What Kobe Bryant and John Maxwell Have In Common

Kobe Bryant beat Michael Jordan the other night. It wasn’t a one-on-one game, but Kobe scored 60 points in his farewell game.  Jordan scored 35 in has last performance. Scoring 60 points is something that only a select few of the best players have been able to do (22 players in fact), but doing it on your last game, after 20 seasons in the NBA, and in your late 30’s is a sports miracle.

But Kobe’s always had a reputation for giving it all he can, that’s why his coach said he wasn’t surprised about Kobe’s 60 points. It’s a habit for Kobe. In fact, he’s scored 60 or more points 7 times in his career making. He’s #2 on the list of players with most games scoring over 60. During the post-game interview, Kobe told a shocked reporter,

I gave everything I could possible give to this game… I left it all here.”

One of my favorite peeps,  Les Brown, says the richest place in any city is the cemetery. Why? Because it’s filled with unfulfilled dreams, books, inventions, art, and ideas that people took to their graves. Their creativity never saw the light of day. Their fear was greater than their vision, so they were overcome with self-doubt.  They never breathed life into their creativity.

Few of us will have the chance to play in front of thousands of fans like Kobe, but there’s one thing we can take from his last game. Life doesn’t have to slow down as we get older, pass our peak, or approach retirement. Instead, what if we treated life like our greatest craft and put everything possible into making the most of it until the lights turned off?

Like the Energizer bunny, what if you just keep going and going — until the battery dies. Why save something for the end (retirement)? Instead, our goal should be to leave it all behind and not take anything to the grave where it won’t do you, me or anyone any good. Like Les Brown likes to say,

“Live full; die empty.”

I’ve been working on my first book for over a year now. I might be good; it might stink. My book sales don’t matter as much as it did when I started this project. Of course, I’d love to sell thousands of copies. But to be great at something, you have to be prepared to stink at it first.  What’s more important at this stage in the journey is taking action toward the things we want, instead of just be paralyzed by self-doubt and fear, which leads to inaction.

When leadership guru John Maxwell wrote his first leadership book, it had more than 30 chapters. When they asked him why it had so many chapters, he said, “Because that’s everything that I know.” Not much of a strategy.

Fast forward 30 years and he’s authored over 60 FREAKING books (not basketball points, BOOKS.) When Maxwell retires, which I don’t think is possible as long as he’s breathing, he will have written everything he knows about his one craft — leadership.

Maxwell will leave all of himself in his books.  We can assume he’s not taking anything to the grave. Instead of regrets, he’s leaving a legacy. Kobe is leaving a legacy of his own. These guys didn’t wait for the end to give it all they had.

They have an attitude we can model. You know all of this reminds me of when Martin Luther King, Jr said,

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

I learned from these two men that we can leave a legacy by focusing on those few things that matter most in life and giving it all we have in those areas.  We have to continuously move forward, even if it’s just an inch. If we lived that way more people would be able to say, just like Kobe, “I left it all here.”