The Death of a Legend


This month we have a special treat. Coach Greg Brown, formally the head coach at Nova Southeastern University and now hitting coordinator for the Tampa Bay Rays, shared with us this touching article that he wrote after the passing of Kobe Bryant. As a person who has taken great pride in developing leadership skills, Coach Brown is the perfect person to share this message. We are grateful he has agreed to let us share it with you. 



By Greg Brown-


In the wake of tragic loss of life, it is the survivors who are left to pick up the pieces, to question why, to mourn, to celebrate, and finally to heal.  We attempt to make sense of the senseless and we question our own beliefs.  So much of the good we see in the person or persons that left us too soon and empty are the voids in which they filled in our lives.


I was not a fan of Kobe Bryant but respected him.  However, like many of you am a lover of competition and I am especially a lover of greatness.  I am from South Florida and we had our own Kobe in Dwayne Wade.  Wade’s game was that of humility, sacrifice, and the desire to do whatever it took while often overshadowed by other stars.  I also grew up in a generation that idolized Michael Jordan as the GOAT and viewed Kobe from that prism.  But I must be honest that I am not a true fan of sports as I do not get caught up in the exhilaration of winning or losing unless I am wearing the uniform.  I have very little allegiance to rooting for teams, instead I have always been a fan of coaching and individual excellence.  I have tried to have perspective and use sports to develop my own coaching philosophies and perspectives to impact those around me.


I read the book Relentless by Tim Grover a couple of years ago and gained insight into Kobe’s training and was introduced into what is widely known as Mamba Mentality. It gave me perspective into the depths of his competitiveness and will to be the greatest basketball player to ever play.  He wanted to be better than MJ.  He wanted to be a greater Laker than Magic or Kareem.  He wanted to be a legend.


When the news broke of the helicopter crash that left nine people dead, including Kobe and his daughter Gigi, I found myself emotional in ways I could not have imagined. Remember, I am not a fan of Kobe Bryant. I am a D-Wade guy if anything. But why was I overcome?  Was it simply because we lost human life too soon? Was it the connection of being a #GirlDad?  Was it finding out that an impactful baseball coach and his family were also on board?


After much reflection, this is what I determined.  The talents of Kobe were undeniable and as his career evolved, we saw him evolve as a person, father, husband, teammate, and leader.  That is what I most respected, the evolution.  He was a flawed as we all are when we were young, but we saw his evolution happen very publicly.  Most of us are fortunate enough that we make mistakes without the scrutiny of the public eye.


We saw an immortal become mortal in this tragedy and what I think we lost was that even with the greatness that he exhibited on the court throughout his career, his next chapter of leadership and service was going to impact even more lives.  We wanted MJ to be the mentor, yet he always seemed to stay on the sideline when it came to social issues, player empowerment, and even taking the high road when he was being honored with his induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame.


Kobe became the leader that MJ wasn’t, and we saw this in full display in his relationship with his daughter Gigi.


Create Your Legacy


By impacting others, we strengthen the relationships that we have immediate contact with and that leads to impacting even more people through exponential growth.  One impact has a compounding effect and the more that we nurture that the deeper it will root which will then be transformational.


We do this by building the vision and culture and creating an environment that is authentic.  Where the virtues and pillars of the culture are on full display to set the standards and expectations to all that we encounter.


Here is an exercise to illustrate the way we impact others:


Part One

Focus on a mentor of yours.  How does it feel when they walk in the room?  What is their presence?  What impact do they make when connecting with others?  What are the nonverbal means of communication that furthers their connection?  What would be one word that you would use to describe that person?


Part Two

After focusing on your mentor, ask those same questions about yourself to a peer, subordinate, your significant other, and your mentor.  Now comes the hard part, before you receive their perception, write down your own answers about yourself.


Part Three

Then compare how you are perceived, how you perceive yourself, and then focus on how you would like to be perceived.  How can we grow from this exercise?  What have you learned?  Are you too hard on yourself or do you see yourself to favorably?


This exercise allows us to reflect and refocus our development as a leader.  It allows us to analyze our strengths and weaknesses and prescribe the intentional growth areas in the same way a doctor would when performing a physical.  The truth is that we must nurture and create the culture, but it starts with creating and nurturing ourselves so that we can make the greatest impact on others.  This was the greatest lesson I learned in leadership and it continues to serve me today as I invest in those around me.


I now know that the efficacy that Kobe had on my life was through the vulnerability that we saw in his greatest moments and his most vulnerable.  The legend became human even as he ascended to greatness and through his evolution, he became a legend.


No matter where you are at, no matter the fame, you can decide to evolve.  Seek information.  Be deep in your thoughts.  Manifest your best self.  While facing grave circumstances, the poet William Ernest Henley said in the poem “Invictus”, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”


Be the Master.  Be the Captain.


Take control and Create Your Legacy.


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