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Success Leaves Clues

Since he first entered the NBA in 1996, Kobe Bryant has been compared to none other than the GOAT, Michael Jordan. The patented fadeaway, the fist pump, the killer mentality, it was as if Kobe was Michael Jordan 2.0. But this particular MJ wasn't Kobe's biggest mentor. The person who Kobe deemed as the "greatest influence" of his life was actually the King of Pop--Michael Jackson.

In a 2016 ESPN article, Kobe details the relationship he had with Michael Jackson. He explains how MJ reached out to him during the summer following his rookie year and offered him advice, insight and materials that Bryant would use to mold himself into one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Jackson explicitly told Bryant, "You've got to study all the greats. You've got to learn what made them successful and what made them unsuccessful."

And that's exactly what the self-proclaimed "thief" did. He became the quintessential student of the game. Kobe adapted Jerry West's quick release, studied Elgin Baylor's footwork, and stole Oscar Robertson's pump fake.

After a 33-point outing against the Chicago Bulls in December 1997, Michael Jordan approached Kobe after the game and told him that if he ever needed anything, to give him a call. The rest was history. According to Bryant, "speaking to MJ was like getting my own college education at the highest level."

Further heeding the advice of Jackson, Bryant would go on to reach out to, and build relationships with, other NBA greats including Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar--soaking up all the information and insight he could from these legends.


Pablo Picasso once said, "good artists borrow, great artists steal." I'll put money up that he took that line from someone else.

One of the greatest things about being alive at this point in history is that almost everything we aspire to accomplish has previously been done in some variation. Someone who has come before us has achieved the level of success that we aspire to attain and has left clues on how to go about doing it.

Unfortunately, we also live in a society where everyone wants to tout themselves as "self-made," making the claim that they've attained success all on their own, with no help. This rhetoric essentially discourages collaboration, limits the capacity for results, and devalues one of the greatest tools for success--mentorship.

In order to be an effective leader or a significant contributor to society, you have to be willing to heed the instruction and follow the example of those who came before you. There'd be no Denzel Washington if it wasn't for Sidney Poitier. There'd be no Barack Obama if it wasn't for the likes of Ab Mikva. There'd be no Martin Lawrence if it wasn't for Eddie Murphy. There'd be no Karate Kid if it wasn't for Mr. Miyagi. Okay, I took it a little too far with the last one, but you get it.

Seeking insight from and picking the brains of others who have proven track records of success are some of the greatest things you can do on your journey. You save time, energy, and money by following effective and efficient steps already outlined for you. You potentially avoid stumbling blocks or pitfalls that others have encountered by learning from their mistakes. Additionally, you build meaningful, ongoing relationships with people who can continually guide you in the right direction. Ultimately by studying success, you are improving your own likelihood of success.

Do you know how many times I've listened to speeches and talks, or read books and blogs and the same exact things have been said verbatim by different people? Too many times to count. And do you know how many times I've taken things from speakers, authors, actors, and athletes and incorporated them into my speeches and articles? Uh....just a few.

There is absolutely nothing new under the sun.

With that being said, seek out people who have done what you aspire to do. Forge relationships with those you wish to emulate. Some may be a phone call away. Some may be available for you to shadow at work. Some you may be able to message via email or through a social media platform. For others, you may have to just follow their example from afar through YouTube clips, articles, books, or interviews. (Will Smith, Les Brown, and Diddy are some of my mentors and I've only "met" them through social media posts, interviews, and YouTube.)

Whatever avenue is available to you, actively seek guidance from those who are where you want to be so that you can accomplish your goals in an efficient manner while building longstanding, beneficial relationships. There is no need to reinvent the wheel, just learn from those who have done it well. Wax on, wax off, Daniel-son.

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