Regardless what you think about him, Kobe Bryant was a kid with a dream who made his dream a reality. There’s a compelling story to be told about mindset and dreaming based on an interview Kobe shared with Dave Belasco and his students at the USC Performance Science Institute… 

At the beginning of their chat together, Dave asked Kobe a great question about his mental game. “We talk about mindset and beliefs. We talk about limiting beliefs as being the ceiling of your potential. How you think about yourself, whether positively or negatively – that’s probably what your potential is. How do you stretch your beliefs and make sure you are continually pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone and your capabilities?”

Kobe’s response was powerful…

“I just dream.”

“I have dreams, and dreams, they should be pure. I think a lot of times when we’re born into this world, we actually wind up going backwards. And it seems like the more we “mature,” the more “responsible” our dreams become, and the more governors we put on ourselves and our ability to dream and to reimagine. And it’s always a fight, for us parents and for you guys, to make sure that your dreams always stay pure. So it’s not a matter of pushing beyond your limitations or expectations. It’s really a matter of protecting your dreams, protecting your imagination. That’s really the key. And when you do that, the world just seems limitless.”

The idea of limiting beliefs, and the influence they have over what we can accomplish and how much we can grow, is worth paying attention to. Stop for a second, and think about something you always wished you could accomplish… Anything you grew up wanting to do… A goal you set but haven’t achieved yet… Now, get honest with yourself and ask this question. What do I believe about myself that is preventing me from achieving what I want?

The answers can come from a lot of different places. Here were some of mine…

“My parents weren’t wealthy enough. I come from a small town. They’re all smarter than me. I got a late start in life. I’m divorced. I experienced a personal reset at 40. There’s not enough money. There’s not enough time. There’s not enough of anything. I can’t.”

All lies.

And the worst part? I’m the liar. I fed that garbage to myself for years… until I started to dream again. 

Kobe was right. Our breakthroughs come when we allow ourselves to dream again, like when we were kids. When I was a kid in high school, I used to dream of running a creative agency. I skipped class and snuck into the computer lab and art studios every chance I had. I’d create logos for my business, design fake letterhead, and daydream about all the projects we’d do. I could see in my imagination the office we would have, the kind of work we would do, and the culture we would create. Every detail was vivid. 

When I was that age, my dreams weren’t “responsible.” I wasn’t worried about the “how.” How would we pay the bills, how would we find new clients, how would we keep up if we got too busy? There was never a moment where I feared lack or “not enough.” Those lies came later, as an adult when responsibility kicked in. As a kid in high school, no governors were holding me back. I just had my dreams. They were big, they were bold, and they were all possible.

Today, dreaming requires letting go of all those limiting beliefs and lies, opening up to the possibilities. Every morning before I roll out of bed, there’s a brief conversation that happens between me and me. I remind myself that I am strong. I remind myself of all the hard work I’ve already put in. I remind myself that I’m surrounded by people who want me to succeed. I remind myself that the lies are just lies, and that the only thing that can get in my way is me. I remind myself that I am God’s kid, and I have access to power and resources greater than I can ask or imagine. I spend some time dreaming and walking through the vivid pictures I’ve painted for myself of what perfect looks like – my dreams. 

And then I get to work.

The Takeaway

First, start to knock down the barriers that are holding you back, your limiting beliefs. Destroy the ones that are blatantly false, and for the ones that have some small amount of merit, start thinking about solutions and ways to overcome. Today’s your day to start dreaming again like you did when you were a kid. Let yourself drift for a moment and be a little irresponsible and disruptive in your thinking. Dream big, release yourself from the lies you’ve been telling yourself and allow yourself to go to that spot where all the possibilities live. Replace your “can’t” and “never” with “What if…” and “Why not?”

Keep Dreaming!

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– John Gamades