When Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe went down in the second game of the season with a serious injury, a number 6 draft pick by the name of Tom Brady was tapped to fill the starting quarterback position. Bledsoe, the number 1 overall pick in the 1993 draft, was a four-time Pro Bowler with an amazing arm and tremendous career stats. But it was the personal attributes that Tom Brady exhibited, when fate gave him his chance, that can become life lessons for all of us.
Determination and Mental Toughness
If there are two attributes that define Tom Brady, it would have to be his unyielding determination, and his mental toughness under pressure. When he sets his mind on the goal, he never loses focus. In that first year, he led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. The fact that he was a 6th round draft pick never shaped his own view of his capabilities. Nor did it matter to him that he was only a back-up to Bledsoe.
But he wasn’t done after that first year. He went on to win four more Super Bowls after that, setting new records for himself, his coach and his teammates.
Super Bowl Fifty-One was perhaps the best example of his determination and mental toughness. Dropped balls and turn-overs piled up on Brady and his teammates. With his team behind 28 to 3, he still never accepted defeat as the outcome. He went on to deliver 31 unanswered points, throwing the Super Bowl into overtime for the first time in its history.
Those attributes of determination and mental toughness enabled him to overcome seemingly impossible odds, and to lead his team to yet a fifth, record-setting Super Bowl victory.
The lessons for us are simple: keep our eye on our goal, keep getting up when we’re knocked down, and have the mental toughness to listen only to our own inner voice. If we do these three things we are on our way to shaping our own unique destiny.
Hard Work, Humility, Gratitude and Appreciation
In the world of sports, professional athletes aren’t exactly known for being modest. We remember Mohammed Ali proclaiming over and over, “I’m the greatest!”
Brady seems to break that unbecoming mold. With tears in his eyes, he carries his children up onto the award podium at Super Bowl LI. Then, when asked whether he views himself as the greatest quarterback of all time, he deflects it and points out the hard work of his teammates and coaches.
After his fourth Super Bowl victory, Tom gave up the truck that he was awarded as MVP to Malcolm Butler, a rookie cornerback. Why? Because Brady recognized that with Butler’s first career interception, he had saved the game for the Pats. You could see Brady on the sideline jumping for joy when Butler picked off the pass from opposing quarterback, Russel Wilson. Brady committed that he was going to give Butler the truck, and then he figured out how to make that happen.
Hard work and humility can earn all of us a lot of respect in our own endeavors. If you’re a leader in a company, and you lead with these qualities, then you’ll be leading by setting the right example. Hard work and humility are incredibly infectious and people will jump at the chance to be on your team.
Showing gratitude and appreciation for team players is the icing on the cake. It’s the way great teams are built, and how we can inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Love What You Do
Brady loves what he does. Even after his fifth Super Bowl win, and a chance to go out on the top of his game, he says he’s coming back. Why? Because he loves the game. He’s 40 years old and wants to continue to play for as long as he can. Let’s hope he sets the record for being the oldest quarterback to ever win the Super Bowl. When you add a passion for what you do to all of the other six traits, you have an unbeatable formula for success.
So the seven life lessons from Tom Brady are to find what you love, and then sprinkle in a lot of determination, mental toughness, hard work, humility, gratitude and appreciation, and who knows what you could achieve in your lifetime. Here’s to your success.