This Instagram Star Never Took a Day Off in Four Years — Until He Had a Life-Changing Pep Talk With Kobe Bryant

It took just two minutes for Kobe Bryant to change Omar Raja's perspective on burnout.

(Photo: Getty Images/Sean M. Haffey / Staff)

You can learn a lot from NBA legend Kobe Bryant — about athletic performance, resilience, grit, and achieving success. But the former L.A. Lakers star can also teach us a lot about the value of slowing down and how psychological performance plays a crucial role in your overall success. 

For Omar Raja, who created House of Highlights, an Instagram account that frames clips from sports games as funny and relatable narratives, a conversation with Bryant made him realize that burnout was not an issue to be taken lightly. On Thursday’s episode of Recode’s “Too Embarrassed to Ask” podcast, Raja spoke about the often-overlooked downsides of being a social media star. Lets start with the fact that it’s a lot of work. With just the help of his colleague Drew Corrigan, the two post multiple clips and sift through 500 direct messages each day. 

Since Raja created in the account in 2014, has already grown to nearly 10 million followers. But he hasn’t taken a day of vacation since then.

“I think in the beginning of 2018, I was getting burned out,” Raja told Recode’s Kurt Wagner. “And then somehow I ran into Kobe Bryant, who was promoting his new animated short film called Dear Basketball. I asked him, ‘When does the grind stop?’ He said, ‘Not until you’re six feet under.'”

Almost two minutes into the conversation, Bryant said, “But I still work as hard as I do now than when I was in the league.”

 “So many things are going on around us. We’re constantly taking selfies and pictures to post on Instagram that we don’t take the time to observe what’s going on within ourselves.” -Kobe Bryant

So how does he do it? Bryant, who was a guest teacher in Thrive Global’s e-course, credits sleep and meditation as his ultimate performance enhancers and weapons against burnout. “You really see a big difference,” Bryant says in the e-course. “I’ve always had such a hard time sleeping. I couldn’t figure out how to shut my eyes. And I thought, ‘why am I playing like crap?’ That’s when I came to the realization that I’m not 21 anymore, and the fact that I was sleeping two to three hours a night had something to do with it.”

Bryant is also big on meditation. “I meditate every morning for at least 10 to 15 minutes.” he says. “So many things are going on around us. We’re constantly taking selfies and pictures to post on Instagram that we don’t take the time to observe what’s going on within ourselves.”

Raja’s run-in with Bryant might have been one of the most impactful experiences in his life so far. “It was like a heart-to-heart moment. I never expected that,” he said. “And now I’m good.”

Listen to the full podcast below, or hear more from Kobe in Thrive Global’s e-course here.

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