One of the greatest basketball players ever, Kobe Bryant, retired on April 13 after playing the final game in his 20th season. He went out with a record breaking, breathtaking 60 point performance that, just like his career, will never be forgotten in the annals of sport. He is perhaps best known for his Mamba Mentality, an almost obsessive drive towards winning that will lead you to drive through all obstacles in the pursuit of success. Due to this mentality, Kobe was accused by some people as being arrogant and harsh, while others idolized him for his relentless drive. He was either hated by his rivals and sometimes even his teammates, or his fans idolized him for his dazzling skill and killer instinct. However, one thing that cannot be argued is that he gave his all for his goals and ultimately enthralled us with the way he played basketball. Those of us who aspire for greatness should aspire to do our work the same way Kobe Bryant played basketball. The key to this is the Mamba Mentality.
The Mamba Mentality is an approach that says, "Come what may, I am going to achieve this. I don't care who the opponents are, what the score is, or who is given the better odds, I am coming out as a champion and I am going to demolish everything in my way." It calls for utter focus and concentration on achieving your goal. The goal is the only thing in the world for you. You believe that come what may, you are going to win and you are going to do it in the best way possible. Losing does not exist in your vocabulary. This single-minded never say die attitude will lead you to success because ultimately, concentration attracts success. If you let your goal possess you, you will find that the hard work necessary for awesome success comes naturally to you. You won’t feel any laziness or inclination to stop trying. When you are in the Mamba Mentality, there is no option other than achieving the goal.
What this gives you is the ability to enter the state of Flow. Flow is a state where you are totally absorbed in your work. This is the state from which all great creativity and performance arises. In a Flow state, you provide your best possible work. This was beautifully explained by Swami Vivekananda, the famous Hindu monk, when he said “If the painter, losing the consciousness of his ego, becomes completely immersed in his painting, he will be able to produce a masterpiece.”
When Kobe Bryant was playing at his best, one could see a steely look of focus in his eyes as he produced unbelievable play after unbelievable play. This was possible because he was completely focused on his goal. There was not even a fraction of his being which was thinking about defeat. His entire being was devoted to winning.
We can produce a similar state in our daily lives no matter what we are doing, whether it be studying for a test, playing sports, or anything else which you want to do. The first thing to do is to find your passion and let it possess you. This does not mean to become compulsively obsessed with something, which is totally unhealthy. Rather, it means to find something which you love with your entire being and let that love drive you to great things. If this love is not totally there, it will be hard to find the concentration necessary to achieve the Mamba Mentality. When love is there for something, hard work comes naturally. You don’t have to push yourself. The work becomes a byproduct of your devotion. When you learn to stop having your goals and instead have them possess you, energy comes from a different, more spiritual place. It just comes to you and opens up unbelievable avenues of performance.
Second, you must learn to focus your mind. This can be done through practices such as meditation. Meditation is a practice that aims to help the practitioner become perpetually present in the current moment. This was a favorite practice of Kobe Bryant and he credits it with helping him to produce some of his greatest performances.
If you are writing a test, and you start thinking about the future or the past, there is no way you will get the result you want. If you are playing a sport and think about something while playing, you will not be able to play your best. It is estimated by cognitive scientists that we can process 126 bits of information per second. 10-15 bits is used up at all times to maintain awareness of your existence. This leaves us with 110 bits with which we can concentrate. This seems like a lot, but it is actually quite limited. If you are listening to a song or having a conversation, you need 60 bits of information just to understand what is going on. This is why people who multitask are shown to do less efficient work. They are spreading their 126 bits around multiple things rather than on one solitary thing.
In order to the best work, we must put every bit of concentration we can into the task at hand. The more of our 126 bits we put into something, the better we can do it. The Flow state occurs when all or most of the 110 bits we have available to us are focused on the activity at hand. Meditation gives you the strength of mind necessary to dedicate more and more of your processing capacity to the task at hand rather than any meaningless distractions in the environment. If you start off only able to dedicate 50 bits of your capacity to something, meditation will gradually increase that number until it reaches 110, at which point you reach perfect concentration. One of the best places to learn about meditation is Mindvalley(http://www.mindvalley.com/), a company based out of Malaysia. They provide excellent courses on personal growth and their YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/mindvalley) has many talks about meditation practices and the science behind meditation.
The Mamba Mentality is the key to unparalleled success and happiness. It is a supreme state of concentration which will lead you to execute your skills to perfection. It gives you the strength to not think about distractions and single handedly make your way to your dream. You gain the ability to put every bit of your being into your work. When you reach this level of concentration, the inevitable result is the flowering of your potential and a life of greatness. When you focus on something with the intensity of the Mamba Mentality, the universe itself will conspire for you to get it.