top of page
  • Corey Mckernan

What we can learn from Tom Brady for a successful life

I'm well known for being a former AFL player at North Melbourne. When I’m approached by media, it’s usually something AFL related, specifically my old team, North Melbourne.

Some people know my love of golf. That Denis Pagan had to convince me to give up my golfing dreams to get me to try a training session for the North Melbourne Under 19s

Less people know my love for the NFL and that it's probably my favourite sport to watch. And, with this, Superbowl Sunday (Monday here in Australia) is one of my favourite sporting days.

With it being Superbowl Week and watching the incredible feats of Tom Brady making his 10th Superbowl at the age of 43, I decided to focus a recent Walk With Me Online discussion on Brady and what we can learn from him for a succesful life.

Below I detail some of the habits I believe that have made Brady so great over the last 20 years; ones you can learn from and incorporate into your every day life.

Be resilient & Do the hard work

Tom wasn't exactly the budding NFL superstar in College and started down the pecking order. He even hired a psychologist to deal with the stress of being the seventh-string Quarterback when he first arrived at University of Michigan.

It clearly helped. He eventually won the job as starting QB.

In 2000 he was famously drafted 199 by the New England Patriots. But he didn’t let his disappointment of being drafted late affect his determination to make it on to the field.

While he patiently waited in his position as back-up starter behind Drew Bledsoe, he worked hard to put everything in place for when his opportunity would arrive.

The lesson: Keep strong and focused, work hard and don’t let where you’re at now define your potential.

Make the most of any opportunity

Brady told his high school coach that if he ever got the chance to start, the Patriots would never go back (to Drew Bledsoe).

When Bledsoe was injured in 2001, Tom got his position as starting QB. And he was right, the Patriots never looked back.

A year later he won his first Superbowl ring.

The lesson: Even though it sometimes doesn’t feel like it, all the work – training, preparation, study, etc. – is preparing you for one single moment in time. Opportunities can be fleeting, and no matter how small it may appear, be ready and take it.

Personalising & Tailoring to your needs

Tom clearly has a willingness to do things others won’t. I recommend you check out the documentary Tom vs Time. In it he says: If you want to perform at the highest level, you have to prepare at the highest level mentally.

He also talks about his will-over-skill mindset and that he owes his success to being able to focus on his strengths

But his success is due to more than this. He dared to question the status quo.

Above I mentioned how he employed a psychologist at College – he seemed to know early that it was in his control to find people and resources tailored to what he needed to become successful. At the Patriots he enlisted his own trainer to do more of the training he needed to be better.

The lesson: Don’t leave it to others to wholly define the rules and resources for what’s best for you. Research and seek out additional support tailored to getting the best out of you.

Choosing Your Lifestyle & Habits

Brady’s meticulous in his habits and lifestyle.

He has a diet that few could follow. Avocado ice cream is a treat, and he even stays away from popular health foods like peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms.

In terms of preparation and training, Tom’s known to be flawless. In fact, former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who was known as one of the hardest trainers in the team, said Brady goaded him into working out earlier when he was greeted with a "Good afternoon!" at 6.30am from Brady. Tom had already been training an hour.

But this benchmark standard was positive for the Patriots, with Brady's teammates saying every practice was like a game because Brady was so intense.

The lesson: Brady believes there is no offseason, healthy lifestyle and habits are just a way of life. At 43 year’s old playing in the Superbowl, again… enough said.

Playing with purpose & Point to prove

While I’m not suggesting having a “chip on your shoulder” is a good approach to life, having a point to prove can be reframed to define your purpose and knowing what’s truly important.

For for all his confidence and bravado -- like telling Patriots’ CEO at the draft, “this is the best decision your franchise has ever made” -- it actually seems Brady has been driven by his mediocre start and self-doubts.

In an interview with Dax Shepard on Armchair Expert podcast he said:

I think there's always been doubts around what I could achieve... I always heard people say: He'll never do that... He'll never be a pro quarterback, certainly never be a starting quarterback.
I'd say I'm very motivated. I have a real strong fire that burns based on me never wanting to let myself down.

The lesson: Reframe negatives into purpose and have a self-belief that dismisses doubters. (But all this is nothing without the above hard work.)

Don’t settle

After winning six Superbowl rings with New England, it would be easy to settle with the success and retire. But it only lead to another challenge for Tom.

Moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and leading them to this year’s Superbowl has certainly cemented his legacy. One that can no longer be fully defined by Belichick (Patriots GM).

But this may not even be his true legacy. It may rather be raising the standards and expectation of the entire NFL organisation.

The lesson: It’s easy to settle for your current successes; you have nothing to lose. But you also have nothing to gain and learn. And you may never fully realise your potential.

Love What You Do

Overall, Tom Brady loves what he does.

The lesson: Find your passion and purpose and go for it!


Join Walk With Me Online live over Zoom every Tuesday at 7am and Thursday at 12.30pm. Find out more here.

bottom of page