Loyal Teammate or Pathological Liar?

“What I say versus what I think are two totally different things.” Tom Brady1

I was taken aback when I read that statement. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. That’s very sad and kind of scary was my first thought.

Why? was my second.

Okay, so I know all of you aren’t Tom Brady fans but bear with me here. Is he a liar or a loyal teammate?

This is how Brady explained that statement:

“It is sad … because it’s a challenging thing to do … But part of it is: You’re in a team. When you’re in a team, it’s not necessarily always what you think. It is kind of what ‘we’ think.”2

What ‘we’ think.

Does that sound familiar? It does to me. As a teammate in a corporate environment, I often had to talk about what ‘we’ think instead of my unfiltered private opinion.

When you are part of a team, an organization, there is always an aspect of ‘what we think’ involved. It can’t just be about one individual and their opinion, or it wouldn’t be much of a team.

And Tom Brady, no matter what else you think of him, has proved himself to be a loyal teammate.

To this day, he remains loyal to his New England coach, owner, and teammates by not disparaging them or criticizing them publicly, despite many opportunities and invitations to do just that.

Being a good teammate often means keeping your personal opinions to yourself, especially when talking to people outside of the team.

But that’s not being authentic, you might protest. It’s compromising your integrity!

Being authentic doesn’t mean sharing every thought that comes through your head, my friend. Even in the most intimate relationships, it’s a good idea to use discernment when it comes to sharing. What we share in public requires a lot more discernment.

To me, it comes down to the first principle The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, a book Tom Brady has openly professed to follow: “Be Impeccable with Your Word”.

To paraphrase Ruiz, one of the main aspects of being impeccable with your word means not gossiping, not spreading negative words about someone else.3

That’s an easy concept, but a hard one to follow. How easy is it to disparage a colleague or complain about a teammate? Certainly, the media often thrives on salacious gossip, and speculation about Brady’s relationships in New England is rampant.

By keeping negative or private communication to himself, even though he may be thinking it, Brady is being loyal to his team and impeccable with his word.*

So, my friend, I ask you. Are you a good teammate? I’m sure you are, but perhaps you and I can both be better ones.

I’m going to try to be more impeccable with my word this week. Will you join me?

*Important Note: If the team crosses a line into doing things that are unethical or illegal, your obligation is different. We can look at Frances Haugen or other whistleblowers as examples for those situations. When being a loyal teammate puts people outside the team at risk or regularly challenges your integrity, it’s time to question your loyalty to that team.

1From an episode of The Shop as quoted by the Wall Street Journal
2 The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2021.
31997. Ruiz, D.M. The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book. San Rafael, CA: Amber-Allen Publishing. (p. 37-38 paraphrased)

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