“You have to emotionally put yourself with your back against the wall, and kind of trick yourself, so to speak, to feel that there is no other option, but to perform, but to battle.” – Kobe Bryant
This is the warrior ethos. It is an exercise in control of the mental state. It is done consciously until it becomes subconcious. In this sense, it is within the grasp of every competitor. Very few reach it.
A few weeks ago, my son watched “The Announcement”, and, as is his way, culled youtube for information on Magic Johnson. This led to videos of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, and inevitably questions. Initially, the questions focused on the relative attributes of these epic players, shooting, passing, scoring, defense, athleticism, but in my mind it always got back, perhaps never left, competitive passion. Each one of these players was obsessive as a competitor. Magic and Bird had each other, trading titles and MVP trophies during the 80’s. Jordan had himself, and is the model for what Kobe is talking about.
Jordan was fueled by slights, real or simply perceived. He relentlessly sought and found fuel to stoke his competitive fires. When Clyde Drexler was touted as a challenger, Jordan eviscerated him in the Finals. When to avoid monotony, Karl Malone or even close friend Charles Barkely were voted MVP, Jordan humbled them in the finals. The key in this competitive fury is not simply the stage performance in games, but the commitment to train, prepare and learn the game through the twilight of his career. His competitiveness defeated his greatest challenger….complacency. Insert by Mr. Charm: Let’s repeat that line…“His competitiveness defeated his greatest challenger…complacency.”
Jordan, and now Kobe, despite all of their talents, have recognized the mind is the distinquishing factor, and controlling their mentality is central to peak performance.