Saban's Playbook

The current very successful coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Nick Saban, said the following in his Louisiana State defensive playbook when he was the coach at LSU.

“We will be alert and aggressive and take advantage of every opportunity to come up with the ball…The trademark of our defense will be effort, toughness, and no mental mistakes regarding score or situation in any game (Brown, 2012, p.96).”

I want to comment on six words or phrases grouping them in groups of threes because they are interrelated.  They are relevant to every business owner.

Alert, Aggressive, Take advantage of every opportunity

Opportunities by their very definition are temporary and fleeting.  According to Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary an opportunity is, “a favorable juncture of circumstances.”  Related to the word opportunity is a break, chance, or opening.  An opportunity presented may never appear again and must be taken advantage of timely.  In order to take advantage, one has to be alert and aggressive.  John Wooden says it best when discussing the quality of alertness (a block in his Pyramid of Success) and making application to the business leader.  “Leaders who exercise this value of the Pyramid constantly monitor the competitive landscape and are quick to identify trends, changes, opportunities, and potential threats.  They see things before others because they make it a habit to be on guard, alert for early signs and signals that necessitate adjustments along the way.  Consequently, they see what others aren’t even looking for (Wooden, Jamison, 2005, p.35).”

Effort, Toughness, No mental mistakes

Many years before Saban at Alabama, the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant’s teams were the epitome of effort, toughness, and preparation.  It all started with Bryant and his coaches.  Allen Barra described it this way.  “Under Bryant, absolutely no one would be standing around doing nothing.  At 5:30 a.m. Bryant was in his office; at 7:00 a.m. staff meetings began, followed by study sessions of opponents’ game films.  The lunch break was often no more than fifteen minutes, and in the afternoon there were at least two solid hours of full-bore practice.  After dinner, another staff meeting at 7:00 p.m. sharp (Barra, 2005, p.210).”  I want to encourage company leaders to build a team with the same level of effort, toughness, and preparation that you demonstrate.  This will result in less mental mistakes and build a high quality organization.

Starting and maintaining a successful business will be much more likely by taking a lesson from Saban’s playbook.

*Brown, Chris B., (2012), The Essential Smart Football

*Wooden, John, Jamison, Steve, (2005), Wooden On Leadership

*Barra, Allen, (2005), The Last Coach

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