Learning from Kobe Bryant’s Career Faux Pas

Remember that time Kobe Bryant was a rapper? Yeah, neither do I. But we can’t argue with history, he certainly was a rapper at one point in his career. Let’s start from the beginning: In high school, aside from being a star basketball player, Kobe was in a rap group with friends. Group name? CHEIZAW (red flag #1, I can’t even pronounce that). Over time, he was starting to gain (some) recognition as a local battle rapper. Just before graduation, however, he was faced with a big decision – to go to college or directly into the NBA. As well all know: he chose the latter.

In June 1996, Kobe Bryant was a first-round draft pick to the Charlotte Hornets before being traded to the Lakers. At just 17 years old, he signed a $3.5 million contract and moved to California. Fast forward beyond his first couple of rookie years, Kobe decided to revisit his earlier passion – rap. In 1998, he went as far as to spend a few weeks living in president of Sony Entertainment, Steve Stoute’s, home. He recorded a few songs, did a few features and shows, then started working on a solo project. Eventually, his 2000 album release stalled and Sony dropped him from the label. Just like that, he returned with full focus on basketball. 20 years later, he’s retiring having won 5 championships with the Lakers and career earnings totaling nearly $700 million. Needless to say, thank God his “rap career” didn’t work out. Sure in hindsight things are much clearer, but there was obviously a time when Kobe (bless his heart) really wanted to be a rapper. And I’m sure if you think back, you can name a few things you thought you wanted to pursue, too.

The reality is that the signs are there; they’ve always been there and will continue to be there – until you decide to surrender to your greater calling. Now this is tricky, don’t get me wrong. We hear all the time how people like Michael Jordan (cut from his high school basketball team), Bill Gates, and Walt Disney were denied and considered failures. So how do you know when you’re experiencing a case of the Kobes or a case of the Jordans? The proof is in your blessings. You can focus your time on whatever you want, but if after you’ve continued to try and only see failure; it could be a sign that you’re headed in the wrong direction. So here’s how to ensure that you don’t keep investing in a rap career when you should be balling:

  • Give your passions a full-court press, i.e. try. Try really, really hard and give it several attempts. But know when to take that L and walk away.
  • Think about the most gratifying rewards you’ve received, ask yourself, “how can I win more of these?” Focus your energy on areas that you’ve seen some wins in.
  • Listen to your fans (some of them). There are people rooting for you in ways that you don’t even praise yourself. Sometimes, it’s easier for people on the outside to see our greatness before we do. If the crowd is cheering you on as being the GOAT, why on earth would you ignore them to pursue something that you’ve never been praised for?
  • Mind the business that pays you. $700 million, y’all. Hello somebody!

We’ll all test out some different routes, but the signs are there. Take some time to sit with your confusion but sit still long enough that you’ll be moved by whatever your heart tells you to do.

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