Before January 26, 2020, there were three events that I unquestionably remember where I was and what I was doing when they happened: the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, the infamous O.J. Simpson car chase in 1991 ( I witnessed it firsthand, standing on a bridge that spanned the 91 Freeway), and September 11, 2001.
A fourth event is one that impacts the way I approach my work.
I was born in the greater Los Angeles area, so I have always followed local sports teams. I wouldn’t consider myself a diehard Laker fan, but on January 26, 2020, a fourth event took place—one that no doubt rocked our nation and left millions of fans mourning the loss of their hero.
Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Without a doubt, it was devastating, obliterated the lives of everyone involved, and is a day that few will ever forget.
During his 20-season professional career, Kobe Bryant won many accolades: five NBA championships, 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), two-time NBA Finals MVP winner.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, he led the NBA in scoring twice and ranks fourth on the league’s all-time regular-season scoring and all-time postseason scoring lists.
Truly a basketball legend, he also holds the record for something that would surprise many: Career Field Goals Missed, with 14,481.
Yes, that is right. Kobe Bryant has missed more shots than any other player in the 74-year history of the NBA—and it’s not even close. The player with the second-most missed shots sits more than 1,000 below him.
Taking the Shot
As I think about the legacy that Kobe leaves behind, I remember something that NHL Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky once said:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
We hear this often in the entrepreneur world, especially in the context of starting a business. It’s something I think about often, as I have recently waded my way through many decisions while trying to mitigate their risk.
But one thing I know is this: nothing great comes without great sacrifice.
Just ask Carrie Underwood, a small-town girl from Checotah, Oklahoma. She had the courage to risk it all, won Season 4 of American Idol, and has sold more albums—nearly 17 million—than any other contestant.
Every day I am reminded of stories like this—stories of folks who put themselves out there, who tried something new, and who overcame a challenge they never thought they could overcome.
Then I think about my journey. It is the story of a guy who was a project manager at an architectural firm, taught himself how to code, design for WordPress, while building (and selling) a multi-million dollar company.
Did I mention that I studied climatology and geography in college, shortly before I failed miserably and dropped out with nothing to show for it?
So you lost a freelance client last week. You blew that audition the other day. Or maybe you whiffed on the chance to take your business to the next level.
You are not alone.
Over the years—and often—I fail miserably as a creator and entrepreneur. So I know how it feels. I have been there before. And I am sure to be there again.
I leave you with some words that I believe and hope they make a difference to you. They were spoken by famed New York Yankee, Babe Ruth:
“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”
So I issue a challenge with the following questions:
How about we learn from our mistakes? How about we keep going each time we fail? And how about we never give up and be the person who can’t be beaten?
I think we can do it. I believe we have what it takes. And I think we have the basketball, with two seconds left, and a chance to win the game.
A player like Kobe Bryant has to be pretty good to take 26,200 shots throughout their career.