Whether or not you’re a New England Patriots fan, you have to acknowledge that Tom Brady is the GOAT. Even though the quarterback doesn’t like the “greatest of all time” label, winning six Super Bowl titles cements his position—at least until someone else beats his record.
Brady shares his diet and fitness routine in his 2017 book, The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. “The regimen I follow is a mix of Eastern and Western philosophies. Some of these principles have been around for thousands of years. My nutritional regimen may seem restrictive to some people, but to me it feels unnatural to eat any other way,” he writes.
While Brady is known for his disciplined approach to health, that’s only a sliver of his success story, says Molly Fletcher, author of the upcoming book The Energy Clock. “He places an equal emphasis on the need to stay mentally focused and connected,” says Fletcher, who spent two decades as one of only two female sports agents. “He understands that results aren’t an accident but a by-product of a conscious decision: Where will I focus my energy?”
“When you play professional sports . . . you subject yourself to a lot of criticism,” Brady said in an interview with Sports Illustrated reporter Peter King. “What I’ve learned from myself is, I don’t want to give my power away to other people by letting my own emotions be subjected to what their thoughts or opinions are. So if someone calls me something, that’s their problem. It’s not my problem. I’m not going to give away my power.”
Brady has mastered the art of managing his energy, says Fletcher. You may or may not want to mimic his diet, which includes avocado ice cream as a treat, but paying attention to how you spend your time can be just as powerful.
“Leaders sometimes wear being busy as a badge of honor,” says Fletcher. “What happens over time is that their personal lives can deteriorate. Instead, it’s vital to create a system that ensures you’re aligning your energy with what matters most.”
Do an energy audit
Fletcher suggests doing an energy audit and getting clear on what’s most important so you can set your “energy clock” to live with intentionality. Start by identifying what increases your energy and perks you up. Perhaps it’s coaching young employees, public speaking, or prospecting new business. Note personal tasks that give you energy, too, such as volunteering, running, or socializing with certain friends.
Then identify those things that are neutral, not giving you energy but not depleting it, either. This could be managing direct reports or serving on the company board. These are things you need to accomplish and should be done as efficiently as possible.
Finally, identify the things in your life that drain you, personally and professionally. Your list might include traveling for work, procedure changes, or a difficult relationship.
“All day, every day, our energy ebbs and flows, often without us realizing it,” says Fletcher. “The point of the energy audit is to become much more aware of what’s replenishing our energy and what’s depleting it. By doing that, we can then become more intentional about who and what we give our energy to.”
Setting your energy clock
Once you know what fuels or depletes you, color-code your calendar as a visual way to recognize how you are using your energy. Highlight those things that give you energy in green, use yellow for neutral, and red for tasks that drain.
“Look at the way your energy correlates to how you spend your time,” she says. “Look at your week, and get clear on how you are using your energy.”
The goal is to have mostly green. “Leaders who can control their time want to have 80% to 85% of their lives in green,” Fletcher says.
Don’t be discouraged if you see some yellow and red on your calendar; these tasks are often unavoidable. The trick is to surround them with green, Fletcher says. “One executive I know was going to an event that was a total green but it took a red-eye [flight] to get there, which was a red,” she says. “In this case, it would be important to surround the red-eye with green energy-filling tasks before and after, so that the red task doesn’t take you to a place that’s unhealthy.”
When you see too much red, it’s time to turn things down. In Fletcher’s work as a sports agent, she saw several rising stars who were given opportunities that turned into energy drainers, such as too many public appearances.
“As you have more opportunities to show up in the world, you have to be incredibly intentional about what you say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to so that you don’t look back and compromise what matters most,” she says. “One young baseball star I represented created the mindset ‘If I go out my rookie season and hit .300 and do what I know I can do, then everything will take care of itself.’ By eliminating distraction, he was able to execute his rookie season so that he didn’t look back with regrets.”
People who achieve a high level of success like Tom Brady most likely have done a good job of managing energy and aligning it with what matters most, says Fletcher.
“We live in a 24/7 world with stuff coming at us all the time,” she says. “From our inboxes to social media alerts and FOMO, we put value in moving the chains and executing. But giving energy away to what doesn’t matter is a mistake. My question is, What are you chasing? The world will determine where you get your energy if you don’t.”