I really don’t like the New England Patriots, but I love Tom Brady.
If you break “Tawmmy” down bit by bit, there is a lot to like — looks, grit, focus, fire, charisma, confidence, championships. However, what endears me most to this monument of greatness are his fundamentals.
He just knows how to do his job. He is a master of his craft.
It does not matter if you throw a football, create marketing content, sell widgets, or help people with their coffee, if you have solid fundamentals that you carefully hone over time, you will always be good at what you do and you will always progress in your career.
Now, I’m no Tom Brady, but I have learned solid fundamentals. There are many you can focus on depending on what your craft is, but it’s always great to pick a fundamental, become the best that you can be at it, and then move on to the next one. Here are three fundamentals — applicable to ANYONE in the world of business — that have helped me shape a career I am very proud of.
Become a Good Writer
For a marketing and communications professional, this is a must. I argue, being able to express yourself in written word is a fundamental that is invaluable to ALL professionals. We live in a world that lives and dies by the written word. Email, texting, posting on social media – it’s all the outward expression of an inward idea through words on a page (or screen).
Being able to communicate your thoughts and ideas and make them easy to understand is a skill that will serve everyone in any position. We all have to “put it in writing” at some point in our professional lives. This is not just in formal settings. We do this every single day, so force yourself to be good at it.
Never write emails like you’re a junior high student sharing a baby Yoda meme with your friends. Write your emails like they are coming from the professional you believe you are. If you are well-written, then you will also be well-spoken. Take your time, edit yourself, take a step back, and re-write it the way it’s supposed to be written.
Learn How to Collaborate with Others
In the modern business world, you will find yourself in situations where you have to work together with other people who have different styles, different skill sets, and different agendas. Be the one who brings all of that together. I was lucky enough to learn in college how to do this by being involved in student activities. My three years as an officer in our student association helped learn how to work with others, how to discuss and refine ideas, and how to bring out the best in others (and myself).
Some simple ways to start with this is learn how to participate in and run a meeting. Keep it short, keep it light, and keep it moving. Take a genuine interest in the people you are working with and treat every one of them with respect and nobility. They are finding their way in this world too, so be a generous colleague — they WILL repay it in some way.
Be cordial yet firm. Have the courage to say what you KNOW needs to be said, but above all, do no harm. No one likes a jerk, and the days of the successful office bully have come and gone. If you build bridges not burn them, your work life will be much more fruitful.
Adapt to Change
If there is one thing that will remain a constant in your career, it’s change. It used to be that you find a career where you do the same thing for 25 years and then retire. This is now the exception, not the norm. People change, jobs change, companies change, and you must change too.
If you have a hard time adapting to change, you need to find a way to get over that REALLY quick. Look at changes in your career as learning opportunities, not as stumbling blocks. It’s a way to learn a new point of view, a new skill set, or a new way to operate. As you progress in your career, your leaders will also change. Some will be AMAZING, and some will be terrible, but you can learn from both. That is a magical education.
Learning to re-program and re-invent yourself is a skill that will take you to heights you never imagined. But it does take time. The only way to become good at adapting, is to actually go through change. When your career takes an unplanned turn, embrace it as one of the most valuable experiences you can gain in your life. It will add to your fundamental base and make you better for the next big turn.
Winning Super Bowls is not easy, and you have to be in an organization dedicated to excellence to do it. But the Patriots would not have won anything without Tom Brady. His fundamentals are unquestionable, and they are the tie that binds all those championships together. Your career will be a wild ride, but you can control a big part of it by how you show up, day after day. Get your fundamentals down, master your craft, and you’ll be the one hoisting the trophy —time after time.