What’s the Mamba Mentality?
I was going back and forth with a buddy this week about Kobe Bryant’s mentality and why it led to outsize success in a league where he competed with the best of the best. I came across a short clip of him describing the “mamba mentality” and why it works. Here are my takeaways from the clip:
- Kobe’s mamba mentality was about being the best version of himself through continual improvement.
- Kobe understood the power of focusing on the right habits to produce his desired outcome. He developed a habit of training every day, which increased his chances of being the best. (Atomic Habits is great for understanding the power of habits.)
- Kobe understood the effect of compounding effort. He trained more often—four times a day—by starting early in the morning. With this much training, his skills improved rapidly. So much so that after five years, he was so far ahead of his peers that there was nothing they could do to catch him. In a league of the most gifted individuals, he left everyone in the dust.
Kobe’s clip reminded me of a post I shared a few months back. Self-improvement is the key to sustained outsize success. The biggest limit on your success is your ability to improve yourself.
Kobe was smart enough to develop his mamba mentality early in his career, and he became a legend. I’m not as smart as he is, so it took me longer to fully understand this mindset. Because I now understand how important it is, I have daily habits focused on improving myself by acquiring knowledge. I’ve been sharing daily posts for over two years, and that’s a big part of my efforts. I also spend around two hours a day learning. I can’t predict or control the outcome of these efforts, but if I stick with these habits, I’m confident I’ll have outsize success over the next few decades. Maybe I’ll be as fortunate as Kobe and leave my peers in the dust too.
I’m no Kobe Bryant, but I subscribe to his mamba mentality (in my own nerdy way!).
Now You Know . . . Now What?
A friend asked for my thoughts on accessibility of information, knowledge gaps, etc. Early in my journey, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I focused on acquiring knowledge about areas where I wanted to be successful (e.g., start-ups). That was helpful, but I realized it wasn’t enough. I had to take it a step further. I needed to figure out how to apply that knowledge. How do I apply it to my situation? How do I use it to achieve my goals? How do I execute given this new information?
Knowing what to do was helpful, but figuring out how to do it was a game changer because execution is what really matters. Knowledge is without a doubt valuable, but applying it is how you progress toward goals. I wasn’t always sure how to execute based on the knowledge I gathered, but I was determined to figure it out.
I ended up settling on two approaches. The first was to talk to experienced people who’d done what I was trying to do and ask how they did it. Dive into the specifics with them and get a better understanding of what worked, what didn’t work, and why. The second was to test. Come up with a few small things that have a reasonable chance of working and try them. Test them until I hit on the one(s) that work. Double down on what worked and kill the rest.
I still seek to learn and fill my knowledge gaps, but I also think about how to apply my knowledge and move the needle forward
Greatness Requires Pain and Taking Responsibility
I listened to someone share his life story recently. It was full of the highest highs and the lowest lows. He had outsize success early in his life, but it all came crumbling down, and he never recovered. As I listened to him tell his story, a few things jumped out at me.
He never accepted responsibility for the part he played in his downfall. Lots of things weren’t within his control, but he made a series of decisions that made the situation worse that it had to be. He never acknowledged those decisions and the negative impact they had. His perspective was, I got dealt a bad hand, which is true. But he never acknowledged that he played his hand about as badly as anyone could. When you’ve been dealt a bad hand and things don’t look great, it’s still possible to win if you play your cards right. A bad hand isn’t one that’s guaranteed to lose.
Ray Dalio says pain + reflection = progress. When I think of progress, I think of growth. This person hasn’t grown. He’s still in the same position he was in (if not a worse one) when things went against him. I suspect this is because of his reflection process—or lack thereof. Part of reflecting is being self-aware and honest with yourself. You need to own up to the things you did that contributed to your situation (even if they’re minor).
This person is talented and had every opportunity in the world to be someone great, but he didn’t reach his full potential because didn’t accept responsibility. If you’re trying to do something great, understand that pain is an inevitable part of the journey. Accepting responsibility for your role in creating your pain is key to growing so you can reach your full potential.
I’ve been doing all kinds of entrepreneurial things since I was a kid. Some of them were crazy. As long as they weren’t too far out there or unsafe, my dad supported my pursuing my ideas, even though he wasn’t an entrepreneur. He did whatever he could and even got his hands dirty to help me get some of them off the ground. His encouragement was pivotal and led to my embracing entrepreneurship. I’m thankful and appreciative that he’s always been so supportive.
Happy Father’s Day, Pops! I appreciate the love and support. Couldn’t have done it without you.
Strong Opinions That Could Be Wrong
Having strong opinions can be a positive trait for successful people. The tricky part is that no one is right 100% of the time. No matter how strong your opinion is about something, you could still be wrong. Actually, depending on your line of work, you can be wrong a lot and still be successful. For example, if you’re an investor and wrong 50% of the time, you’ll be considered a great investor with a strong track record because you can make many times more than you invested on winners, while losses on losers are capped at the amount you invested.
If you have strong opinions, try to have the humility to recognize when you’re wrong. It’s easier said than done. One way to do it is to stay curious and keep learning about the topic you’re so confident about. Talk to people (ideally people whose perspectives differ) about it. Read about it. All while keeping an open mind. As you learn, your conviction will increase or decrease. If it decreases substantially, you should consider the possibility that you’re wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with having strong opinions about something and being wrong. It happens to everyone. Recognizing that your strong opinion is incorrect and course correcting quickly is what sets you apart and earns you respect.
As a kid, I had lots of dreams and ideas. Regardless of how bad or outlandish the idea, my mom always listened and encouraged me. She let me know I could do or be whatever I wanted if I set my mind to it and worked hard. Her encouragement during my formative years gave me a solid foundation and the confidence to pursue entrepreneurship (and all my other ideas, good and bad) over the years.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I appreciate your love and support!
When All Is Said and Done, What Will You Regret?
I listened to an old interview of Jeff Bezos explaining why he decided to leave his stable job to start Amazon. Not just any job—a high-paying job at an investment banking firm on Wall Street. It was a tough decision that he ultimately made using what he described as a regret-minimization framework.
He projected himself into the future to age 80. He wanted to minimize the number of regrets he would have as he looked back on his life. An important part of his thought process was identifying the things he’d regret not trying, even if he failed. Starting Amazon was one of them—even if it meant giving up his stable lifestyle.
I’m a huge fan of starting with the end in mind and working backward. I haven’t used a regret-minimization framework, but I’ve thought about what I want people to remember me for when I’m long gone and used that as a compass when making decisions.
For those fortunate enough to be able to consider only regret, I think it could be a good way to evaluate big decisions.
Do I Have a Good Reason for Doing It?
When I was younger, I made a series of decisions rooted in groupthink. Everyone else was doing it—whatever “it” was at the time—so I figured I should too. Some of those decisions proved to be painful. Upon reflection, I realized I was following the crowd instead of thinking for myself.
These days I’m very aware of this. If I find myself thinking about doing what everyone else is doing, I’ll pause and ask myself why I want to do it. If I can’t identify a reason that’s specific to my situation, I go the other way. This is difficult and sometimes isolating, but it’s served me well over the years.
I feel we’re in a period of escalating groupthink in a variety of areas. The people who think for themselves will be uncomfortable in the short to medium term but will ultimately be proven correct.
Entrepreneurs Don’t Retire – They Refocus Their Fire
I’m a big fan of YouTube. It’s an amazing educational tool for users and a powerful distribution method for smaller content creators.
I watched an episode of The Pivot where a professional athlete announced his retirement from the NFL. It was evident that he isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon. He’s in his early thirties and has been building a variety of businesses in anticipation of his retirement. He’s planning now to build these businesses at full throttle and also spend more time with his family. He’s not thinking about winding down. The participants pointed this out and agreed that retirement isn’t the right word for his announcement. They decided to describe his announcement as a “career change” instead. This really stuck with me.
I have a few entrepreneurial friends who’ve been blessed to achieve financial freedom. They can do what they want, when they want. They joke that they’re retired, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They’ve all started putting their time and energy into their next thing, whatever it is. They’re all doing something. None of them are idle.
Most entrepreneurs have a fire that burns inside them that can’t be extinguished. They focus that fire on what matters, and it’s often building companies. They aren’t the kind to retire and do nothing. Instead, they refocus their fire and change careers.
I spent Q4 of 2021 thinking about what I want to do differently. Historically I’ve set goals, but I always thought something was missing. You can do everything that’s in your control and still not achieve a goal. I never liked that, and I decided to focus on habits and systems in 2022. I read Atomic Habits and crystallized the habits I want to have that align with my identity.
I began implementing my new habits at the beginning of the new year. It was harder than I expected. I struggled to be consistent with all my new habits, and as I did, I realized that I need to simplify and focus on the one habit that will up the likelihood of my sticking to all my habits. So I did—and it’s been a game changer.
I’m now measuring one action every day. I have data for only a few weeks, but it’s clear. When I do this one thing that I want to be a habit, my days are much more productive and balanced and I get the outcomes I want. When I don’t, I’m far less productive, I’m reactive, and I don’t get the outcomes I want. This habit has such a big impact on my day that I consider it a foundational habit.
Figuring this out has changed my thinking about habits. Maintaining them felt like tons of work, and I wasn’t sure I could do it. Amazingly, it now feels like an easy life that I can maintain. I’m still doing the same things—it’s just how I think about them and what I focus on that changed. Glad I figured this out!