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Aspire to Inspire: Learning the Mamba Mentality for Every Day Greatness

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If you have a connection to sports, it is possible that you or your youth have heard of Mamba Mentality1. Never before has an athlete proposed a psychological framework that is so well known and so widely adopted. There is a considerable overlap between the process of thriving and the Mamba Mentality. In this post, I will explain how Black Mamba came to be and offer you a story of redemption. I also break down the Mamba Mentality and its framework, offering actionable steps so you, too, can embody and even teach greatness.

Black Mamba

First thing’s first, what is a black mamba? In its nature-made form, it is an extremely venomous snake. In its man-made form, it is Kobe Bean Bryant. In its symbolic representation, it is an untouchable, unwavering, invincible, dedicated person with stone-cold focus. The man who became known as The Black Mamba was a complex man, and his alter ego was created out of necessity. The name was birthed from inspiration after watching the Tarantino classic, Kill Bill, Volume 1. The year 2003 proved to be the darkest time for Kobe as accusations and charges (that were later dropped) of sexual assault arose. It was a time when the name “Kobe Bryant” incited hate on and off the court.

His is a Story of Redemption

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

Bryan Stevenson

I remember being profoundly struck by this quote the first time I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson2. I can’t help but connect this quote to the crossroads of Kobe’s life in 2003. Personal judgements aside, one cannot ignore the pivot he made during this time. Kobe admitted in his 2015 documentary, MUSE that he was not living in concordance to his values and lost sight of what was most important to him: his family3. The Mamba Mentality was created as a coping mechanism. Kobe—man, husband, and father—was dealing with challenges that left his future unknown. Confusion and uncertainty filled his minutes. What could have grown into debilitating anxiety was compartmentalized and channeled. Black Mamba—the Laker basketball player—was unstoppable, ruthless, and unyielding. The embodiment of Black Mamba became a fragmentation used to deal with emotional turmoil and still excel at his job. His pivot, and the 17 years that followed, is like a redemption story. The skin of the 2003 Kobe was shed to reveal the legend we have come to know today.

The Mamba Mentality

The Mamba Mentality is a psychological framework that, when executed, acts as a north star, guiding you towards extreme clarity and dedication to whatever your craft may be. I have broken down the processes and offered some tips on how you can adopt and teach this framework. What was born from a hashtag, became a mindset for athletes and non-athletes around the world. It became the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit, reminding one to focus on the process and trust in the hard work that is being put in. When taught, the Mamba Mentality is generally broken down into three components: (1) relentless hard work, (2) confidence in self and process, and (3) a never-ending pursuit of physical and mental growth.

“There is power in understanding the journey of others to help create your own.”

Kobe Bryant

Action Items

Figuring out what matters most and then focusing on it, developing a mantra, putting in hard work and dedication, having confidence in self and process, and dedication to daily growth are the guiding principles of the Mamba Mentality.

How do we figure out what matters most?

Doing a life values inventory can help you decide if you are making choices in your life that are aligned with your values4. Values are beliefs that influence people’s behaviors and decisions.

What do mantras do for us?

Mantras—whether spoken, whispered, chanted, or silently repeated—serve to focus our mind and act as a meditation tool5. What is your mantra this season of life? Ask the youth in your life what their mantra may be.

What does it look like to put in the hard work?

Did you know work ethic is a skill that can be developed6? How can you make choices that elongate your days? Are you maximizing the hours that you have and being efficient with your time? We have heard the stories of Kobe’s relentless work ethic. Take inventory of your time and see if you can maximize your hard work.

How do you build confidence?

Trust in the process, and trust in yourself. Be patient and don’t anticipate immediate gratification. Follow these tips to build your confidence7.

How do you set attainable goals?

Setting SMART goals is a great way to start making measurable change in your life8. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Learn how to determine your SMART goals here.

What does it mean to have a growth mindset?

A final component of the Mamba Mentality is a dedication to growing every day. This goes beyond physical growth and includes growing emotionally and spiritually every day9.

The essence of the Mamba Mentality is simple:

  1. Do better than you did yesterday.
  2. Push yourself to grow every day.
  3. Make life choices that are congruent with your values and goals
  4. Discard that which no longer serves you or may be getting in your way of excellence. Greatness does not come without sacrifice.

The Mamba Mentality is a means of thriving and contributing to the world beyond yourself. So, I ask you: are you living your life in lockstep with your greatest most audacious goals? Are you ready to take actionable steps and embody the Mamba Mentality? I hope you’ll say yes and join in on the movement that just may be Kobe’s most long-lasting contribution.


References

1. Bryant, K. (2018). The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. Boston, MA: MCD.

2. Stevenson, B. (2014). Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. New York :Spiegel & Grau.

3. Chopra, G. (Director). (2015). Kobe Bryant’s Muse [Motion picture]. United State: Dirty Robber.

4. Brown, D. & Crace, R.K. (1996). Life Values Inventory [Assessment]. Retrieved from https://bhmt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/BHMT_CC_Life-Values_Inventory.pdf

5. Wei, M. (2015, August 14). How Mantras Calm Your Mind. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-survival/201508/how-mantras-calm-your-mind

6. DeVenzio, D. (2017, January 12). Your Work Ethic Can Be Improved Significantly Over Time, Just Like Any Other Skill. Retrieved from https://pgcbasketball.com/blog/work-ethic-is-a-skill/

7. Mind Tools. (2018). Building Self Confidence: Preparing Yourself for Success. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/selfconf.html

8. University of California. (2017). SMART Goals: A How To Guide. Retrieved from https://www.ucop.edu/local-human-resources/_files/performance-appraisal/How%20to%20write%20SMART%20Goals%20v2.pdf

9. Dweck, C. (2016, January 13). What Having a Growth Mindset Actually Means. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means

10. Rashad, A. ‘Kobe: The Interview’ Kobe Bryant Full Sitdown With Ahmad Rashad [Video]. (2015, February 17). https://defpen.com/video-kobe-the-interview-kobe-bryant-full-sitdown-with-ahmad-rashad/

About the Author

Stephanie Trudeau

Stephanie Trudeau

Dr. Stephanie Trudeau is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Thrive Center for Human Development where she currently studies the intersection of spirituality and thriving. Trained as a Medical Family Therapist and Integrated Behavioral Health Researcher, her academic expertise utilizes a biopsychosocial-spiritual lens in order to examine illness and recovery across family and social systems. She has dedicated her clinical and scholarly career toward developing a deeper understanding how families cope in the face of adversity, trauma, and grief.

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