Feb 22 '17

Decision making lessons to be learned from Tom Brady

Sticking with the theme of the Super Bowl, we wanted to take a look at some decision making lessons that can be learned from Tom Brady.

Forbes author Erik Larson posits that—love him or hate him—Tom Brady can provide us all with some good examples of how to make better decisions at work. Larson first brings us back to the year 2000, when Tom Brady was in his rookie season for the Patriots, having completed one of three passes for six yards. Spergon Wynn, also a rookie that year, completed 2 of 5 passes for 15 yards for the Minnesota Vikings. If both players had quit after their first game, he said, they both could have bragged about having played in the NFL, while Wynn would have bene able to say he threw for more yards.

Most of the time, when it comes to making business decisions, people are like Brady and Wynne circa 2000, suggests Larson. We’ve been there before, once, and in many instances, we can speak with authority just because we’ve been there, while being able to convince others we know what we are talking about. However, facing a business decision just one time does not teach you much more than what can be learned from a quarterback’s first football game. In fact, the next time you face a similar decision, prior experience can actually be damaging, says Larson.

“When we say ‘I’ve faced this decision before’ after a single try, we’re saying a lot more about our overconfidence than the depth of our experience,” he wrote. This overconfidence means we are more likely to ignore new information, lose the benefit of a beginner’s mind, and achieve an unfavorable outcome.

Throughout the rest of the article, Larson compares the career trajectories of Brady and Wynne, and offers insight into how this lines up with decision making abilities.