How Good Do You Want to Be? : A Champion's Tips on How to Lead and Succeed at Work and in Life
He guided LSU to its first football championship in forty-five years. He turned down countless offers from professional teams to stay with the job he loves. Now Nick Saban reveals the secrets that will help you lead and succeed at work and in life.
Excellence doesn't happen overnight. It comes from hard work, consistency, the drive to be the best, and a passion for what you do. Few understand this better than Nick Saban, the hottest college football coach in the game. Now, in How Good Do You Want to Be?, Saban shares his winning philosophy for creating and inspiring success.
In more than three decades as a player and coach, Saban has learned much about life and leadership, both on the field and off. Working alongside some of the game's legends, including Super Bowl winner Bill Belichick and coaching legend Jerry Glanville, he saw firsthand how great leaders encourage greatness in others. In this candid, insightful guide, he shares such acquired wisdom as
* Organization, Organization, Organization
Create an environment where everybody knows his or her responsibilities-and each is responsible to the entire group.
* Motivate to Dominate
Understand the psychology of teams and individuals, and use that knowledge to breed success.
* No Other Way than Right
Practice ethics and values-and demand the same from your team.
* Look in the Mirror
Maintain an understanding of who you are by knowing your strengths and your weaknesses.
How Good Do You Want to Be? is more than the story of how Nick Saban motivates his staff and players to excel-it is also the memoir of one of America's most successful coaches. Filled with instructive anecdotes and illuminated by never-before-told stories of his life and career, this is a book that challenges and inspires us all to be our best.
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January 22, 2007
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Excerpt from How Good Do You Want to Be? by Nick Saban
The Making of Champions
The 2003 Season
Becoming a champion is not an easy process, and the 2003 season is a great example of how it is done. By focusing on what it takes to get there, and not on getting there, our LSU team was able to win the BCS national title. All along the way, we as coaches imparted ideas, philosophies, and practices that helped shape the team. The story of our championship is exciting, but just as important are the lessons we learned and taught along the way. To make sure these stand out, I've highlighted them for you.
Most people think that the Louisiana State University football team won the national championship on the night of January 4, 2004, at the Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. They believe that because we were the better team that night against Oklahoma--because we had better players making bigger plays and coaches making better moves--we won the championship. But I tend to disagree. I think we actually won the national title almost four hundred days earlier in Little Rock, Arkansas.
After we captured the Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship in 2001, expectations were obviously quite high in Baton Rouge for our 2002 squad. We were led by strong seniors, including Bradie James, and gifted underclassmen, including quarterbacks Matt Mauck and Marcus Randall and receivers Michael Clayton and Devery Henderson. We certainly were going to miss the seniors' abilities and leadership, but I thought we had a solid team, particularly on defense. I've been coaching the game long enough to know that, as defending SEC champions, we had a big red target on our back. We knew that every SEC game would be a war. And, boy, were we right.
Ranked #14 in the nation, we started off the season against #16 Virginia Tech in a nationally televised game in Blacksburg, in front of sixty-five thousand screaming fans. It was a difficult environment to play in, and we did nothing to help our cause. With eight first-time starters in the game, our inexperience showed early and often. Fumbles, interceptions, blocked punts, and penalties gave us little chance, and we trailed 24-0 before scoring in the fourth quarter. It was not a great start to the season. But we rebounded and defeated The Citadel and Miami of Ohio at home before winning our SEC opener against Mississippi State, 31-13. Our confidence was high and, after routing University of Louisiana--Lafayette the following week and dominating Florida 36-7 at Gainesville, we were a team to be reckoned with. Except for one thing. We had lost starting quarterback Matt Mauck to a broken foot in the Florida game. We managed to keep the winning streak going with a win over South Carolina. We were 6-1, atop the SEC and ranked #10 in the nation. But then we headed to Auburn.
We fumbled on our first play from scrimmage, and it didn't get much better from there. We turned the ball over five times and lost 31-7. The following week against Kentucky, we won only by virtue of the "Bluegrass Miracle," when Marcus Randall connected on a 75-yard Hail Mary to Devery Henderson on the last play of the game. Truth told, we probably should not have won. Alabama made sure there was no miracle the next week, soundly trouncing us at home, 31-0. After a fourth-quarter comeback against Ole Miss the following week, we were in a position to win the SEC West again and make a return trip to the SEC title game--if we could get past Arkansas in the season finale. With forty seconds left in the game, we led 20-14. The game was ours if we could simply stop Arkansas from a full-field drive. We couldn't. Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones threw the ball over the top of our prevent defense to Richard Smith for a 50-yard gain. A few plays later, he connected with receiver DeCori Birmingham on a 30-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left. The extra point was good, and the wind was officially kicked out of us.
In my opinion, that's when we began our march toward the national championship.
After the crushing loss to Arkansas, we all rededicated ourselves to the little things. The awful feeling of that last-second loss had an indelible impact on everyone in the LSU program. Never again would we squander a lead; never again would we be outplayed in the fourth quarter; never again would we be outworked any day of the year. It was then that the championship team was born.
Immediately after the Cotton Bowl loss to Texas, the coaches hit the road--recruiting like never before--and the players hit the weight room. They voluntarily worked out almost every day, often in large groups, well before the official off-season conditioning began. In February, in the first official team meeting before off-season conditioning began, I asked everyone in the room--players, coaches, managers--to close their eyes and think about how they'd felt just months earlier, in the moments after the Arkansas loss.