working to better himself. Always pushing his team for more. If he was leading a Fortune 500 company, he would be the type of leader to push his team to continue innovating, much in the way Steve Jobs did, and Larry and Sergey do today. Although, I think Steve and Kobe are much more alike in the personality department.

Kobe is also similar to Steve Jobs in that he knew his end was coming, unfortunately for Steve it was the end of his life, not just a chapter in it. Steve had Walter Isaacson write his biography, allowing for many details some thought Steve may not allow to be said about him. Kobe, after his third season ending injury in only a handful of years decided he had one more season in him before calling it quits, and he brought together a new team to document his final season and to help tell the story of his legacy.

However, Kobe isn’t done yet, and has been planning his post basketball future for a while now. As many of the best entrepreneurs sail from one great thing to the next, Kobe is working on doing the same.

Great athletes, like great entrepreneurs and business leaders, know how to push themselves and their teams through the hard times and the best of times, avoiding defeat and complacency. Success in many fields is often found through grit, determination, and an intense focus on one’s ultimate goals, which can’t be missed when studying Kobe.