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Justin Wright

Monday Velocity - A Singular Focus

Published 3 months ago • 3 min read

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A Singular Focus

If you study the greats in any field, in any industry, and in any pursuit, you'll find that they often share a similar trait: they had a singular focus. Everything revolved around the goal, every action was geared towards achieving it. There was no plan B, no alternative path, no distraction.

Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are both legendary for their actions on and off the court. While both infamous in their own right, they greatly influenced each other's lives. Kobe often said that everything he had was because of Michael's influence and teaching. Michael was known as a fierce competitor, and this competition extended to absolutely everything, whether it was an NBA championship game or an exhibition on a small court.

While I don't want to document these stories in depth, I will link a podcast episode below that goes into some of the more notable ones. The key is, every decision they made was consistent with the end goal in mind. When asked to define winning in one word, Kobe famously answered, "everything."

Greatness requires sacrifice. That sacrifice comes in the form of all the other things you could be doing that have nothing to do with the goal. Nights out, parties, skipping practices, leaving work early -- the list goes on. These things are always enticing, but chasing short-term rewards makes it nearly impossible to achieve long-term goals. Michael was on the court training at 4, 5, or 6am whether he won or lost the day before. Kobe would call his trainer at all hours to work out, often in the middle of the night.

One can argue that these obsessions were unhealthy, but greatness also requires emptying the tank. If you don't want to put that much effort into something, it doesn't make you a bad person. But you also need to realize that if you aren't willing to do so, you probably don't really want that thing bad enough. If you aren't willing to sacrifice everything else, to go tunnel vision for your goals, they likely aren't important enough to you.

This is why so few people are truly "the best" at anything. Being the best is a lonely, painful road. It's a road that you inevitably must travel alone. If you truly want to be the best, if you want to succeed that badly, very few people will understand what drives you. You'll often be disappointed by the perceived lack of effort of those around you. You'll go through life hoping to one day find your equal.

That's why Kobe and Michael had so much respect for one another. They got along because they spoke the same language at the deepest parts of themselves. No one else understood the lengths that they would go to in order to be great.

So if you've set lofty goals, be honest with yourself. Do you have what it takes to be great? Are you willing to walk that path? If you aren't, that's okay! Just don't let your goals write checks that your efforts will never cash. This gap is the cause of disappointment and anxiety in many. Define what you're willing to work for and give it everything you've got. Just know that if you want to be the best, you're ultimately competing against those willing to sacrifice everything for that same goal.


Hit List

The best things I've encountered this week:

What I'm reading: "My dad once told me: 'By age 35, you should be smart enough to realize this.'" on Quora

I stumbled across this article in Sahil Bloom's newsletter and I thought it was a powerful list. My personal favorite: "No one will ever come save you. Your life is 100% your responsibility."

What I'm listening to: "Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant" on The Founders Podcast

This podcast episode was an excellent summary of some great stories surrounding these two legendary players. Many of the quotes and anecdotes come from two books written by Tim Grover, their former trainer. I forgot about many of these stories, but one of my favorites describes how Michael Jordan, in his 50's, was disappointed in the starters on the team he owned. He proceeded to take all their Nike gear (because he felt they didn't deserve it) and beat them in 5 on 5 with the bench just to prove a point.

What I'm also listening to: "Failure doesn't exist" by Kobe Bryant

This was a great interview clip with Kobe describing how failure is fake. Failure only exists if your story ends. If you take that failure and try again the next day, have you really failed? Failure teaches us many lessons as long as we carry on and continue forward.


Screenshot of the Week:


Quote of the Week:

"After all, greatness is not for everybody.”- Kobe Bryant


Let's work together

When you're ready, here are a few ways I can help you:

  1. Check out the latest episodes of my podcast 🎙
  2. Apply for 1-on-1 coaching 🏆
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Justin Wright

Former chemist, former pro athlete, and current film producer sharing the lessons I've learned along the way.

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