Goals, Effort, Legacy: Three Ingredients for Success

I’m a casual NBA (American Basketball) fan and love to watch a few games whenever I’m in the US. I was on a skiing holiday in Utah in January and had the chance to see some NBA games in the right time zone.

On Saturday 25th January I watched one legend, Le Bron James, pass another legend, Kobe Bryant, in terms of total career points scored. (33,644 points in case you were wondering)

On Sunday, 26th January, Kobe Bryant was dead; killed in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna, and seven other passengers. 

In the week that followed I saw dozens of interviews with people who knew Kobe, and some old clips of things he’d said and done.

Here are a few things I learned that are relevant to anyone trying to succeed in their career:

1. The Power Of A Goal

This was a guy who set a goal to be the greatest player ever in the NBA.

Hard core fans can debate whether he achieved that status, but I’m sure we can say he’s certainly a contender on a very short list.

What makes this even more impressive, is that he set that goal when Michael Jordan (MJ) was still playing in the NBA. Jordan was a superstar and also a contender for greatest player of all time. (Here’s a snippet of MJ’s greatness and athletic ability)

For Kobe to publicly state he wanted to surpass MJ when he was just a young kid starting his sporting career was considered:



Borderline blasphemy

Take your pick.

You might not have a goal to build the greatest Financial Planning business of all time (or maybe you do), but you’ve got to have a goal if you want to challenge and stretch yourself.

The bigger the goal the better in my opinion

2. You Gotta Do The Work

It’s one thing to set big goals, but there’s another key ingredient; doing the work.

In the words of American Football coach Vince Lombardi, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

In an older interview, I heard Kobe state that he knew he was blessed with extraordinary talent, but he wanted people to know he’d also worked harder than anyone to develop every bit of that talent.

He did the work.

And he did it over a long period of time.

“I’ve played with IVs before, during and after games. I’ve played with a broken hand, a sprained ankle, a torn shoulder, a fractured tooth, a severed lip, and a knee the size of a softball. I don’t miss 15 games because of a toe injury that everybody knows wasn’t that serious in the first place.”  — Kobe Bryant

What’s the work that you need to do over a long period of time, if you want to achieve the goals you’ve set for your business and your life?

3. Pass It On

Michael Lee, senior writer for The Athletic said in an interview on radio station WBUR, “I think later in his career, [Kobe] realized that … individual accolades and honors can only be so fulfilling. And toward the end, he recognized that he needed to pay it forward with the next generation.”

Kobe Bryant was doing that coaching his daughter’s basketball team, his involvement with women’s professional basketball and with the Mamba Sports Academy.

What struck me in every interview I saw was the number of people he had positively affected over the course of his career and in his retirement. Everyone had a Kobe story of how he’d impacted their lives.

Passing on what you know is the key to creating a legacy. If you’re personally successful in your career, that’s step 1, but you’re not truly great unless you pass on what you know and develop the next generation of champions.

I’ve written about this previously in Mistakes Are A Win, Win Situation.

There comes a time when you need to switch from player to coach.

What Can We Learn?

If you want to be great in your business there are some lessons to take from Kobe Bryant’s sporting example.

Set big goals

Do the work

And pass on what you’ve learned

Let me know how you go.

Related: The Advice Model for the Next Generation of Clients