As a native “New Englanda” it was especially easy for me to watch the entirety of Tom Brady’s career unfold. Season after season I wanted to quit being a spectator of the sport, and not because I don’t love football – I do. Yet there is a longing to invest that time elsewhere. I have been unsuccessful at shaking the game (cheesy pun, I know), I just can’t help but watch someone who has mastered their craft. Even you haters out there can’t deny the fact that Tom’s records are unbelievable, and that’s not counting 6 super bowl wins. Just to list a few:
- Best touchdown to interception ratio in a single season: 28:2
- Most games won by a quarterback: 237
- Most Super Bowl appearances: 9
- Most Super Bowl MVP awards: 4
- Most passing yards in a Super Bowl: 505
- Most playoff wins: 30
- Most career passing yards, regular season and postseason: 81,683
- Most career passing touchdowns, regular season and postseason: 590
- Most Pro Bowl selections: 14 (tied)
While it is more important to master my own craft and set my own records, I always felt that there would be a lesson I could take away from the GOAT. The lesson I was looking for finally surfaced, “take a pay cut!”
There are a number of key elements that allowed Tom Brady to be so good for so long. It was a perfect storm. A perfect coach quarterback combination, a perfect competitor to get overlooked in the draft, a perfect time to enter the game as a starter, a perfect combination of winning teammates, a perfect division of teams that couldn’t sustain winning seasons, etc. etc.
Nobody knows for sure what would have happened if Tom left the Patriots to chase the money. My guess is some more winning. Why? Because winners win. However, I believe it would not have reached the level of success sustained with a single team, a single owner, and a single head coach.
Instead, Tom restructured his contracts multiple times leaving an estimated $60 million (low end) on the table. You might be thinking, “That’s easy to do when you are already financially free for life.” True, I’ll give you that. But is there a lesson here for us? What does a pay cut mean to you and me?
Remember the fly in the movie “A Bug’s Life?” He said it best, “I only got 24 hours to live and I aint gunna spend it here!” This is a lesson I haven’t fully learned. Mortality has an expiration date. If we were acutely aware of our limited time on earth, we’d be more judicious with our time. We would do what matters most. We’d be more than willing to take a pay cut.
Everyone (at one point or another) takes a pay cut, even if that point is death. But no matter how high you climb the corporate ladder, there is still room for growth. No matter how big you grow your business, you can still expand, or at least start another business. Whatever level people stop at, they accept a pay cut.
Once you’ve met the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter – how much more do you need? What would happen if you were more like Tom Brady and gave your special talent the “hometown discount?” How good can you get if you stop playing for money and start playing for the love of the game?
THE CHALLENGE: I understand in life you have to “Do what you have to do, so you can eventually do what you want to do.” If you’ve been in this position for awhile, maybe now is the time to go all in. If the promotion comes, take it…but don’t chase it. If you chase two rabbits, both will escape. If you only had 24 hours to live, would you take a pay cut? What records would you set? What statistics would your fans appreciate? How many times would you win the big game?