In early January, Kobe Bryant got a note from a reporter at ESPN. She was working on a story about a moment in Lakers’ history and she wanted to feature Kobe in the story. It’s one of those requests that public figures get all the time. It’s part of their job—in fact, it’s kind of one of the things that attracted them to the job in the first place. To be in the news, to have people want to hear their opinion, to grow their brand.
How long would it have taken to answer the inquiry? Fifteen minutes? An hour? A few emails back and forth? Who knows. What we do know is how Kobe responded to it, and it’s a response made heartbreakingly sad but also deeply moving considering his tragic death just a few weeks later.
“Can’t right now,” Kobe messaged the reporter. “My girls are keeping me busy. Hit me up in a couple of weeks.”
How often do you have the discipline to send something like that? How strong are you at putting your family first? How good are your defenses against the endless requests, opportunities, impositions, and obligations that come with your work and with life? It’s so easy to let people steal your time, to let them take you away from the thing that is keeping you busy: your kids. Your family. Your private space.
Kobe Bryant, tragically, will not get any more time with his kids and they will not get any more time with him. Which is what makes that text he sent such a powerful reminder to us, a final feat of performance left there to inspire those of us continuing in the shadow of his death. Put your family first. Put your kids first. Say that you’re too busy. Say no.
Politely decline. You have other priorities.