A goat is a cute animal that will eat out of your hand at a petting zoo. It’s also a phrase used in sports to describe the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).

Michael Jordan is basketball’s GOAT. Wayne Gretzky gets the nod in ice hockey. Michael Phelps in swimming. And Serena Williams in women’s tennis.

It’s unclear and debatable in other sports. In men’s tennis, is it Djokovic, Nadal or Federer? In baseball, is it Babe Ruth, Willie Mays or Ted Williams? Golf comes down to Tiger Woods versus Jack Nicklaus.

In football, there is no debate: Tom Brady is the GOAT.

Super Bowls are what it’s about

Why? Two words. Super. Bowl. The winner of the Super Bowl is the champion of professional football. Tom Brady won it seven times. One player, a defender named Charles Haley, won five. Several others won four.

Brady also holds almost every career passing record — most touchdowns, most passing yards and most wins by a quarterback.

Fine, so Tom Brady is the best ever football player. Well, here’s the thing. It wasn’t supposed to be like that.

Brady was very good, not great early on

He was not a huge star in high school. Nor was he a huge star in college (University of Michigan). He was very good, but nowhere near GOAT-worthy.

He was drafted 199th (they only draft 257) out of college by the New England Patriots. Other quarterbacks you may have heard of — Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and John Elway — were all drafted #1.

So, how did Tom Brady do it? I think he captured it in this quote:

I Never Once in My Life Ever Said I Wanted to Be the Best of All Time. Ever. I Wanted to Be the Best I Could Be, Period. I Learned That in College. It Didn’t Matter What the Other Guys Were Doing. It Mattered What I Was Doing.”

I write extensively about advice and wisdom. This pearl from Tom Brady ranks right up there with the best.

Why? Because so many of us get caught up with what others are doing…or saying…or accomplishing.

He makes more money than I do. She sold more cars last quarter so she’s going to win the trip to Hawaii. He scrambles better in the pocket than I do (that’s a quarterback thing).

What’s wrong with this? It is absolutely, completely, 100 percent deleterious to our efforts.

Worrying about your peers is futile

All that energy worrying about what others are doing does all harm and no good. It prevents us from lasering our focus on playing football, selling cars or running our blog. And it hurts not just us, but the team, organization or corporation we’re part of.

My dad was a Fortune 500 CEO who worked his buns off throughout his career. When I graduated from college and entered the workforce in the political world of Washington, D.C., I remember him telling me, more than once:

“Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. And who makes how much money in the office and who gets the best assignments and all that crap. Just focus on doing your job the best that you can. Then let the chips fall where they may.”

It was fantastic advice that served me well, especially when I dove into the shark tank of the Hollywood entertainment writing world where jobs were scarce and people never felt secure in their employment status. I did my best to focus on creating good stories then writing them well. Period.

Job security is even more brutal when you’re an NFL quarterback. It’s the most important position on any team and it’s not even close. And there are only 32 teams so only 32 guys start at quarterback in the NFL.

Brady’s recipe for success

What did Tom Brady do in the face of those unlikely odds of success? He worked. He focused. He devoted 100 percent of his attention to becoming a better quarterback.

How? He did the usual things like studying playbooks and working on his passing form, etc. But he went further. Way further.

How? He went on a strict diet, called TB12 nowadays, that cut out almost all carbohydrates, dairy, sugar and alcohol.

[Sorry, but I have to do a quick digression for a joke from the great Johnny Carson. He told the story about a guy who gave up alcohol, sex and sweets. He said the guy was doing fantastic…up until the day he shot himself…Okay, back to the main event.]

Meditation calmed his mind

Brady also meditated. What better way to train your mind to relax under both physical and mental pressure?

What he didn’t do was allow his focus to stray to worrying about his quarterback competition. He simply worked his tail off to improve HIMSELF every day.

And then it happened. Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe got injured in game two of Brady’s second season. He was the next man up.

Was Brady ready? Did all the work on himself pay off? You bet it did: He was the starting quarterback for the Patriots for the next twenty years!

The takeaway

Think about all the energy we waste dwelling on what everybody else is doing instead of placing every ounce of attention we have on improving ourselves. I spend little time trying to analyze what Medium is doing or what others are writers are doing. Instead, I give my all to writing each article.

But I can still do better on blocking out all the “noise” as I’m sure most of you can. Give it some thought. You may find yourself shooting through the stratosphere in whatever endeavor you’re pursuing.

Let’s get kids doing this!

At the very least, it’s something we should teach our kids. Especially in this day of social media where kids constantly compare themselves to the beautiful, talented, funny, rich people with fantastic lives they see on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. Which only makes them feel like less.

I say we teach them to turn their focus inward and work on themselves in whatever interests them.

It’s how most successful people become successful. Just ask Tom Brady.