What All Executives Can Learn about Focus and Mindset
By Liz Bentley
Being a New Yorker, I have a hard time liking Tom Brady. But the truth be told – he is an extraordinary athlete and his talents cannot be ignored. In fact, they should be watched and replicated in workplaces everywhere.
And here’s why…
Tom Brady’s mindset gives him talent in the moment.
Every NFL quarterback has what Tom Brady has (e.g., the training, talent, diet, etc.) except for the one thing he’s doing better than everyone else – and that’s mastering his mindset to perfection.
Watching Tom Brady’s mindset in action is a sight to behold. He has an uncanny ability to channel all of his physical and emotional energy into driving successful outcomes at levels unlike others. He does this by focusing on HIS JOB ONLY and not anyone else’s. Simply put – he does not focus on anyone’s mistakes. Therefore, when his receiver turns left instead of right, Tom Brady doesn’t miss a beat. He stays in the zone and doesn’t think for even one glimmer of a second, ‘why did he screw that up?’ Instead he stays true to his mission, completing a pass any way he can get it done. You see, if even a flicker of that thought – the thought of someone’s mistake – went across his brain, his accuracy would be compromised, his success would be altered.
At this level of competition. to do what he does with such consistency and pressure, he has to have complete control of his mind and his emotions. His ability to concentrate has to be extraordinary. To be clear, it’s not about suppressing emotion; it’s about redirecting, channeling it into the job that needs to be done. It takes a lot of practice to get your mind to this level and it’s learned over time. Tom Brady works with many coaches, nutritionists and a guru to help him manage his energy and learn to perfect this skill. But even without the help of a staff, this can be learned by anyone who has the grit to do the work.
Mindset control is where peak performance lies and competitive advantage is achieved. In essence, it’s about directing emotions and keeping the mind focused.
Because his mindset is so good, everyone else rises too.
Because Tom Brady does this so well, everyone around him plays better, working in their strength center the way he does. The offensive line does a better job blocking so he can work his magic, while players make unbelievable catches with his precision and faith that they can get it done. The lack of blaming gives everyone needed space to succeed.
It’s the same thing with executives.
As executives, practicing mindset and directing our emotions into productive outcomes is critical to our success. Just like Tom Brady, our job is to focus on ourselves and make the adjustments we need to succeed. It’s not to spend time focusing on what everyone else is doing wrong around us.
We all suffer from this human condition: the tendency to center on others’ flaws instead of our own. So when we look at a problem, we lock into other people’s struggles instead of concentrating on our own. If we focused on ourselves instead, we’d have a much higher likelihood of solving the problem. Ultimately, we can’t fix anyone else, we can only fix ourselves. Similar to Tom Brady, the second we think about someone else’s mistake, our ability to succeed is compromised.
We coach people to get out of this habit and get out of judgment. We say, ‘yes, your boss may be tough, your team may be dysfunctional, but what are you doing to fix this problem?’ This mindset shift redirects their energy and gets them focused on themselves and their ability to create change. By stopping blame, we reduce our distraction and improve results.
Just like in athletics, peak performance in the workplace comes from disciplining your mindset and directing your emotions to focus on the right things. And just like on any team, when we get this right, everyone rises around us.
Tom Brady is an outlier and a great example of human behavior working at its best. Like him or not, he is an extraordinary talent to be explored and admired. Watch him on Sunday! Watch him expressionlessly sit on the bench waiting for his next moment, keeping his mind clear until it’s time for him to get up and do his job. And watch him do that job with unflappable composure and think about what it would take for you to become Tom Brady in your workplace.