This week, former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant sat down for an interview about his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, and offered his insight on the team’s young, inexperienced, developing talent. Bryant’s perspective was unique and interesting – like it often is – and I hope enlightening for anyone working to raise champion athletes and people of their own today. You can watch the 30-second clip by clicking here.
Kobe calls for patient impatience. I know what you're thinking...what the? Patient impatience? Yes, that's what he said. And as paradoxical as it may sound, there’s actually some valuable insight here for each of us today, talking about building the young, inexperienced, developing talent in our own lives. You may not have considered this concept – patient impatience – but as Kobe attests, it’s a requirement for building and developing greatness in any area of life. Raising a champion demands it; hopefully today you can see how.
When we’re talking about your son’s development, we could be talking about his physical talent – his speed, strength, or quickness, or the sport-specific skills that will help make him the very best player he can be, like ball-handling or footwork. We could also be talking about his mental talent – those internal skills and abilities that also need developing, those that separate the best from everyone else – his passion, his grit, his selflessness, or his courage, for example. It doesn’t matter whether you’re focused on developing him physically or mentally, the process of growth and improvement will require your patient impatience. It’s worth considering today if you have enough of each to really help your son become his very best.
Do you have the impatience required to raise a champion?
Getting better, in any area of life, requires your urgency. Kobe called it impatience – it’s the relentless pursuit of improvement and the expectation to grow and change for the better right now. Those young guys on the Lakers, Kobe says, need to get better now. You’ve got to see things the same way. In whatever areas you’ve determined your son needs to grow and improve, there’s got to be a sense of urgency involved. He’s got to get better now.
As a champion sports parent, you aren’t sitting back, relaxing, just hoping your son might somehow stumble across some improvement today. Instead, you’re relentlessly pursuing opportunities to develop him and cultivate his growth. You’re driven by more than some casual desire. It’s a need, burning inside you, that can’t accept missing out on those opportunities you know exist. You see clearly that your time to teach, train, and equip your son is short, and that this time and these opportunities are flying by. That’s why, as Kobe says, you know you have to push, push, push, push, push to get better now. It’s with that impatient mindset, the Laker legend says, that development happens.
I hope you’ll see that helping your son reach his full potential demands your impatience. You have to be urgent, restless, unsettled. Why? Because you know his improvement is possible today. You know it’s necessary today. And you know it can’t happen without you today. Yes, impatience is required. But impatience in and of itself isn’t enough. You’ll need more than just that.
Do you have the patience required to raise a champion?
Kobe emphasizes the idea of patient impatience because he understands the reality of any real growth process. He understands that no matter how much we want it, authentic improvement in any area doesn’t happen overnight. It’s long, slow, challenging work that usually happens one small step at a time. If your son’s champion-level status seems miles away today, then accepting the harsh reality of this long process can be difficult. Make no mistake, it is difficult; that’s why most people don’t do it.
Having patience means seeing the big picture. The urgency and impatience we talked about already is a requirement for improving right now, but if this moment is the only thing you can see and all you’ve chosen to care about, then you’re probably headed for disappointment. That’s because that relentless pursuit of improvement has only moved your boy one small step forward, and on its own, that one small step may not seem worth all the effort it took today to achieve it. Without some patience – and the perspective that comes with it – it might be easy to bail on the process.
But choosing to include patience – and the perspective that comes with it – allows you to see more than just that one small step he's taken today. The patience that comes with embracing the process allows you to see all those small steps he’s taken before today, and all those he’s got coming in his future. Sure that one small step today isn’t much on its own, but seven steps in a week is progress. And 30 steps in a month? That’s even better. With patient impatience, you can see that helping your son relentlessly pursue that one small step every day for a year would really change who he is and where he’s headed. That kind of growth in the life of your child is pretty fun to consider, isn’t it? It’s the perspective that comes with patient impatience that allows you to see the big picture, to embrace the process, and to persevere on the journey.
Patient impatience. This is the great paradox that Kobe described and the great challenge you face in raising a champion. Where does Kobe think adopting this mindset could take the Lakers? “That day will come,” he said. “These young players will grow, and then everybody will look up and marvel at the amount of talent we have.” The same, I think, can be said for the work you’re doing in the life of your boy.
I can assure you that living in this paradox won’t be easy or convenient. And it won’t be done perfectly, either, but it can be done if you’re conscious and intentional. Check in regularly to determine for yourself if you’re living with the urgency you need for today, and the patience required for the long haul. If you do, I think you’ll be happy with where that mindset takes you and your boy. Soon, you’ll see, his day will come. With your help, he’ll grow, and then everybody will look up and marvel at the amount of talent he has. When that happens, he’ll have his champion sports parent to thank.
Subscribe to The LENS Newsletter here.