What If I Don’t Get the Same Shot?

What If I Don’t Get the Same Shot?

We all know the story of Tom Brady.

Drafted 199 in the 2000 NFL Draft, this unheralded quarterback went on to win seven Super Bowls and become the greatest of all-time.

This is not about that story – it’s about one much earlier in his career that perhaps you can relate to.

When Brady was a senior in high school, he made the decision to go play at Michigan in order to be the best, because in his mind, “you had to beat the best in order to become the best.”

He redshirted his freshman year, getting very few practice reps.

His second year he became third string on the depth chart, and despite not getting a ton of reps, he continued to do everything he could to improve. He was frustrated and was considering transferring back west to the Unversity of Cal. One day, he approached his head coach (Lloyd Carr) with a “what’s my role/position here?”

It was then his coach directly told him something he’s never forgotten.

“Brady, I want you to stop worrying about what all the other players are on our team are doing. All you do is focus on the starter, the second guy – you don’t worry about what you’re focused on. You came here to compete with the best, so do it.”

It was then that he set Brady up with a sports psychologist.

Things instantly improved right?

Not necessarily.

One day Brady was complaining to his sports psychologist about how it wasn’t fair. The starter would get 30-40 reps in practice, the backup would get 10-12, and he’d get two if he was lucky.

“Then why don’t you make those two the absolute best plays you can?,” his mentor responded.

Thrown off-guard, Brady decided to try it. As he shared recently, he started treating every play like it was a Super Bowl, running onto the field excited and ready to go.

Over time, his two practice reps became four, became eight, and eventually he got to compete with the senior Brian Griese for the job.

Then his third year happened – but not in the dynamic “become a superstar instantly” way you’re thinking.

Brady lost the starting job to Griese and played backup as the Michigan Wolverines went 12-0. The next year he gets excited to get his shot – as he said, “I’d paid my dues.”

But Michigan brings in a talented freshman named Drew Henson that Brady would continue to battle back & forth during his remaining time in Ann Arbor. It was this same mentality that helped Brady when he was fourth on the depth chart in New England just like it helped him when he ignited his historic career when he took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe.

Just focus on the next play and make it your best.

However, with each new obstacle in his path, Brady became obsessed about making the next rep, the next play, the next opportunity his best. He’d go all-in on the now, and then worry about things outside of his control later.

But how often do we do the opposite?

Put It in Play

It’s easy – and incredibly common – for people to allow what’s outside of their control determine what they do with what’s within it.

So you aren’t getting as many practice reps as another player? You can complain, you can go through the motions since “it’s just two plays,” or like Brady, you can learn to treat it like it’s the Super Bowl.

So you aren’t speaking in the ballroom like you want and instead are doing a small breakout? You can complain about it, you can ‘wing it’ during preparation because it’s not what you wanted, or you can come in and give those people the best presentation you ever have.

So your sales team doesn’t have the same resources as a competitor? You can complain about it, you can make excuses each time you lose a deal or go into a pitch believing it’s already lost, or you can rally behind being an underdog, embrace the opportunity and give every sales pitch your absolute best.

You always get to decide.

The opportunities we want – from starting quarterback to thriving business owner to that certain position in the org chart – come after we learn to maximize the moments we don’t necessarily want or are ideal.

It’s hard to get vastly better if you’re only getting two reps each practice, but if you give those two reps your best? Over time, you do get better – much more so than the person complaining about the same situation and then not giving their best.

Don’t allow tomorrow’s opportunities to slip away because you failed to make the most of the ones in front of you today.

Make your mindset one that says, “I’m going to compete every opportunity I’ve got to the best I can,” and know deep down, you’ll eventually get the shot you want.

And you’ll be ready for it.

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