One of the pieces of advice we are all given to having a happy life is to find your passion, The idea is, if you can find that one thing (or things) that you are truly passionate about, that moves your soul, especially in a work context, you can live a much happier life. If you are lucky, you can figure out what you are passionate about at an early age, and build a work history and even life around those passions.
But some people are different. Some people know what they are passionate about, and they let that passion be their fuel to be the best. They aren’t content with simply doing what they love, they want to be the best at what they love.
The late long-distance runner Steve Prefontaine once said “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift”. This is one of my favorite quotes, as it is for many people. But there’s an underlying message in this quote that many people miss.
Consistently giving your best requires sacrifice.
If you look at people that are great at something, then you look at the people that are recognized as ‘the best’, the difference typically isn’t talent, but ”The best’ were willing to make sacrifices that others were not.
Being elite at anything comes at a cost. Not everyone is willing to pay that cost. But a few rare individuals value their gift enough to give it their all.
We lost one of those people on Sunday. Here’s who Kobe Bryant was:
That was the final 3 mins of Kobe’s final game,. When this video starts, the Lakers were down by 10 points. Kobe scored 17 straight points, including the game-winner. Then he finished the game, and his career, with an assist.
And he is exhausted. He can’t catch his breath, he is wobbly as he comes off the court each time. If you’ve played basketball, you know that when you get tired, the first thing that happens is you start to miss jump shots, because your legs can’t give you the normal amount of lift that they do when you are rested.
Yet Kobe continued to hit long jump shot after long jump shot. He blocked the fatigue and even the pain, out of his mind, and dominated.
Because he owed it to his fans to give them a show in his final game. But he also knew he owed it to himself. He owed it to the gift that God gave him.
I’ve always admired the sacrifice that Kobe was willing to make to be the best. He could have given half the effort and he probably still would have been a Hall of Famer, he was that good.
But he didn’t want to be good, he was driven to be the best. I think that’s the lesson I will take from Kobe, and maybe that is his lasting gift to us all: It’s not enough to simply find your passion, you owe it to yourself to let that passion consume you and make you be the best you can be.
Rest in Peace, Kobe. Thank you for the sacrifices you made, and the example that you left us with.