Let's talk about Tom Brady. You might love him. You might hate him.

Either way, you can learn something important from him.

When he takes the field Sunday at age 41, leading the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl for the tenth time, he'll be the oldest player on his team by far. He's actually the oldest player in the NFL if you don't count kickers (and why would we?). 

We've talked before about the four words he says to every new player on the team--an uncomplicated, magic phrase that bridges the age and fame gap. 

But he also follows a simple habit that explains why Brady has been able to dominate for nearly two decades, even as age and injuries have driven most of his peers from the game.

(Worth remembering: Brady wasn't even sure he was even going to be drafted into the NFL; he once shared the very ordinary resume he wrote after he graduated from college.)

A lot has been made of Brady's controversial diet and exercise regimen, but that's more about slowing down weakness than maintaining dominance. This other practice is even more basic. It's that as he grows older and can count less on sheer athleticism, he studies data and adapts his strategy to fit the game.

A simple example: When Brady won his first championships in the early and mid-2000s, he was known for being willing to wait in the pocket and risk being hit hard by defenders, and for throwing long, laser-like passes.

But as The Wall Street Journal recently observed, as Brady grew older and had less of a rocket for an arm, he changed his game. 

Now he gets rid of the ball more quickly after the start of plays, and throws faster, shorter passes. He counts on doing it more often, and on receivers who are able to pick up more yards after they catch the ball.

Is adaptability the only reason he still wins? Of course not. One recent study suggested he wants to win badly enough that he's given up between $60 and $100 million over the course of his career, so that the Patriots could sign other great teammates.

And you might hope that in the modern era, most professional athletes would do exactly what Brady does: gather data, analyze, and adapt their strategy. But as you think about your competitors in business, do they all follow that practice religiously?

I'm willing to bet they don't. And that's why if you adopt the same kind of practice in whatever field you're in, you're likely to have a big advantage.

Here's what else I'm reading this morning:

Published on: Feb 1, 2019
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