Effective leaders know that an important part of creating thier culture is to establish artifacts that reflect their standards and represent who they are – in discipline, dedication, dress code, deportment, and more.
So imagine a young girl hooked on baseketball. Her father’s joy was taking her to watch the Lakers in action. At home, as she watched transfixed by the moves on the court, and spent the commercial breaks running to her front yard to mimic Kobe Bryant’s shots and passes. Undoubtedly, Diana Taurasi was on her way to a basketball career with the WMBA. Today, she is a 4-time Olympic Gold Medalist, a 3-time WMBA champion, 3-time NCAA champion, the WMBA’s All Time Leading Scorer, and was affectionately dubbed by Kobe as the “White Mamba.” Such a fitting legacy to a man whose wife (Vanessa) paid tribute to their family as, “…still the best team” (Bryant in ABC News, 2020, mins. 1:39:02-1:39:28; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW9pitIu8aw).
“those things with which we mark out territory: the decorations and art in a building; the furnishings and fittings; the styles of clothes that people wear; the types of desks;, offices and computers that they use – these are all artifacts that tell us, subtly about the environments we occupy or are in”(Clegg, Kornberger & Pitsis, 2011, p. 217).
And, Kobe Bryant’s skill and dedication to the game cultivated such artifacts in the “Mamba” culture, especially for one lanky teenager believing that she could be a Laker one day.
While discovering herself as a lanky teenager, Diana gained confidence through basketball because Kobe made it “okay to play with an edge that was borderline crazy. Early onset Mamba mentality was in full effect (CBS News, 2020, 1:27-1:48 mins.; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS276F36NDc). Meeting him at the 2008 Olympics reinforced everything that she had learned about Kobe from a distance. And his discipline, dedication, deportment and skill remain with her today, as every training session ends the same way with the Kobe game winner:
“3 hard dribbles going right, left foot plant pivot, swing right leg through, elevate, square up, follow through. Five in a row, I got to go home.”(CBS News, 2020, 2:06-2:38 mins.; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS276F36NDc).
After retiring from a professional basketball career, Kobe could have taken it easy and simply focused on his family, and his upcoming star in his daughter, Gianna. But, he had entered that Eriksonian psychosocial stage of Generativity vs. Stagnation. So, his constant thought was how to contribute more, how to coach better, how to improve himself and his team, even at the risk of making himself a nuisance to others.
Kobe not only coached Gianna, but he coached other young athletes and extended himself through the Mamba and Mambacita Foundation. And, his growing pool of successful female basketball players reveals his girls’ dad heart. According to Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon’s Senior Guard, he encouraged their difference and was giving her the same blueprint that he was giving Gigi. Kobe’s symbolic influence remains with her through his text messages, his books, and his coaching advice (PAC 12 Networks, 2020; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m3KoK-o-Fs).
Today, as we enter the Church season of Lent on this Ash Wednesday, we are thoughtful of Jesus’ journey to the Cross. We also think about the death of loved ones lost and the hope that we hold of being reunited with them someday. According to psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, all five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the process that helps us to live with the one we lost. “… But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief” (Kessler, 2020; https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/).
So, take all the time you need to heal. And, when you are strong enough reach a hand back to help someone else. To see more about artifacts in the Jamaican sporting legacy read “Journey to Gold” (Mitchell, 2016; http://www.indusedu.org/pdfs/IJRESS/IJRESS_876_93216.pdf) and reach out to a young person today with Dear Little Sister… or Dear Little Brother… at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .
One final song for the moment:
Josh Groban – You Raise Me Up (Official Music Video)