“It is in those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway.” — Kobe Bryant
He would not be outworked
Recalling his time playing against the Lakers, Jay Williams, knowing that Kobe Bryant was in the team, decided to train earlier than his teammates to get a head start. When he arrived at the court he found Kobe, by himself, hard at work and drenched in sweat from training. He looked like he had been there for over an hour. Jay watched him for another 30 minutes giving his all.
The Lakers won the game that night and Kobe scored 40 points alone. When the game was over, Jay asked Kobe why he was training so hard, “Because I saw you there,” replied Kobe. “ I saw you come in and wanted you to know that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, I’m willing to work harder than you.”
He was the first to arrive and the last to leave
Bryant would show up for the scheduled 7 a.m. practice at 5 a.m. After high school practice, he would routinely make his teammates stay to play games of one-on-one to 100 points. Lakers head coach Byron Scott would find a sweaty 18-year-old rookie Bryant in a darkened gym, two hours before practice, doing individual shooting and dribbling drills. He routinely outworked the NBA’s best players.
During the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, he did full predawn workouts before official practices started. Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade recounted such an episode to ESPN’s Michael Wallace. “We’re in Las Vegas and we all come down for team breakfast at the start of the whole training camp,” Bosh said. “And Kobe comes in with ice on his knees. He’s got sweat drenched through his workout gear. And I’m like, ‘It’s 8 o’clock in the morning. Where is he coming from?’” Wade added, “Everybody else just woke up. We’re all yawning, and he’s already three hours and a full workout into his day.”
He trained 4x more sessions than the rest
Kobe Bryant was a most assiduous worker. “If your job is to be the best basketball player in the world,” he says, “you have to practice. If you get up at 10 a.m. and train for two hours from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., you still have to let your body recover. You will only be able to get out again and resume training at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Those are two sessions. Now imagine if you woke up at 3 a.m. and trained at 4 a.m. to 6 a.am., and were back at it again at 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., then again from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., then again from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. That’s four sessions. If you keep this up for years, the separation between you and your peers will grow larger and larger, so that by year five or six you will be so far ahead that you will be among the best in the world. I start my day early because I can get more work in,”
He adds: ‘I can train more hours, and I know the other guys aren’t doing it because I know what their training schedule is. This is the reason why I can retire and be completely comfortable with it because I know that I’ve done everything I could to be the best basketball player I could be.”
His fulfillment came from pushing daily to reach his full potential
Speaking during his retirement ceremony on what it takes to become great, he said; “It is in those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream.” The dream is the journey and hard work it takes to obtain the goal.
These are the moments cherished by all champions —moments that they remember for the rest of their lives. “If you believe in what you are doing,” says Dale Carnegie. “Then let nothing hold you up in your work. The thing is to get the work done. Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”
Read more in my new book! The Trials And Triumphs of Hyperachievers