What can you learn from Tom Brady, quarterback of the NFL Champion New England Patriots? Many of my readers are second act career professionals. In some cases, third or fourth career serial entrepreneurs. Every business they start requires a new set of skills to be acquired while they’re building their next great organization.
Like Tom Brady, entrepreneurs must be both agile and anticipatory in how they led their teams. Brady has been to nine Super Bowl games. What’s interesting is there are few team members who have been involved with all nine. Head coach Bill Belichick has been with him for all nine. We could talk about Bill and Tom, but I prefer to share their different strengths in separate articles. Whether you love them or hate them, entrepreneurs can learn so much from this dynamic duo.
Tom Brady is 41 years old. How is he capable of leading his team to championships when playing against defensive players half his age and twice his size? He would like to play to 45. Talk about someone who does not believe in aging in a typical sense. Tom Brady has continued to thrive because he is willing to do the work required to succeed. Many days, he’s the first one in and leaves at the very end of the day.
Tom Brady knows how much work it takes to win and does the work to make sure it happens. He listens to his body. When you reach a certain age, your body takes longer to recover. Great entrepreneurs and athletes know how to push their bodies to the limits and no farther. How many times have you pushed beyond your limits, only see things fall apart from your efforts? At 41, Tom Brady spends more time on physical flexibility and mental agility than on increasing his strength.
Tom Brady understands the value of the team. In his case, it includes his wife and children and their extended families. Tom is first to admit that during the season his family helps keep him focused on his goals. His children spend time with him at the stadium and at games. Do you bring your children to work? Could you?
Tom Brady’s other team, the Patriots see him a great leader on and off the field. He is part of their lives and helps them deal with the pressures of playing in a professional sport. Many of the people who played with him talk about how Tom helped them through a challenging personal event in their lives. How he was their cheerleader and friend when times were tough.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the value of the one person who is cheering for you when things are tough. For many, they are that person, that quarterback, who sees their teammates’ potential before they even know it themselves. They are great at cultivating strengths while finding ways to minimize errors and weaknesses.
Tom knows this because someone saw his value before anyone else did. He was the 199th pick in the draft. Other teams had 198 chances to pick him up, and no one else saw his potential. Most successful entrepreneurs I’ve worked with would not be considered first round draft picks at the beginning of their careers!
Over the years, Tom has evolved as a team leader. In the early years, he was more likely to go with a play the first time the coach suggested it. If it worked great! If not, he’d start changing the plays based on what he saw in front of him. As a field strategist, I’d define his strategy style as Ready, Fire, Aim, Fire again. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a game plan going in, it just means he’s looking for the results more than the process during the game. To win more you must adapt more quickly than your markets.
This week when the game plan was not working, he looked to other players on the field to help create a new strategy in real time. As entrepreneurs Steve Jobs worked very hard on his presentations for new products and services. He worked for many weeks to make sure the presentation was perfect. What made his presentation impressive was he knew how his audience was responding to his performance. Both Tom Brady and Steve Jobs understood the power to simplify ideas for others. Do you?
Finally, Tom Brady understands the power of grinding it out through challenging times. One of the things that all champions understand is that you won’t always be at your best. To win in the big games, you must be able to stay focused on the goal. You must be committed to executing every play to the best of your ability. Your team will follow your example.
Winning and having your best game don’t always go hand in hand. Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl. Tom had a game that some have described as his best Super Bowl performance. But the Patriots lost. They didn’t achieve their ultimate goal.
This year Tom Brady allowed his team to lead the way. His role was to lead when he had to and provide support when he could, on the field and off. He kept his teammates spirits high on the sidelines when they were struggling. Great entrepreneurs keep their teams positive and upbeat.
Everyone was expecting a high scoring game. The Patriots offense was sputtering! One of his receivers uncovered an opportunity that could be exploited, and they won. The Patriots did the same play three times in a row. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to keep going with what’s working at the critical times in their business.
What can we learn from this? Winning organizations keep themselves in the game. Their teams find ways to win against almost any odds. Over the years, I’ve seen good teams achieve great things by being the last to quit. When was the last time you challenged your team to take your performance to a different level and you won?
See you next week.