It is a sad day and an immense loss for the world to lose a star like Kobe Bryant. Though I am not a basketball fan, but the only few matches I have seen featured Kobe Bryant. And it was a pleasure as well as moments filled with awe seeing what he was able to achieve on the court. But after I saw a lot of articles, eulogies, posts shared about Kobe Bryant, one special letter penned by him struck chords with me. A letter he wrote to his younger self. A letter not only about financial prudence but about helping people. The letter has timeless words of wisdom which everyone can learn from.
Kobe Bryant on finances
Kobe Bryant signed his first pro basketball contract with Lakers in 1996. It was a contract that would pay $3.5 million over 3-years (Kobe was 17 at the time). He would go on to earn a record $680 million (roughly) over the course of his career.
His advice in a letter he wrote to his younger self was to INVEST in the future of your loved ones and not just GIVE. What he meant was that when one has money (and a lot of it), it is very easy to just give some of it to your family, friends or whoever matters to you. But one is not doing the right thing by handing out material things to your loved ones. By handing them out with money and all material comforts, you are actually holding them back. The most precious gift one can give their loved ones is of independence and growth. These are pearls of wisdom for parents who want to fulfil every wish their child has. And mind you this is what someone with $700 million thinks.
Help fulfil dreams not wishes
Wishes are short-term. They are like drugs, which give momentary happiness and then people go on to seek the next high. Fulfilling every wish your child has does them more harm than good. No matter how good an intent one has. But dreams, are much more a long-term thing. And ones dreams can’t be fulfilled by anyone other that themselves. What others can do is to just help or aid in achieving those dreams but the effort, discipline has to be ones own.
Following is what Kobe Bryant wrote about if you really want to help your loved ones:
Hold them to the same level of hard work and dedication that it took for you to get where you are now, and where you will eventually go.
Be a physiotherapist not the wheelchair
Let me take an analogy. Suppose, you are a very wealthy person (note I do not say rich, not yet). Your kid had a severe knee injury and is unable to walk. You are presented with two options: Option a) You can get him the most comfortable wheelchair in the world with 24 hour attendant and he shall not feel an iota of pain. Or Option b) You can take him to a physiotherapist who can make him undergo tough exercises that will be painful initially, but he would be able to walk normally on his own at the end of it. Which option will you choose?
I am assuming with all your mental faculties intact, you would chose option b). But why? Isn’t option a) great. After all your kid has all the comfort a 24-hour attendant while option b) is painful? The reason is with option b) the kid would be independent and if he can walk, the possibilities for him are endless. Possibilities that you can’t even imagine. He can become the fastest runner in the world and beat Usain Bolt’s record, who knows.
It is the same thing with fulfilling desires. Invest in your loved ones’ future rather than giving them handouts. Make sure you aid and facilitate their efforts but let them fulfil their goals and wishes themselves. And as Kobe Bryant said in his letter, “you will see them grow independently and have their own ambitions and their own lives, and your relationship with all of them will be much better as a result.”
In the end, I would like to say be rich, not just wealthy. Rest in Peace Black Mamba, this is a great loss for all of us.