I love to read how successful people think about their lives. When I saw the below article with Arianna Huffington, Founder of The Huffington Post and Kobe Bryant, basketball player with the LA Lakers—I knew it would be good. And it was. Ms. Huffington’s book Thrive was one of my favorites I read last year and Kobe Bryant is the most competitive player in the NBA.
As usual, I have highlighted some key points below in the article. Here are some takeaways for me:
–Kobe sends cold emails and calls to meet people he wants to. How about that. Even Kobe Bryant cold calls.
–Kobe found his passion at age six—to play basketball. Arianna found hers in college. There is no time pressure to find what you are passionate about.
–Love the process…it’s way more important than the outcome.
–Being great in the clutch is knowing there is life after the big shot or moment. Why not take the shot?
Below, enjoy getting inside the head of a couple pretty successful people.
The Fantastic Life Rule #2: Be Crystal Clear on What You Want
Finding your passion is not always easy. But once you do, that is the first step in finding success. Being certain about what you want makes it easier to set your goals on how to get there.
For Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant: First, Success. Then Sleep.
By PHILIP GALANES
SEPT. 26, 2014
Kobe Bryant, the basketball star, and Arianna Huffington, the media executive, at lunch in Santa Ana, Calif.
Amy Dickerson for The New York Times
They may have seemed an unlikely pair, but it didn’t take long for Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star, and Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor in chief of theHuffington Post Media Group, to develop the easy familiarity of old pals. Soon after Ms. Huffington, 64, arrived at Antonello Ristorante in Santa Ana, Calif., Mr. Bryant, 36, walked in, speaking fluent Italian to the waiters who trailed in his wake.
“Kobe’s just showing off,” Ms. Huffington said with a smile. “But the accent is good, isn’t it?”
Mr. Bryant, an 18-year veteran of the N.B.A. and winner of five league championships (as well as the M.V.P. award in 2008), leaned down to kiss Ms. Huffington, whose latest book, “Thrive,” was a No. 1 best-seller. Over the next two hours (and a salad for Ms. Huffington and pappardelle for Mr. Bryant), the pair spoke candidly about their personal hardships and triumphs, the meditation that helps recharge them and the crucial difference between what we do and who we are.
‘I was an incredibly self-judgmental person, and I extended that to how I saw others.’ — Arianna Huffington
Amy Dickerson for The New York Times
PHILIP GALANES: I didn’t think you two knew each other. How did that happen?
KOBE BRYANT: I’m known for sending out cold emails. I love learning from people who take on giants and slay them. I wanted to know how Arianna did what she did, and why.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Kobe came to my house six months ago for tea. And the sweetest thing is that our housekeeper, who has seen lots of famous people — well, I’ve never seen her like that. There were tears.
PG: This may sound crazy, but the more I researched you, the more similarities I found.
KB: Doesn’t surprise me. No matter what industry you look at, people who do phenomenal things, there’s a common thread to them. I’ve always been curious about that, as a way to become a better basketball player.
PG: Everyone knows Arianna is Greek, but who knew you spent your childhood in Italy?
KB: My father [Joe (Jellybean) Bryant] played in the N.B.A. for eight years, then took his career abroad. So when I was 6, and my sisters were 7 and 8, he moved us to Italy. We spent eight years there.
PG: Strongest memory from your Mediterranean childhoods?
AH: Definitely the kitchen table. We lived in a one-room apartment in Athens. I remember endless meals where we talked about everything: our life, our fears, school. My mother believed if we didn’t eat every 20 minutes, something terrible would happen.
KB: For me, it was how sports shrink the world. When we moved, I didn’t speak a lick of Italian. And there weren’t many African-American kids running around. I was like a grain of pepper in a massive saltshaker. But I didn’t need to speak Italian to communicate on the court.
PG: Did your parents arrange the family around your talent?
AH: Not until I wanted to get into Cambridge at 14 or so.
PG: When your mother moves the family to England.
AH: She embraced my dream. Everybody said: “Don’t be ridiculous. You’re never getting in. You barely speak English. You have no money.” My mother said: “Let’s see what happens.” But she also made it O.K. if I failed.
KB: Italy was different. Kids could disappear all day and come back for dinner. I’d go to the park and play basketball. I don’t even know if my parents realized I was any good.
AH: When did the light go off?
KB: At this basketball camp, back in the States. I was 15 and about 120 pounds, soaking wet. I’m standing with my dad and the scouts knew him. And one tells my dad there’s a kid here who’s supposed to be really, really good, the No. 1 player in the world. His name is Kobe. And my dad says: “That’s my son!” And the scout grabs my arm and says, “You don’t look like no No. 1 player.”
PG: No pressure, right?
KB: Not from my family. I created the pressure. I found my passion early and — —
AH: How old were you then?
‘Michael Jackson tried to get me to meditate. He could sit in meditation for seven hours. But I couldn’t sit still for 20 minutes.’ — Kobe Bryant
Amy Dickerson for The New York Times
KB: Six. That’s when I knew. Come hell or high water, I’m doing this. Arianna, when did you know that writing and expressing yourself was your thing?
AH: At the Cambridge Union [its debating society]. But moving people’s hearts and minds was a spoken thing, first.
PG: And your first book, “The Female Woman,” grew out of a debate?
AH: I believed women should be given equal respect for whatever choice they make, whether to head a country or bring up children. Everybody agrees now, but when I wrote that book, in 1973, if a woman wasn’t going into the workplace and climbing the ladder, she was a loser. Wanting children was seen as social brainwashing.
PG: Arianna’s first book is a best seller, she’s 23. And at 18, Kobe goes straight to the N.B.A. and wins three championships in five years. Were you pinching yourselves?
KB: That’s what I was supposed to do. My heroes growing up, the Jordans, the Bill Russells, the Magic Johnsons, they all won multiple times. I wanted more. But it wasn’t just the result. It was the journey to get there.
PG: You like the process?
KB: I love the process. The result comes later.
AH: He talks the same way about getting back to the game after injuries: doing the research, collecting the team. Kobe found joy in rehab. That’s amazing because so many people are goal-oriented only.
PG: Like on your first book tour?
AH: I was 23 and on this international book tour. I’m in a hotel with Champagne on ice and chocolates and flowers, and I’m having a midlife crisis because I thought this was going to take a lifetime to achieve. I thought: Is that all there is? It started my spiritual journey.
KB: What hurts a lot of people, particularly famous people, is they start valuing themselves for “what” they are, the way the world sees them: writer, speaker, basketball player. And you start believing that what you are is who you are. There’s a big difference.
PG: Good point, but hard to remember when you’re 20, and playing with guys 10 years older.
KB: Oh, God. I was barking orders left and right. And these grown men are looking at me, like “Who the hell are you?” But I had studied the game so much. As I got older, I started understanding it’s not just about the game. People carry emotions with them. They have lives off the court. That helped me communicate better.
AH: I was an incredibly self-judgmental person, and I extended that to how I saw others. I had to learn to be more compassionate with myself, and not listen to what I call “the obnoxious” in my head. Kobe is amazing at shutting that out.
PG: The most amazing statistic about Kobe is a poll of N.B.A. general managers: “Who do you want to have the ball if the game is on the line?” Kobe — 10 years in a row.
KB: Let me tell you a story. My daughter just went back to school. She’s 11. She said: “Remember when I used to get nervous about math?” Her hands would get really clammy. I asked how she got over it. And she said: “I started thinking that once you take a math test, it’s done. I’m going to wake up the next day.” It may be a good day, it may be a bad one, but the cycle continues, no matter what happens on the math test.
PG: So being great in the clutch means knowing there’s a moment after the clutch?
KB: There’s an infinite groove. Whether you make the shot or miss it is inconsequential.
AH: You can learn and grow from the journey, no matter what happens.
‘My heroes growing up, the Jordans, the Bill Russells, the Magic Johnsons, they all won multiple times. I wanted more.’ — Kobe Bryant
Amy Dickerson for The New York Times
PG: You’re both chugging along, very successfully, then comes 2003: nasty speed bumps. Arianna runs a disastrous campaign for governor of California. Kobe is accused of sexual assault, which is never prosecuted. I thought you were both toast. But you came back even bigger than before. The Huffington Post is a huge global enterprise. Kobe sets scoring records, wins more titles, becomes a team leader. Did it take a crisis to make you greater?
AH: If you don’t internalize failure in a way that paralyzes you, it is very empowering. You say: “Hey, I failed. But I’m here, and I’m healthy, and my children love me and I have great friends. Life is ahead of me.” Suddenly, you’re willing to take even bigger risks.
KB: In 2003, I was going through the Colorado situation, and it was very tough. I had to ask myself what I wanted to accomplish. I want to keep my family together. Have to focus on that. I’m a good basketball player: I want more championships. Focus on that. Every endorsement I had, they dropped me. Every marketing person said, “You can’t be fixed.” So I start chopping the problem into smaller pieces, and I focus on them. What else are you going to do?
PG: Speaking of breaking things down, I noticed, reading “Thrive,” that the pillars of wellness must be second nature to athletes, who are all about peak performance. You meditate?
AH: Every day.
KB: [N.B.A. coach] Phil Jackson introduced me to it. When I was 18, Michael Jackson tried to get me to meditate. He could sit in meditation for seven hours. But I couldn’t sit still for 20 minutes.
PG: Michael Jackson?
KB: Yeah. “Thriller” Michael Jackson.
PG: When did Phil Jackson come along?
KB: His first season with the Lakers was when I was 21. And I dived right into meditation. I always knew the game carried a deeper meaning, more than X’s and O’s and strategy.
AH: Phil Jackson was a pioneer bringing this into sports. He helped give meditation, and other ways to renew ourselves, a legitimacy for businesspeople and macho guys, who tended to identify it with New Age-y, flaky stuff. Suddenly, meditation became performance enhancement, as well as part of the journey of discovery.
KB: It’s crazy to me that meditation is viewed as hokey. Just look at the people who’ve done phenomenal things. Do they meditate? Absolutely.
PG: What happens to the “obnoxious roommate” when you don’t meditate?
AH: I’m still a work in progress. But the “obnoxious roommate” now only makes guest appearances, and that’s a pretty big achievement for me. I try not to judge myself if I miss a meditation. Judgment creates the vicious cycle.
KB: When my “obnoxious roommate” knocks on the door in my head, I’ve found it’s better just to let him in. If you try to tune him out, he just bangs louder. If you let him in, he sits down, watches TV and shuts up. Know what I mean?
PG: Next up: Sleep. How much do you get?
KB: I’ve grown. I used to get by on three or four hours a night. I have a hard time shutting off my brain. But I’ve evolved. I’m up to six to eight hours now.
PG: What changed?
KB: Growing up and understanding the importance of shutting down and unwinding.
AH: Which is huge in a culture where people brag about how little sleep they get, like a macho thing: “Oh, I only need four hours.” And it coincides with the new science about the connections between sleep and health, cleaning out the toxins of the day, the connection between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s.
‘If you don’t internalize failure in a way that paralyzes you, it is very empowering.’ — Arianna Huffington
Amy Dickerson for The New York Times
PG: Sounds like a miracle drug.
AH: But I was one of the delusional ones. It wasn’t until my wake-up call of collapsing from exhaustion in 2007 that I started prioritizing sleep.
PG: Any sleep rituals?
AH: My transition is a hot bath and absolutely no devices. All phones and computers are escorted out of my bedroom at least an hour before bed. And real books that have nothing to do with work.
KB: I do the same thing. Hot shower.
PG: Are you as addicted to your smartphone as everyone else in America?
KB: Yep. But after the shower, the phone is off. You know the other major thing about sleep? It gives me more energy to spend time with my family and have fun with my kids. As I got more rest, I could work and come home — and become the human jungle gym again.
PG: It sounds as if you both get a lot of joy from your children.
AH: I feel unbelievably blessed to have my children. That doesn’t mean it’s been problem free. My younger daughter went through anorexia. My older daughter got involved in drugs, but she’s been sober now for two and a half years. And they both want to write about the problems they went through to help other children and families. Through it all, we’ve grown even closer.
KB: That connection is incredible.
PG: Let’s look to the future. Anything you still want to do?
AH: The great thing about The Huffington Post, everything I want to do, I do. I wrote “Thrive,” and it’s become a big part of our editorial content.
PG: I’ve read that you want to play for a couple more seasons, Kobe — 20 in all — then retire. Anything in mind for post-retirement?
KB: I’ve been thinking about that since I was 21. I had a great conversation with Giorgio Armani back then. He told me he started his company at age 40. It was a real wake-up call for me. “What are you going to do?”
PG: There’s your Showtime documentary, “Kobe’s Muse,” in November. What’s that?
KB: You’ll see all the things I do, on and off the court. Every little detail, every tidbit, every improvement. And from that, we peel back the layers to get to who I am — because you can’t understand what I do without understanding who I am.
PG: Sounds like a series.
KB: That’s the vision. I’m the first “Kobe’s Muse,” then we’ll build it out. I want to know how Arianna became Arianna. I had this conversation with Hilary Swank once, and I asked about acting. And she broke down her process all the way to what would the character be watching on TV, what music would she listen to, how much money in her purse, how much change. I’m so interested in all those details.
AH: People want to know those things.
PG: As a lens for understanding each other?
KB: Exactly. I’ll give you an example. When you watch me shoot my fadeaway jumper, you’ll notice my leg is always extended. I had problems making that shot in the past. It’s tough. So one day I’m watching the Discovery Channel and see a cheetah hunting. When the cheetah runs, its tail always gives it balance, even if it’s cutting a sharp angle. And that’s when I was like: My leg could be the tail, right?
AH: That’s amazing.
KB: Inspiration surrounds us.