How Good Do You Want to Be?: A Champion’s Tips on How to Lead and Succeed at Work and in Life
by Nick Saban
I will readily admit that my favorite motivational books are written by coaches at the top of their profession. In order to achieve their goals they have to inspire assistants and athletes with their vision and direct their actions to achieve excellent results. In college football’s Southeastern Conference, one of the toughest conferences to achieve consistent success, Nick Saban has won both conference and national championships as head coach of LSU and the University of Alabama and enjoyed success in the National Football League.
How Good Do You Want To Be was written before Nick Saban became the coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide but it is obvious from his speeches and results at the University of Alabama that he adheres to the principles in this book. A central theme of the book, and his coaching philosophy, is to focus on what you need to do to perform as a champion and not the results themselves. While this might seem obvious, too often people focus on external factors they can’t control and make excuses for why they cannot be successful due to the economy, environment, their upbringing, or a hundred other reasons. As Saban notes regarding the LSU national championship team:
We never talked as a team or as a staff about championships. We simply focused on the process of becoming champions. p.12
Throughout the book he describes in great detail the importance of maintaining focus, discipline, and healthy communication. His focus on developing effective processes and working the system is critical to business or team success. His principles of leadership are evident in the successful careers of coaches who once served as his assistants. He, in turn, credits Bill Belichick, who wrote the forward to the book, for being a positive role model who helped shape his approach.
I appreciate his focus on success in one’s personal life as a component of overall success. If you have great professional success but leave a trail of broken relationships in your wake you have not succeeded. He practices what he preaches and provides sound guidance in this book for integrating work and personal life.
The book is very well organized and it is easy to highlight the important lessons to learn and the takeaway points. Each chapter ends with a summary of the main points that is useful as a review list.
In contrast to a lot of motivational books that are heavy on platitudes and pep talks, Nick Saban’s process oriented approach inspires by demonstrating that if we develop a good system, focus on our preparation and the factors we can affect, we will achieve good results. His advice for dealing with roadblocks, difficult people and situations, and deficiencies through good decision making, not wishful thinking, is a welcome change from the “grit your teeth and bear it” philosophy of many motivational books.
If you are inspired by the book, I would also recommend you watch the DVD Gamechanger (al) which also discusses the championship approach as practiced by the Alabama Crimson Tide’s 2009 National Championship season. The access to planning, practices, and his home life reflect what you learn from the book.
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