What does Charlie Munger have in common with Kobe Bryant?
To those of you who do not follow basketball, Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketballers to ever grace the sport. His work ethic and desire to win were so great that they allowed him to transcend the sport itself. He is famously known as the "Black Mamba" and also coined the term "Mamba Mentality".
In Kobe's own words “Mamba mentality is a constant quest to find answers. It's that infinite curiosity to want to be better, to figure things out. Mamba mentality is you're going; you're competing, you're not worried about the result.”
As you may have guessed, the Mamba Mentality is not restricted to sports. In my opinion, one of the world's greatest investors, Charlie Munger shares that mentality with Kobe Bryant. This article attempts to touch on the same.
The importance of reading
Kobe did everything he could to improve his game. He even read the referee's handbook. As he mentions in his book The Mamba Mentality "One of the rules I gleaned from it was that each referee has a designated slot where he is supposed to be on the floor. If the ball, for instance, is in place W, referees X, Y, and Z each have an area on the court assigned to them. When they do that, it creates dead zones, areas on the floor where they can’t see certain things. I learned where those zones were, and I took advantage of them."
Charlie Munger seems to do the same. While he does not reads referee books he is no stranger to the importance of reading. As he said, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero".
Need to be curious
Basketball is a very physical sport and hence basketball players are no strangers to injuries. Ankle sprains and are one of the common problems that a basketballer has to deal with. Kobe had multiple ankle injuries and he wanted to improve the strength and flexibility of his ankle. His curiosity kicked in and he eventually realized that dancers seem to have incredible balance and rhythm. Sure enough, he ended up taking up tap dancing to improve his balance and strengthen his ankle.
Munger once said "Temperament alone won’t do it. You need a lot of curiosity for a long, long, time. You need to have a passionate interest in why things are happening. That cast of mind, kept over long periods, gradually improves your ability to focus on reality.”
Kobe is famous to go to extreme lengths to improve his game. There are numerous stories of Kobe being in the gym early morning, trying to get some shots in. Hard Work almost came naturally to Kobe. As he famously said "I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses."
Munger once said "It's not given to human beings to have such talent that they can just know everything about everything all the time. But it is given to human beings who work hard at it - who look and sift the world for a mispriced bet - that they can occasionally find one."
On Betting Big
Kobe Bryant was no stranger to taking big shots. 4th quarter was Kobe's quarter. Even if Kobe had a bad game, nobody was going to stop him from taking the last shot in a close game. As he said, "Everything negative -- pressure, challenges -- is all an opportunity for me to rise." Charlie too talks about betting big when he says “The wise ones bet heavily when the world offers them that opportunity. They bet big when they have the odds.”
Charlie Munger once said “Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Day by day, and at the end of the day if you live long enough-like most people, you will get out of life what you deserve.” That is the very essence of Mamba Mentality. You are missed, Kobe Bryant.