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Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Kobe Bryant: A Man Who Knew What He Was…

Personally speaking, this past week was a very sad week with the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, John Altobelli, his wife Keri Altobelli, their daughter Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, her daughter Payton Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan. 

And while this accident would be sad in any event, that Kobe Bryant who was extremely well known was on that flight, it was all the more impactful. For a period of time, whether you were into the game of basketball or not (I was not) we grew up with him. So we experience the loss even more, especially if you had some insight into how Kobe Bryant lived in the world (that I did). 

Before I share this brief but no less powerful message, completely relevant to this week’s INSIGHT; I want to say, that I am grateful to have been influenced by this man, whose life was cut short way too early. Godspeed Kobe, and all of you who had so much to live for. 


This week, Arianna Huffington, on Thrive Global, talked about what she learned from Kobe

“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.”

I understand what Arianna meant when she wrote this point; and I would like to offer some additional insight around this message, which makes sense only when we are talking personally, in the world, using cultural references. But when we are actualizing a vision for our lives, as Kobe Bryant did so brilliantly in his own life, by listening to his calling and sticking to the vision he got for becoming one of the greatest basketball players ever and so much more; you realize that the “what” and “who” has a very different meaning. 

In brief: 

I know this needs more unpacking, but just get the idea for now… Arianna Huffington is right, there is a big difference between, what and who we are. 

What we are (spiritually, principally speaking) is the intelligent energy of the universe or the God force, or the unlimited power within, to create, etc. 

Who we are (personally speaking) is comprised of your values, beliefs, preferences, desires, etc… everything that makes you, “you” as a person/ality; but it’s also in part, what you do in the world as a human being–sports athlete, marketer, construction worker, etc. 

I’m asserting that the difference between what and who is clouded by the idea that when we speak it’s almost always divorced from the broader context of what is actually giving us our power. We often take credit, relate and communicate… personally, which is only part of our make up. But when you are aligned with the life force, and more importantly identified with this unlimited power within, like health, high-achieving people usually are (whether they are aware of it or not), greatness can ensue. 

I think Kobe when I read, listen and watch how he operated in the world, knew what he was, and was caught up in that; not just who he was. He worked hard to cultivate the what, through meditation and sleep, and the who by always expanding his awareness and development; and the byproduct of that effort, in a performance lifestyle that fully supported him and what he was up to in the world, was greatness. 

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