Kobe Bryant on Investing In People’s Future
Kobe Bryant, the newly retired star of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, had a successful 20-year pro career. Drafted straight from high school to join the NBA as a 17-year old, Bryant had to juggle the sudden fame, wealth, and responsibility that comes with being a leader-in-the-making in his profession. It was a road that he did not always navigate well, but he admits in reflection of the life lessons he has learned along the way.
Kobe just wrote a brief article as a letter to his younger self for The Player’s Tribune. In it, he gives his life’s lesson on why it’s better to invest in people you want to help instead of giving it to them. Here are the highlights that we can learn from Kobe on how to build people for the better by investing in them:
Invest is different than give. No one expects a return when they give, but everyone expects a return on an investment. Bryant’s emphasis on INVEST means to cultivate others to produce fruit. Putting time and resources into people as an investment into them means you’re helping them produce fruit at some point down the road.
Helping should not hold people back. Why do so many lottery winners have worse lives after hitting the jackpot? Because they didn’t appreciate the effort that went into earning and growing. It’s like the baby chick trying to hatch from an egg – if you break the shell open for them they die soon afterwards; their strength to survive is gained by the struggle to hatch and start their own life. Help others in a way that propels them forward.
Help others for themselves, not for yourself. Many times we want to help because of some emotional void it helps us to fill. This is an inverted thought process that starts with self and factors in others afterwards. True care and concern for helping others is to fully put themselves first without regard for yourself, in true servant-leadership fashion.
Think of the future, not of the here and now. Our best intentions can be very short sighted. We live in an age of daily compulsion, strife to get through the day, and what to do to make ourselves feel good when we get through it. Instead or mortgaging our future for the relative victories today, we need to focus on the long game and how to best meet other’s needs (not wants) to give them a more purposeful life.
“Use your success, wealth, and influence” to put people in the best position possible. This is one of Bryant’s best quotes. What you have to offer – time, money, talent, wisdom, influence – should set people up to succeed. Your resources and the fruit of your labors should be a blessing (and not a curse) to others. Getting others to get to a point of self-sufficiency and growth – even through times of failure – will empower them to attain sustainable success, achieve goals, and perpetuate investing in others through the by-product of their talents and resources. Use yourself to pay it forward.
Create independent people, not addicted people. The proverbial saying “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime” is echoed through Kobe’s words here. Our businesses, industries, society, families, and world are best served by independent folks who work towards the betterment of others and not seeking after their own interests and wants continuously. Investing is not a bail-out, it’s sowing a powerful seed for everyone’s future.
Set things up right early on. Whether during the early days of childhood or start-up days for a business, establishing these habits is crucial. But regardless of whether it was done early or now, Bryant shows and urgency to do it now. Today is not too late, it is the day to start investing in people to propel future leaders and generations to take the lessons KObe learned and impact as many as we can during the time we have.
Invest heavily in others. The value you place on people, and the resources given to them, will help them to gain a value of themselves and others, and an appreciation for stewardship of your talents ans gifts.