This is Not Going to Get the Best of Me: The Dance Between Kobe Bryant and a Giant Water Scorpion

Updated: Feb 29


Image via Hollywood Reporter

Opening YouTube the day after Kobe Bryant's shocking death had me facing a slew of videos newly in my recommendations that featured the former Laker; talk show interviews, basketball highlights, documentary clips, and motivational speeches. I scrolled through them all and despite the various sentimental options, I had a particular intrigue for the one called Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts.


The video was described as such: James [Corden], Kobe Bryant and Cara Delevingne sit down at a table full of stomach-turning delicacies, such as boiled duck feet and cricket tapenade toast, and take turns posing each other very personal questions leaving them with a choice: answer truthfully or eat whatever is in front of them.


My attraction to that video above all others was clear: I've always been squeamish and certainly terrified of bug-like critters. This is something I've spent a large portion of the last decade working to improve and I'm always looking for new insights on. So I thought maybe I could learn something from a Kobe Bryant -- known for his perseverance -- faced with the choice to either be compromisingly vulnerable on national TV, or eat something I wouldn't even want to be in the same room with much less put in my mouth.


It didn't disappoint.


Not only is the clip hilariously awkward, and not only does Kobe succumb to the pressure of admitting he thinks he was a better ball player than Michael Jordan (the stats can back this up depending on what you're looking for), I also walked away with one of the greatest pieces of motivation I've hit in a while.


Truth or Dare


It all started when Corden asked Kobe whether any celebrities had his phone number that he wish didn't. In true Kobe style, the answer began diplomatically and earnestly kind. "Not really, man" he said while mentally scrolling his contacts. And then it started to become clear that maybe he actually had someone in mind and wasn't even going to entertain the idea of saying it out loud. Either that, or he was just really eager to take a bite out of a giant water scorpion as the alternative. Which he did.


And as Kobe chewed this giant water scorpion, which just seconds earlier he said "smelled like shit," and which appeared to require Herculean jaw strength to gnaw and/or keep off his tongue, his face scrunched, his ears faded out the voices around him, and he declared "this is not going to get the best of me!" Then he took another bite, which he absolutely did not have to do, and everyone was horrified.


For the rest of the day, I felt haunted by the words Kobe muttered during that absurd game. Strange, considering he was well-known for his motivational speeches. And while I always found him inspiring (albeit frighteningly obsessive), it was the words he spoke with a water scorpion stuck in his teeth that really got me.


This is not Going to Get the Best of Me


It was certainly not my first time hearing the phrase, but I think it was my first time actually seeing it used as a tool. In the moment, Kobe was using that mentality (of the Mamba, perhaps -- I don't know for sure, I never read the book) to push through his obvious discomfort. It wasn't that eating this giant, gross, crunchy thing was easy for him -- he was disgusted -- but he pushed through deciding that he wouldn't let it stall him out.


And I started thinking about all of the things that have gotten the best of me, not just bug-like critters. I envisioned this best of me as some kind of bank account which stored my most precious emotional energy, and I reviewed how much of that account I spend on things that are totally not worth it.


Whether spurred on by anxiety, insecurities, fears of failure, or resentments where I don't have control, I often spend much of this emotional energy purging feelings, sorting thoughts, complaining, hesitating, negotiating, or trying to get out of things that feel to me the way eating a giant water scorpion seemed to have felt to Kobe.


And suddenly I was asking myself why. Why give the best of me to things I don't want, not leaving enough of the best of me for the things that matter? I asked this of myself urgently because while the best of me is an account that replenishes, it doesn't do so at the rate at which I realized I sometimes spend it.


Kobe's usage of this phrase helped me realize that the best of me is a natural resource that I have a history of mismanaging, one that needs some changes to its distribution. And if muttering the phrase in gross, trying, or painful situations is the reminder to take back the best of me so I can spend it on better things, then Kobe and that giant water scorpion gave me a gift. The gift, it seems, above all else, is the reminder of choice. And that the things I consume (information, ideologies, relationships, activities, life) don't have to consume me.

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