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Unleashing Tom Brady’s Unstoppable Drive: Why Traditional Team Motivation Strategies Fall Short

Motivate yourself like a super bowl champion.

Seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady is known for his intense dedication to his craft and his unwavering commitment to achieving success.

He motivates himself through a variety of methods, including setting goals, maintaining a positive mindset, and using his past failures as motivation to improve.

  • Setting goals. Brady motivates himself by setting goals and then working tirelessly to achieve them. He is constantly striving to improve his performance, and he uses each practice and game as an opportunity to get better. He says, “Do your best with the reps you get. Treat every play like game day. Learn to compete.”
  • A positive mindset. Brady stays focused and motivated even when facing challenges or setbacks. He is known for his ability to stay calm under pressure and to keep his teammates focused and motivated as well. He asks himself this question, “What am I going to prove to myself?” In Sam Walker’s book The Captain Class he wrote, “Off the field he remained private, even introverted. He declined interviews, guarded his sleep, and endorsed relatively few products. He never got in a speck of trouble with the law.”
  • Failing forward. Finally, Brady uses his past failures as motivation to improve. He has spoken openly about the losses and setbacks he has faced over the course of his career, and he uses these experiences as fuel to push himself to be the best he can be. “When new players came to the Patriots, they often spoke about how unusual the environment was… the coach liked to point out his star quarterback’s mistakes in front of everyone, then spend several minutes ripping him a new one. Just as strange was Brady’s reaction. He endured it… This public criticism showed that nobody, even the NFL’s golden boy, was bigger than the collective (The Captain Class).” 

Brady would later say, “I’m thankful for my competitors because they drove me to be my best.”

Do you feel the same way Tom does about competitors and learning from your mistakes? 

Maybe his highest motivation is when Brady says, “I’m motivated by not letting anyone down, not motivated by winning.The real joy is celebrating all these accomplishments with a team.”

Who wouldn’t want to have a team member like that?

What about motivating the team you lead and/or work with? 

I don’t think you can motivate someone who doesn’t want to be motivated. They show up just to collect a paycheck, do the minimum expected and aren’t curious about learning anything new. Don’t waste your time and energy with them.

What you can do is create the environment for the motivated to thrive and grow.

My decades of leading teams have taught me these are characteristics of highly motivational environments:

  1. Everyone is treated fairly and equitably.
  2. Individualized training when new technology is introduced.
  3. Turning mistakes into teachable moments.
  4. Creating (some) incentives based upon team performance.
  5. Intentional and effective onboarding process that asks for (honest) feedback.
  6. Full transparency – especially when bad news is delivered.
  7. Short, precise emails – and few of them.
  8. Mutual accountability – you lead the way in doing what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it.
  9. Staying out of the weeds – if you are the doing the same work as your colleague, one of you is not needed.
  10. Constantly improve your hiring practices, skills, and processes. Tom Brady was the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft. He was also the last member of the NFL draft class of 2000 to retire. Better draft picks will inspire your existing team.

Are you motivated yet?

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