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2017 – Raising The Bar


As with many of you, 2016 had its ups and it’s downs. The ups have become the highlight of my year, the moments I cherish and never want to forget. I thank those of you who were parts of those moments! As for the downs, I continue to learn from them. Life is a journey: your destination depends on your desire to learn, adapt, and continue pushing forward. No one said it would be easy, and it isn’t. Although my journey is still in it’s infancy, I am excited to begin to see the hints of the returns that will be coming as a result of the strong foundation that I have laid. The hard work is far from over, and 2017 is already shaping up to be filled with challenges and adventures aplenty.

Here’s to tackling the forces that stand in our way, to rising up against fear, and to making 2017 the best we have experienced!

#Goodbye2016 #PounceOn2017 #HappyNewYear #GoBiggerGoStronger

031

Well I made it!

 

After making a commitment to blog every day for 31 days after blogging continuously for 10 days as part Natalie Sisson’s 10 Day Freedom Blog Challenge, tonight marks day 31. It wasn’t the easiest challenge for me as there were many nights that I sat here wondering what on earth I was going to blog about. You would think that after spending an entire day doing multiple projects at work that I would have something to talk about here, but when the details of the projects are confidential, and when my brain is shot from a million things going on, there were days in which I just wanted to tap out and quit. I didn’t want to blog or write at all. Through the jumbled mess of thoughts that were running through my mind, on those nights there was only one semi-clear repeating thought that would come to me: “Get food and go to sleep!”

 

But yet I pushed on and I am glad that I did. I showed myself that I could still write, even if the quality wasn’t there as I wished it would be. I could write consistently and make it a daily habit (I was worried I would forget and totally ruin the challenge I set for myself). And I gained some interesting insights and feedback from friends along the way, especially from friends that I had not heard from in ages! It was great to (albeit briefly) reconnect with them!

 

So what happens now? I am taking a step back from daily blogging. Why?

 

This week has seen several key developments that are changing the landscape of my current job. I need to focus on action plans to ensure that I am prepared for future endeavors and opportunities. I also have a class I need to focus on so I can obtain some additional credentialing. With so much going on, I need to focus on those aspects as opposed to forcing myself not to leave this site until I have created content here.

 

When I do have an exciting story to tell, I will blog about it here. I do not want this blog to fade into oblivion. You can also reach me via the “Contact” page on this site, or hop over to Twitter and bug me there.

 

A lot is going to happen between now and the start of 2017. Hope to keep you posted! Until next time, keep smiling, keep kicking, and keep being awesome!

 

~R

030

I have a confession to make.

 

There’s something that I do that tends to scare people and makes some people worry about my mental stability. I genuinely appreciate the concerns that are expressed when individuals discover this, but I want to make the case tonight in defense of this action.

 

So what is it?

 

When I’m overwhelmed with this world and have too many thoughts racing through my mind that I become (metaphorically) paralyzed and I cannot focus on what I should do, I pause and imagine I am on my deathbed.

 

Yes you read that correctly: I imagine I am dying.

 

In that moment, I ask myself “What does the scene look like? Where am I? How old am I? How did I get to that moment? Who do I want by my side? Would they be sad to see me go? How will I be remembered? And if this was a movie, what would be the music that completes the story?”

 

Why do I do this? Too many times in life we read about individuals who are not ready to die but must face the inevitable sooner than they had hoped. It is from these moments that we hear stories of individuals lamenting that they lived their life with regret. They say “I don’t want to go because _____.” For some, their regret may be based upon something they haven’t said to someone that they wish they now had the time to say or to make amends. For others, it may be the wish to see a part of the world before they go, or to return to a place that shaped who they became as a person. And yet for some, it may be for not having the courage to take a leap of faith into the unknown.

 

These individuals meet death while being flustered. They realize they have been living a discontented, perhaps shallow life that only bitter regret knows.

 

I don’t want this. AT. ALL! Instead, I want to die in a glowing peace, without regrets, and with confidence knowing that I did the best with the cards that were dealt to me.

 

And so, I choose to be odd in how I live my life. Instead of looking directly forward, I choose to first start by looking backwards, from the end of my life. I ask myself the series of questions I mentioned earlier, not to bring down my spirits to a depressing state, but rather to lead up to this overall question:

“If I know how I want to die, then how do I need to live my life now so that I can get to that point in the future?”

 

Somewhere along the line, society set milestones for our lives and then associated an appropriate age that mankind should accomplish that feat. How old a child must be to begin attending school. How many years we make our children study in school before they can enter into the workforce. How old a normal young adult is when they graduate High School, University, or Graduate / Doctoral programs. How old a normal person is before they get married. How many years you must work before you are eligible for a job promotion. How old a normal person is when they buy a home, or when they decide to retire. The list goes on.

 

Here’s my beef: Why do we say and believe any of that? Why do we limit ourselves based upon time and construct barriers based solely on numbers? Why don’t we focus more on our abilities or strengths? Because the moment that we accept such presuppositions, we set ourselves up for failure, for a life full of regrets. We become complacent in thinking “Well I just have to wait until a certain amount of time goes by and then one night while I’m sleeping, something will magically change and I will be able to finally do / receive that one thing I’ve waited for.” And before we know it, the focus of our existence here in this world shifts to one of waiting.

 

I cannot accept that as the fate for my life. I’m present, I’m active, and I’m a doer. Looking backwards on my life allows me to keep a fresh perspective and greater focus on what I need to accomplish as I move forward in life to get to that moment. Anything that doesn’t align with the trajectory to get me to that point is wasteful and gets cut out.

 

This technique may not work for you. Regardless, I hope you are able to find what you need in order to live your life without any regrets.

 

~R

029

Stop. Listen. Think. Collaborate. Innovate. Create.

 

Rinse. Repeat.

 

That’s all I want to do for a career. To have a team that surrounds me and we can identify problems that exist and work together for process improvement and innovation to create a better product and a better world.

 

The question is: What do I have to do to land that kind of a job? What credentials do I need? A certain educational degree? A specific certification or professional license? A technical skill?

 

I need something that is always grabbing my attention. Asking me to do the same process repeatedly every week or month gets old after a while. I’m not saying it’s beneath me or bad to have that kind of work. I know it takes repetition to learn a new skill, and I’m more than happy to learn! What I am saying is that some people only want to do repetitive work because then they know everything that is coming down to them and they have no surprises. A routine is all they want to do. All the power to them, and I’m more than happy to help set them up to do that kind of work.

 

But not me. I want to innovate. I want to create. I want to have the influence and respect so that when I say “We should do this for process improvement,” others will buy in to the idea. I want to have the ability so that when I say “We need these resources or we need to create a team and hire new FTEs for this specific role / purpose”, that I am supported because the stakeholders believe in me that I will deliver a high quality product for them.

 

Innovation, creation, passion. That’s what I’m looking for. How do I land THAT kind of a job?

 

If you have feedback, I’d love to hear from you!

 

~R

028

How was my day?

 

I’ve got Eminem blaring on repeat, I’m wishing I had a kickboxing coach pushing me right now, and I’m rapping  while jabbing at the air. My blood is boiling, I feel like I could go running around the island all night, I feel like I could set a new personal best on the bench press. I’m hot, I’m worked up, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more driven to prove the haters wrong.

 

Tonight is an Eminem kind of night.

 

Today will define me. Today will lead me to be stronger. Today will lead me to better places. Today will show me that even in the toughest times, Tījī basara’ah. Today creates in me the stone cold stare straight in the eyes and not back down look that will never be forgotten. Today is when haters can make like bees with no stingers and drop dead. Because today, it’s the last. The last day of being the last. Ever. Period. Ever.

 

Because tonight, it’s still an Eminem kind of night.

 

Tonight, is the night where I come to peace with all that is holding me back. Tonight IS the night when stand and I finally say enough is enough. Tonight IS THE night where I stop being taken for granted. Tonight IS THE NIGHT where I stop doing nothing when I know I am right and have done nothing wrong. Tonight is the night when I say no more drama from now on. Tonight is the night where I stop being a mop pushed around in the slush. Tonight is the night when I bury what is a shell of my old self and I begin the transformation.

 

Because tonight is most certainly and will continue to be an Eminem kind of night.

 

Tomorrow, I start a new path. Tomorrow I prove my worth. Tomorrow I overcome. Because TOMORROW is no longer about me but it is about us. Tomorrow we show that strength in numbers unites against any one and can create a movement more powerful than any could imagine. Tomorrow we show that intellect is not something that is groomed or taken, it is innate. Tomorrow we show that masses will shout tījī tījī basara’ah basara’ah and one of our own will emerge. Tomorrow, we show our grit and determination for we will no longer be silent.

 

Why?

 

Because TONIGHT we all pick up our microphones and join Eminem in saying that tomorrow:

 

We’re raising the bar
We’d shoot for the moon but too busy gazing at stars
We feel amazing and We’re…

We’re not afraid (We’re not afraid)
To take a stand (to take a stand)
Everybody (everybody)
Come take our hands (come take our hands)
We’ll walk this road together, through the storm
Whatever weather, cold or warm
Just letting you know that you’re not alone
Holler if you feel like you’ve been down the same road (same road)

 

~R

 

027

I didn’t grow up in a household where my sister or I had choices on what we wanted to do. We were told what was expected of us, and only once we had completed those items were we allowed any free time to ourselves. The list of expectations were prioritized in the following way: 1) Daily music practice (60+ minutes), 2) Homework as needed to achieve A grades, 3) Chores around the house, 4) Swimming lessons, 5) Reading books & completing book reports, 6) No more than 1 hour of television on Monday – Friday and television only permitted on the weekends only after approval from parental units (was quite rare), 7) In bed by 8pm. NO exceptions. We also only had 1 computer in the house and it was only allowed for parents’ business use or if we had to use it for an academic related reason. Computer / video games were not allowed in our house. It may seem strict or quite sheltered, but it was all that I knew (more on that later).

 

My father grew up with a river for his backyard and boating / skiing a part of his blood. I grew up though in the middle of farm country USA (Wisconsin) where we didn’t have large lakes or bodies of water nearby. Nevertheless, my father insisted that my sister and I learn how to swim. We took all the swim lessons at the local YMCA that we could until we graduated from their entire swim program. The next step would’ve been to join the competitive swim team, but that required a significant time commitment that we simply didn’t have with our other higher tiered priorities of music and academics already eating up so much of our time. So my dad said “You’re taking lifeguarding classes so you know how to save people”. And so I did. I worked several summers that local YMCA as a lifeguard and taught swimming lessons as well.

 

Dad also made sure we were comfortable with water that wasn’t a swimming pool. I remember during the summer when I was 8 years old, we would drive 3 hours north to (very small) lakes so that my dad could throw me in the water and I could learn how to water-ski. I did more falling and drinking lake water that summer than I did drinking soda the previous 2 years combined. It wasn’t until the following summer when I was 9 years old that I finally got up on waterskiis! Every summer dad would set a new goal for me on the waterskiis: getting outside of the wake, cutting harder, skiing over rougher and rougher water. Eventually dad said “It’s time to start learning deep water slolam” and just like that, I could no longer use two skiis and was back in the water learning how to get up on only one ski. Once I conquered that, it was then time to learn how to do a dock jump (start on the dock, time it perfectly so when the boat takes off, you jump off the dock, into the water, and your forward momentum with the boat keeps you going). The goal was always to dock jump, do the mile loop, and ski up to the dock perfectly so that I could let go and glide right up to the dock, gracefully sit down on the dock (without getting splinters), and only have my ankles to mid shins wet. And yes, I learned how to do that. In fact when I lived with my Aunt in Washington, she wouldn’t let me go to school until I had gone for a ski run. She then also told me I had to learn how to drive the boats for the younger cousins and also how to wakeboard so I could teach the younger cousins (I was always better at skiing).

 

When I graduated from high school, my dad then said it was time for me to get certified in Scuba Diving. So I did, but I wasn’t happy with not being able to go deeper to wrecks. Two years later, I got my Advanced Open Water to allow me to do this. The serious scuba divers in my family then told me that if I wanted to travel the world with them to exotic dive sites, I first had to get my Rescue Diver license so that in case something went wrong with them (or myself), I would know what to do. And so in January 2015, I braved the cold California waters, “saved” my instructor (a 250+lb ex-Marine; I’m 5’6″ and 120 lbs), and earned by Rescue Diver license.

 

“Ok RICHARD, WHAT’S THE POINT!?”

 

Yesterday one of my work colleagues invited me to go sailing today. I have only been sailing once before (my college chem professor threw a graduation party for the graduating biochem / chem seniors where we all went out sailing around Long Beach). It was a fantastic time and I always wanted to get back into it.

 

Today we went sailing out to the sandbar where we cast anchor and swam / waded around for a few hours. The sandbar itself was popping with a bunch of other boats, and we did see turtles and a few large rays as well! Don’t ask me to provide a clear rundown of terminology used in sailing because I’m still learning what is another foreign language for me. BUT, if you put me back on that sailboat, I do know a few of the jobs and what to be looking for in the masts for optimal wind / power utilization. It was a great time and there might be a chance we try to form a racing team and start sailing more often.

 

But sailing today (both playing a supporting role and taking the helm / navigating for a period of time) reminded me of two things:

  1. I love water! No, I am not Michael Phelps and I probably couldn’t swim a mile in a stellar time, but I may have a part fish gene somewhere in my DNA.
  2. Yes it may have seemed that my parents were strict with us when we were growing up, and yes I wish I would’ve learned how to code / program when I was younger, but overall I’m thankful that my dad placed such high emphasis on the projects / tasks that he did. All of those activities have opened so many doors for me over the years, not only for hobbies and pleasure, but also for business networking and actual jobs. In fact as I am writing this, a director from a very successful and rapidly growing Arts foundation in Orlando that I used to be a part of texted me. In our conversation, he eventually said “You’re a true Renaissance man!” I laughed and reminded him that there are always campaigns seeking to crown the next “Most Interesting Man in the World“, and while that title might be something I aspire to, I have not officially launched that campaign. That isn’t the first time someone has used the “Renaissance man” compliment to describe me, and to me it does seem a bit unfair as I know I am not a subject matter expert in these areas / I have a lot of growth to achieve as there is so much more that I want to learn.

 

But despite all this, the point here is that my parents set me up to have the opportunity to keep expanding my horizons. That is one of the greatest gifts they have given me, and for that, I am extremely grateful!

 

Hope you all had a great weekend!

 

~R

026

Well tonight was a lesson in patience and staying positive.

 

Here in Hawaii, seeing the full moon rise is a popular activity among the locals. And on this side of the island, we have a great view over looking the ocean where we can see the moon rise between other islands.

 

I’ve actually had a few people at work giving me a bad time the past few months because they’ll walk into a meeting and say “Richard, did you see the full moon (or the harvest moon) last night?” Since I don’t live near the beach, my answer is always the same: “No”. More often than not, I’m busy reading or doing some sort of project / work. I’m trying hard to work my way back to the life I want. So is tracking the full moon even on my radar of things to think about? No, of course not!

 

That is until this past week we were in another meeting at work and I was again reminded that the full moon was this weekend. I knew I wouldn’t go see it on my own, so I turned to some colleagues and said “Want to go hike and see it this weekend?” They said yes, and then I totally forgot about it until my calendar reminded me of it this morning.

 

We met up at 5pm, hiked up to the lookout point, and started settling in for the photoshoot. Our first mistake is that we didn’t get up there soon enough and we missed the golden hour for sunset photos overlook the ocean. However, clouds began to roll in and we wouldn’t have had that great of photos anyways. As I was setting up my fossil DSLR (I need to get a new one; the thing is over 12 years old), I went to grab the memory card pack and realized it wasn’t in the bag. I looked in my camera and nope, no memory card in there either. Well shoot, so much for that! (I later realized I had taken out the case to download photos recently and had forgotten to put the case back into the camera bag. Such a noob thing to do ugh!). However, the wind also began to pick up, and before we knew it, more clouds had rolled in that were now blocking the moon. While the moon did rise, we weren’t able to get any good views of it due to the clouds.

 

But the lesson learned here: Nature (and Hawaii) isn’t always perfect. Tonight didn’t go at all how we had planned (which is a good thing because if it would’ve been a perfect night for photos and I couldn’t use my camera I would’ve been sick with myself). However, the hike isn’t long at all, and we have full moons every month. This just means we will go back and keep trying. That’s the allure of photography: you never know what kind of shots you’re going to get, how the lighting is going to be, how clear the ocean will be, etc. You simply have to keep trying, keep shooting, and eventually you will get that 1 in a million shot.

 

The same is true with life. We can try to make as many plans as we want, and while we can try to take into account almost every variable that we can think of, the truth is that there will always be something that doesn’t go according to plan and catches us by surprise. What defines us is our mental attitudes towards such changes and the prep work that we put in ahead of time. We may continue to be beaten down, but over time, our work ethic and preparations will shine through, and more opportunities will come our way. Our time will come, we will snatch that 1 in a million shot, and we will defy even our greatest critics.

 

For now, I am not disappointed because I actually need to go get my gear ready for tomorrow. I’ve been invited to go sailing with some friends from work and we will end up snorkeling a bit as well. Should be a great time!

 

Hope your Saturday was phenomenal!

 

~R

025

I’ve made it to Day 25! It’s surprising how fast this has flown by since I started blogging back in early September! In some ways, it has helped improve my writing. In other ways, it has been a drain as it takes time to write something everyday. This is especially true as I have another project that I really need to be working on, but I promised I would get through an additional month of blogging after the 10 Day Freedom Blog Challenge, and I intend to meet that goal!

 

I’ve decided I’m going to 31 days for blogging. 28 would be a cheating February move, and 30 is like doing pushups on your knees on memory foam. We’re doing the real deal: 31 or bust!

 

So with the countdown officially underway, what’s next? Am I abandoning blogging forever?

 

No, I’m not. But I will be moving away from daily blogs. I have a big license & certification that I really need to focus all out on and study for. Blogging is a great relaxer, but it eats way too much of my time that I need to spend studying. This is especially true when I don’t feel as though there is anything valuable that I can contribute to a dialogue or conversation, and so I spend a fair amount of time sitting and trying to find something to say. This bugs me as I take pride in the quality of work that I produce. I want it to be the best that I can produce EVERY SINGLE TIME!! But when I’m being forced to write something or create some new content every day, when most of my day is sucked up working at a confidential job where I cannot talk about my work, that doesn’t leave much time to find creativity or much to talk about since I can’t talk about it at all. I want to instead blog when I do have free time, when I do have something meaningful to say, when I can create better content for you, whoever you may be.

 

I reminded of my first job. I was about to enter junior high and my mom said I had to get a job that summer. So I landed a job working with a handyman / small construction & landscaping business. For two summers I worked for the guy, who was from the Caribbean and a joy to be around. He had stellar work ethic, a great sense of humor, and an eye for doing a job well. We did a variety of projects those years: residing houses, ripping up carpet and preparing the flooring for new carpet installs, re-roofing homes, installing new large appliances, and landscaping.

 

I specifically remember digging tracks in lawns to lay down bricks to surround pine trees and act as a berm. We didn’t have one of those fancy machines with a rotating saw blade that would cut into the ground and slice the grass nicely for us. No, we had shovels and machetes (yes actual machetes). We would slice the grass, begin to dig, and then place a brick in the track. If the brick didn’t match the exact height we wanted, we either had to fill in the track with more soil, compact it, level it out, and test the height again. Or, if the track wasn’t deep enough, we had to dig deeper until we reached the height we wanted.

 

If you’ve experienced summers in the Midwest, you know that not only will it get into the upper 80s and sometimes low 90s, but it gets hot and muggy as well. It’s the type of weather where you take an ice shower, put on a new change of clothes, walk outside and within minutes you’re back is dripping with sweat.

I remember working on installing this berm that covered the length of two house lots. With the sun broiling down, I would try to use the machete and dig the tracks faster, thinking that the faster I dug, the sooner I could go home and get out of the sun. No such luck. This is when Clinton taught me one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned: “Quality, not quantity,”he would always say in his laid back voice. At first, I could never understand him. I only saw hundreds of bricks in front of me that needed to have track dug, then leveled, then installed. I could only see the masses.

 

Clinton was able to see the art. Clinton knew that if we took our time and focused on quality, we would dig straighter lines and dig to the right depth sooner as opposed to constantly overshooting our targets and having to work backwards to fill in the soil, compact it, and re-level it. Clinton also knew that spending quality time with every brick eventually led to a greater understanding of how to dig the track, which did improve our overall time (because we knew what we were doing instead of guessing what we perhaps should do). Finally, Clinton also knew that the project was not one we could finish in one day, nor 3 days, nor a week. It would take time, it would take patience, and he was ok with that. I wasn’t. I was the exact opposite of all of that. I wanted to get done right away to get out of the heat. But because Clinton came to terms with the reality, he was more at peace with the work and stayed positive instead of letting morale drag us lower and lower, which would’ve reduced our speed and quality all together.

 

These were lessons that I had a hard time learning, but the more that Clinton said “Quality, not quantity”, the more that it began to sink in. I remember the day when we laid the last brick and completed the berm. I thought I would’ve been relieved to get out of there but the opposite was true. I was so proud of the quality of the work that we had produced! I had taken ownership of the project. I made it my own, and I couldn’t stop smiling when I saw how incredible our work looked like compared to the house next door who had “professionals” install it. I think I even went home, got my parents, and drove them past the house so that they could see the work and the shining red brick with trim that surrounded the beautiful evergreens.

 

Quality, not quantity.

 

I know that you need to produce quantity in order to improve your quality, but I don’t believe that is the issue here with my blog. I need to study first and foremost to allow myself to enhance my career. With career enhancements come greater opportunities, which allow for greater stories to be told which helps yield greater blog adventures.

 

So in a few days, I’ll be switching over to studying full time during my free time, and then if there is any free time or an exciting moment that I wish to share here on the blog, I will write a quality pieces about it then.

 

There are still 6 days left of daily blogs. We’ll see what content is created until then.

 

For now, be bold, be adventurous, and live a life of quality, not quantity.

 

~R

024 – The Black Mamba

This is Part II of a series in which I share how my favorite athlete Kobe Bryant has inspired me both on and off the court of my career. You can read Part I of the series here.

 

At the end of the 2005 – 2006 season, Kobe’s year came to a close after an excruciating exit when the Phoenix Suns came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Kobe’s mind-boggling season was one of the most dominant individual seasons for a shooting guard in league history (the 62 point game in 3 quarters vs Dallas, the 81 point game vs. Toronto, scored 45 points or more in 4 consecutive games, averaged 43.4 ppg for the month of January, and finished the season with 35.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.8 spg). Yet despite a season filled with personal highlights, Kobe still finished 4th in MVP voting, behind Lebron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and MVP winner Steve Nash.

 

It was then that Kobe decided he needed to reinvent his image. He did so by switching from number 08 to 24.

 

Why was this a big deal? Kobe’s official response was that 24 was the number he first wore in high school (before switching to 33) and he wanted to wear it again. When Kobe first arrived at the Lakers in 1996, 24 was claimed by George McCloud and No. 33 was retired by the Lakers for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe now had the chance to switch to 24. But there are other theories out there that suggest the number change found its purpose on a deeper level. Some say it was Kobe’s attempt to be one greater than 23 which belonged to Michael Jordan (who many consider to be the greatest to ever play the game). Others say it was a marketing scheme to boost new jersey sales.

 

But there’s one theory that I am more inclined to believe:

 

Kobe switched numbers to leave his past behind and create the opportunity for he alone to cement his future legacy.

 

Why would Kobe do this?

 

To start, there was the 2003 adulterous sexual encounter in Colorado that, although was dropped after the accuser refused to testify at trial, tainted Bryant’s reputation (both on and off the court) and cost him significantly in terminated endorsement deals and decreased jersey sales.

 

In addition, while wearing No. 08, Kobe was part of one of the most dominant 1-2 punch duos in NBA history. Both he and Shaq led the Lakers to become only the 5th team in NBA history to Three-Peat (win three championships in a row) during their championship runs from 2000 – 2002. No other professional sports team (in any league) has accomplished that feat since the Kobe & Shaq years. But all was not perfect in Hollywood as Kobe and Shaq began to feud. Kobe was viewed as the “Little Brother”, the young guy, the second fiddle to Shaq’s dominant rule. Kobe wasn’t happy with these titles, and who can blame him? During the 2001 playoffs (not season, PLAYOFFS), Kobe filled the stat sheets with 29.4. ppg, 7.3 rpg, 6.1 apg, and 1.6 spg, while shooting almost 47% from the field. These stats rivaled the best postseason stats that even Michael Jordan was able to muster during his prime!

 

By switching numbers, Kobe was able to put a powerful reboot on his career by giving himself a fresh look and a new identity. Gone were the days and the talk of Shaq’s Lakers. Kobe was letting the world know that he was no longer a role player for the Los Angeles Lakers, but instead he was THE STAR and the Lakers were HIS team! And along with a new number came a new nickname that instilled fear into coaches, players, and opposing fans throughout the league.

Kobe was reborn as #24: The Black Mamba.

 

Did it work?

 

In 2007, Kobe’s game continued to elevate. He would win the first of another 3 NBA All-Star MVPs (adding 2 more in 2009 as Co-MVP with former teammate Shaq and again in 2011). That year, Kobe also had a four game stretch where he scored 65 points, 50 points, 60 points, and 50 points, becoming only the 2nd player in NBA history to have 4 consecutive 50+ point games (second only to Wilt Chamberlain) and only the second Laker to score 50+ points in three straight games (which was also a feat that had not been accomplished in the NBA since Michael Jordan did it in 1987). Kobe would end the year with ten 50+ point games. TEN!

 

In 2008, the highlight reel dunks kept coming:

 

 

Kobe also became one of the first athletes to go viral when a video surfaced of him reportedly jumping over an Aston Martin:

 

 

In the middle of the season, the Lakers pulled off the greatest coup in NBA History by trading center Kwame Brown to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol.

 

Pau Gasol was the missing piece to complete the Lakers quest to contend for the NBA Championship. By the end of the regular season, Kobe (FINALLY) won the League MVP. The Lakers would make a deep playoff run, but ultimately, they fell short in the NBA Finals, losing to their arch-rivals the Boston Celtics in 6 Games.

 

That summer, Kobe then became the undisputed leader of the 2008 USA “Redeem Team” and led the USA to a Gold Medal over Spain.

 

Back home, Kobe would continue on with (then) record setting performances, such as his 61 point performance at Madison Square Gardens (check out his spin move at 5:17):

 

Kobe and Pau together would lead the Lakers to back to back championships in 2009 & 2010, during which Kobe would be named the NBA Finals MVP for both years.

 

Check out Kobe’s circus shot around Dwight Howard in Game 5 of the 2009 NBA Finals (at 4:45):

 

Lakers fans will remember the stress we endured while watching Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals play out in Los Angeles as the Lakers sought revenge over the Celtics for their 2009 Finals humiliation. (And who can forget Metta’s clutch 3 or his post-game presser “Kobe Passed me the ball!” line). Even after coming back from a 13 point deficit, the most iconic moment from the night was when Kobe ended up standing above the scorer’s table, flexing, and screaming with the roar of the crowd as confetti fell from the rafters and Kobe was again named Finals MVP (see 12:54 in this clip).

 

 

In 2011, Kobe was on a personal vendetta to prove his haters wrong and win not only his second Three-Peat, but his 6th NBA Championship. Although the quest would fall short, the year was still filled with many vintage Black Mamba moments:

 

In 2012, Kobe would score 30+ points in seven consecutive games, a feat that would become the longest streak in NBA history for players 34 and older. As the season wore on, the number of games where Kobe had 10+ assists a game increased, which led to a modified nickname of “Magic Mamba” in tribute to Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

 

In that same year, Nike also created a series of commercials entitled “Kobe System” as a promotional campaign for Kobe’s latest shoe release. The commercials featured celebrities from various industries across the world. Kobe truly had gone global:

 

During the summer of 2012, Kobe rejoined the USA Men’s Olympic Team and again led the team to another Gold Medal victory over Spain.

 

 

By 2013, the voice of the critics continued to grow louder, citing that Kobe was past his prime and the glory days of the Lakers had passed. Kobe had other ideas, and he began to carry the team on his shoulders towards the playoffs.

 

Feb 5, 2013: Kobe sends a message to the league that he not only will still take on a team’s center, but he’ll still posterize not one but TWO players simultaneously!

 

On March 3, 2013: Kobe again served up another posterizing slam dunk, this time over former Slam Dunk Champion Josh Smith:

 

March 6, 2013, Kobe led the charge as the Lakers overcame a 22 point deficit on the road to defeat the New Orleans Hornets. Kobe provided the exclamation point as the Lakers embarrassed the Hornets on a final inbounds pass, leading to a Kobe breakaway dunk (see 6:06):

 

A few days later on March 9, 2013, after once again falling into a major deficit and needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, Kobe could not be stopped.

 

And then it happened.

 

April 12, 2013

 

At home against the Golden State Warriors, with 3:08 left in the game, Kobe’s body finally gave way. After a season of extensive minutes and years of playing through the pain, while driving to the basket, Kobe’s left Achilles Tendon snapped. He immediately crumpled.

 

While many feared a torn achilles, no official diagnosis was given immediately during the game. Instead, Kobe had another Hall of Fame moment as he hobbled back to the free throw line and sank two free throws.

 

After the game and once the official diagnosis was released, the sports world was stunned. Not only because Kobe had experienced an injury that for many was career ending, but also because Kobe blew us away with his toughness. Who else in the world could tear their achilles and still sink two free throws like it’s no big deal!?

 

As the sports world began to rally around Kobe and offer him encouragement, Nike released a powerful ad entitled “You Showed Us”.

 

Kobe would shock the sports world by returning from his achilles injury on December 8, 2013, less than 8 months after the initial injury. However a few games later, Kobe would fracture his knee which again side-lined him. Kobe would be plagued by injuries over the next year, including a torn rotator-cuff.

 

After announcing his retirement at the end of the 2015 season, Kobe’s farewell tour began. Stadiums around the nation were packed, crowds sold out, all to see No. 24 play for one last time during his Hall of Fame Career.

 

Then on March 22, 2016, in one of his final post-game interviews with Inside The NBA, Shaq managed to shock Kobe one more time.

 

After commenting on his 20 point game that night, Shaq then turned the conversation to the Lakers’ final game of the season, a home game against the Utah Jazz. It was then when Shaq said (starting at 2:38):

“Kobe… Can you promise me one thing: I need 50 (from you) that night”.

To which Kobe just about falls out of his chair, laughs, and responds “No, absolutely not!”

 

And then, on April 13, 2016, in the final game of his illustrious Hall of Fame career, Kobe again proved Shaq wrong and put on one of the greatest farewell performances in the history of sports.

 

Kobe dropped 60:

 

He willed the Lakers to one final victory;

 

 

Kobe dropped 60 and walked away from the game as a winner, a legend, one of the greatest to ever play the game. In a fitting way, Kobe left the league the same way he entered it: at the free throw line.

 

Between the bookends of his career, Kobe went from the kid from Philly to the NBA’s 3rd All Time Leading Scorer. He won just about every title imaginable, and he rewrote many of the record books. More importantly, he defied the critics, even through his last game.

 

So what does Kobe’s career have to do with me?

 

Kobe taught me work ethic. He taught me age is only a number. He taught me how to be obsessive in the pursuit of my goals. He taught me having haters probably meant I was doing something right. He taught us how to be both a villain and a hero. He taught me what an incredible feeling it is to prove others wrong. Kobe taught me that excellence isn’t a phase, it’s daily habit. He taught me how to not shy away from pressure. He taught me how to never stop learning and instead demand perfection from myself. He taught me to stand up to demons: both my own and ones others try to throw my way. Kobe taught me that while others may count us out, nothing is over until the final whistle sounds. He taught me how to fall, but most importantly, how to get back up and continue fighting. He taught me the value in living in attack mode. He taught me that even in the most agonizing pain, every moment is a must-win. Kobe taught me that greatness is born from one thing: being relentless. Day in and day out, always be relentless.

 

Thank you Kobe for all that you have inspired me to become! The journey is not over. It is only beginning.

 

~R

 

P.S. Think I left something out regarding Kobe’s career? Comment and let me know!

023

I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Right now, I am GLOWING and I don’t know why.

 

After the day that I had at work, I have a handful of reasons to be upset, angry, and downright disgusted! I think I would also be justified for feeling helpless, hopeless, a failure, and so depressed that I could’ve walked into my room at 6pm, collapsed on the bed, and shed a few tears until I feel asleep.

 

But what I’m experiencing is the complete opposite of that! I feel like a million bucks! I feel as though I am with my family and cousins and we’re doing nothing but playing games and joking around with each other for days! I feel like I’ve spent the entire day with someone special and am on cloud 9.

 

Yet today is Wednesday, and yup, it’s big Mike’s day:

 

Which really means that I can’t even claim it’s the weekend and I get to go on crazy adventures! At work today, I didn’t get anywhere near finishing my wish list of tasks, but I am known for being a bit optimistic in my planning. In fact when I left today, I have one form that I am creating that is still giving me a puzzling error that I have yet to decipher.

 

So why am I so happy? I wish I could tell you! Perhaps it is the fact that although I didn’t get done the main personal projects that I wanted to accomplish, I did manage to make significant progress in getting other people setup with new software and tools to do the projects they have been wanting to do for quite some time! Perhaps my coworkers put some happy mix in my juice at work today haha! But in all seriousness, it feels great to just be happy! It can become a foreign feeling when I’m living on my own, focused on my career and getting to my next vacation when I can get back to the mainland. But this feeling is one, although is rare for me to have, is one that I cherish for the (seemingly) fleeting moments that I have it.

 

Hope you all are having a terrific day!

 

~R