All my life I have been fascinated by athletics; there was something about the thrill of competition that hooked me at an early age. This probably stems from being brought to the sporting events of my older brother and sister as a child. The struggle to fill the large shoes that they left, combined with the constant attempts to out-perform my twin brother made me very competitive early on.
As I grew older I developed a new appreciation for sports. This came in middle school, where after watching CBS’ 60 Minutes interviews with professional golfer, Tiger Woods and NFL quarterback, Tom Brady, I realized that it is no accident that they are as successful as they are. I learned that it takes more than a good gene pool, good coach and even more than a strong work ethic to be the best. While these traits are certainly helpful, they are not nearly as powerful as the desire to win, and then to maintain that success over and over again. Woods opened his interview with Ed Bradley by saying that if the two were playing cards, he wouldn’t just want to win, he would want to “kick his butt.” It is that need to win that allows him not only to win, but to maintain that level of excellence year after year. In his interview with Steve Kroft, Tom Brady echoes a similar sentiment. The interview was conducted in 2005 when he was fresh off of his third Super Bowl victory, yet he explains to Kroft that there is still more out there to prove. In a 2011 interview with ESPN, Brady explained in more detail what keeps him motivated, saying “I watch myself play and at times I still don’t think I’m very good. I always want to show that I’m the best quarterback for this team. I want to earn it every single day.” Though they may have been gifted with favorable physical traits, the strive for perfection that these two athletes possess is what truly set them apart from the competition.
Though my career in competitive athletics has been put on hold due to injury, I have continued to apply the lessons taught to me by Tiger Woods and Tom Brady. In high school I carried them over to academics, where the condition never to be satisfied with my performance has taken me to where I am now.
Here are the links to the interviews:
Tiger Woods on 60 Minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kotQfs6VpXQ
Tom Brady on 60 Minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHSfiKAtPzk (skip to 0:37. Interview ends at 3:03).
Brady with ESPN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWyV0gcjfPo (the quotes referenced can be seen at 47:00)
Watch these videos and tell me what you think. What does it take to be #1? Are there any other top athletes you know of with similar traits?