All playground, no principle.

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s most young jocks enjoyed Samuel Slater Junior High School (Pawtucket RI) for one reason and one reason only – the gym teacher!  He was as down to earth as any man can be.  We all looked at him as a mentor, NOT a school employee.  His office was always clouded in cigar smoke and that just made him more believable.  More approachable.  More real.  More human.  And for most kids – more cool.  There’s only one problem, as cool as he was, he was still “just” a gym teacher.

When I think of all the ways my life has been shaped, the gym teacher has never once made the list.  Sure I have some good memories of slinging dodge balls and stealing bases.  I often think of the most athletic kids and wonder why they never turned pro.  Gym class provided a chance to form friendships, laughter, and a few scrapes and bruises.  At the end of the day, you either loved or hated physical education – REGARDLESS of the teacher.

Gym class, like recess, mostly takes care of itself.  Kids love to run around and are able to find something active to engage in.  But what happens next?  Eventually, we all become adults.  Our taste buds enjoy the onslaught of flavors a prosperous country affords, and, if we aren’t careful, slowly expand our belt size to the circumference of a small planet. 

To sum it up: the gym teacher only provided a playground, not the principles!

Next time you encounter “eye candy” pay attention to your thoughts.  If you have graduated beyond the level of carnal appetites and passions – congratulations – but now what are you thinking?  Maybe you ponder something along these lines:

“I wish I looked like that!”

“They must have a lot of discipline.”

“I wonder how much time they spend in the gym.”

“I would like to know what kind of diet they are on.”

“I wonder how they stay motivated.”

“How long did it take to get a physique like that?”

You get the idea.  Not once in the history of mankind has anyone said in a fit of jealousy, “I wish I had their Junior High School gym teacher!”

THE CHALLENGE:  Get off your butt.  YOU ARE the gym teacher now.  YOU are the one who must dig deep and search from within to find the motivation necessary to master your pursuit.  YOU are responsible for your own destiny.  YOU, YOU, YOU… get out of your comfort zone and BE the thing you are thinking about.  Yes YOU!

DEFLATED PAY

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?