Nick Saban, head coach at the University of Alabama, has won 5 national championships and become—arguably to Auburn fans—the greatest football coach in history.
The guy must be doing something right. But, what is it?
When Saban is asked that question, which is often, he always gives the same answer: the Process.
Focus on the Process
The phrase “blocking and tackling” came from football but has become a universal metaphor for “work that’s not glamorous but is important.” The kind of work that ultimately creates champions.
Coach Saban drives his coaches and players to identify the fundamental tasks necessary to be the best. To understand the top few things that are most important, and then work relentlessly on those things. One at a time. Over and over. And over and over and over.
This passion for doing the small things with excellence helps players stay focused. To run every play as if it matters, to work out as hard as they can, and even to show up on time. Every time.
To focus on the Process is to take a step-by-step approach. Again, in Nick Saban’s words:
- It’s the journey that’s important.
- You can’t worry about end results.
- It’s about what you control.
- Every minute of every day.
Hmm, that sounds familiar.
Origin of the Process
How did Nick Saban develop the Process? Where did it come from?
“Saban owes this philosophy to Dr. Lionel ‘Lonny’ Rosen, a Michigan State University psychiatry professor he befriended when he coached there in the late ’90s. Rosen taught the Michigan State Spartans a form of step-by-step thinking developed by cognitive therapy pioneer Aaron Beck and popularly used in the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program.” (Monte Burke in his book Saban: The Making of a Coach, as quoted on Business Insider)
Ahhh, that’s why Saban’s philosophy to focus on the Process rings a bell. Especially when we compare his key points to some of the fundamental principles of recovery, such as:
- Remember that life is a journey.
- Do the next right thing.
- Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you can.
- Take it one day at a time.
In the book STEPS, this translates to: surrender you will to God, admit your mistakes, seek forgiveness, spend time in prayer, and serve others. One at a time. Over and over and over.
In life, sometimes we make things too complicated. They don’t have to be. In football, in recovery, and in living each day well, some things just work.
If we remember to focus on the process.
Question: Do you have a process to help you stay focused on the most important things?
Action: Pick 3 tasks that are fundamentally important and commit to do them every day.