Tom Brady and Gisele on the “ambition tax”

There’s trouble brewing in paradise.

The sacred union between a football legend and a super model is on the brink.


(For the record, I never EVER want to celebrate someone’s struggles. This essay is just a thought experiment and pure conjecture.)

First, I always wondered how Tom Brady (aka TB12) could hate strawberries so much.

Then, I couldn’t unsee this recent quote from TB12. Brady has made a ton of sacrifices to be the absolute GOAT at his craft:

“I haven’t had a Christmas in 23 years and I haven’t had a Thanksgiving in 23 years. I haven’t celebrated birthdays with people that I care about that are, you know, born from August to late January. And you know, I’m not able to be at funerals and I’m not able to be at weddings.

Again, no one (including TMZ and the NY Post) truly know what’s behind the rift.

But reading about these sacrifices made me reflect on my own life.

I’ve definitely made some sacrifices in the pursuit of my own ambition.

Nothing like those made by TB12. (For example, I eat strawberries.)

But have all my sacrifices been intentional? Or have I been getting swept up in something bigger and beyond my control?

Let’s ask some $10K Questions

What TB12 is presumably faced with is a series of competing commitments. Do I commit to being the best quarterback? Or do I commit to being the most dependable spouse/father/friend/son?

And while I’m always wary of “false dualities,” the reality of life is that sometimes you have to pick your trade-offs (for example, using even-over statements).

If you believe the tabloids, much of the strife results from TB12’s inability to retire from football. (And for the uninitiated, he once retired, only to un-retire a few months later.) Per TMZ:

Our sources say the sticking point for years has been that Gisele wanted Tom to get out of the game … and although she’s publicly talked about her fear he would develop CTE, she’s been very upset with his NFL schedule … which takes him around the country for 6 months out of the year. We’re told she simply hates it.

So I put myself in TB12’s cleats and came up with four questions I’d ask myself if I were in his position.

Question 1: Who am I without achievement?

As much as I try to avoid it, much of my self-worth is tied up in achievement.

It’s silly logic when you see it on paper, but it goes as follows.

Achieve more, you’re more worthy.

You’re more loved. You’re more seen. You’re more relevant.

This Gordian knot of identity makes it hard for me to take my foot off the gas pedal. And therefore, I push myself. Really hard sometimes.

Since TB12 is still at the top of his game, I can totally relate how it would be so hard for TB12 to walk away from this wellspring of self-worth.

Question 2: Is it hard to be ordinary?

I always enjoyed the section in US Weekly called Stars – They’re just like us!

You’d see a hungover Paris Hilton in an oversized hoodie trying to get a Venti Iced Coffee.

Or an unshaven Ben Affleck buying some Aquafina at Whole Foods.

It humanized these celebrities, who were more known for their Red Carpet game.

TB12 has walked into 60,000 person arenas where he is (50% of the time) revered, celebrated and deified.

Bringing it back to me, I too am a performer of sorts. I fill up 60 person Zoom Rooms and while I’m definitely not deified – people get excited about the things I have to say.

I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I didn’t enjoy that notoriety – and that it doesn’t nurture my (often-times fragile) ego.

Therefore, I wonder how I would feel if it were taken away from me.

Question 3: Who do I show up for?

Every day I reflect on a simple question:

Did the people I care about the most get my best energy?

First and foremost, this includes my wife and girls. But it extends to my family, friends, colleagues and community.

On many days, I find myself pulled into rabbit holes. It could be trying to close a sale. Or getting nervous about a launch. Or daydreaming about plans for growth.

Yes, occasionally the thought “I could sell RadReads one day,” crosses my mind and I start daydreaming about buying a house right on a surf break.

But it’s when I get too obsessed about future outcomes, that I start showing up poorly for the people I love the most.

Who does TB12 show up for? Who gets his best energy? Is it his teammates? His family? The coaches? The fans?

We’ll never know – but I empathize that the trade-offs must be extremely hard to make.

Question 4: When will I have enough?

Having enough. It seems so simple, yet is such a prickly concept.

If you struggle with the scarcity mindset, you’ll never feel like you have enough money.

If you want more free time, you’ll never actually outrun your own death.

If you play status games, there will always be someone with more status.

From an outside perspective, it seems like there’s very little left for TB12 to achieve.

I mean, look how long it takes to scroll his Career Records section on Wikipedia.

Again, this feels like a pretty comprehensive list. To the untrained eye it feels like he’s just padding the scoreboard at this point.

But let’s circle back to the lawyer striving to become a partner (and always misses their child’s recitals).

Or the creator looking to cross 7 figures (and sacrifices their health to do so).

Or the VC looking to raise their next fund (but has abandoned all their friendships).

Many of these individuals would be just fine if they just maintained the status quo.

But like TB12, we’re always looking for the next thing.

Which can blind us from what truly matters in the moment.

Editor’s Note: One of the primary questions in Supercharge Your Productivity is “Who am I, without achievement?” This question informs our ambition, how we love and where we derive our self-worth. You can purchase Instant Access to the course today AND get enrolled into our next live cohort in 2023.

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