Control the Controllable

I’m a big college football fan. It was unavoidable. Here in Alabama, I was born into the heart of Southeastern Conference (SEC) Football. My parents were big Alabama football fans.

Growing up as a youngster, Paul “Bear” Bryant was the head football coach at ‘Bama. He was in his prime establishing himself as the greatest college football coach of all time.

During his 25-year tenure as Alabama's head coach, he amassed 6 national championships and 13 SEC championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for most wins, 323, as a head coach in collegiate football history.

Today, the greatest coach in college football history is Nick Saban. Coach Saban has been the Alabama head coach since 2007 as he took over a program in disarray.

At ‘Bama, he’s won 6 National Championships in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, & 2020. He won another national championship at LSU in 2003. 99% of all college head coaches never make it to one national title game.

Today’s topic is about Nick’s college football system, “The Process”.

It goes hand-in-hand with our title, Control the Controllable.

It’s obvious from Nick’s career his personal mission at Alabama, is building the greatest football program in America. This not only includes having the best coaches that recruit and develop the best college athletes for their professional careers both in the NFL and as they leave Alabama for the real world.

It also includes the support systems behind the scenes of the football product that entertains the fans in the fall. The administrative staff, ticket sales, facilities, boosters, University Administration are just a few in the big business of college football.

Back to the Process …

Nick’s process on the field, is about every coach and player doing their job to dominate their opponent on each and every play. This is true for the offense, defense, and special teams.

The Process looks at EVERY PLAY of a football game as a game within itself.

Every Play. Zero Plays Off.

The goal is to win every play, even when ahead 30 points with 3 minutes left in the game. That’s why you’ll see Saban go nuts sometimes on the sideline toward the end of the game when laziness and contempt creeps in as the football contest is clearly over.

He does not intentionally embarrass the other team or coach when Alabama has the game under control. In this case, he’ll “shorten the game” by running the clock. Only one time have I seen him deliberately try and score in the last minute or so in the games when dominating an opponent. This was when a not very smart head coach (Jim Harbaugh of Michigan) made some disparaging remarks about Nick just before they played in a bowl game a few years back.

Nick learned “the process” and controlling the controllable from a psychology professor when he was coaching at Michigan State.

Another very important piece of the process is no matter what the outcome of each play is, whether you beat your opponent or not, you cannot dwell on it as another play is coming in 30 seconds.

Players must stay focused and not get overconfident or cocky on your wins against your opponent. When you get beat on a play, you must get over it fast because they’re coming right back at you on the next play. This is especially true if the other team finds a weakness in one of the eleven players or formations. Teammates must help each other with this and keep each other accountable.

Nick refers to this as Controlling the Controllables. Players and coaches cannot control the weather, bad officiating, crowd noise (On the road they can affect it, if they dominate), dumb comments by media and others, plus so much more.

In your business there are many things you cannot control. A big one for insurance agencies are the companies you represent making decisions that affect your business is a big one.

A handful of items you can control …

  • finding the sweet spots in your earnings, getting you to the fastest way to the cash
  • creating profitable systems/processes for sales, marketing, operations, and building the best team
  • your health (unless your hit with a chronic disease) which will provide the needed energy to lead your business
  • your attitude and how you respond to wins and losses in your business and individual units within your organization
  • learning from your losses, failures, or not quite winning yet, decisions - interactions with clients and vendors make excellent teaching moments for your team
  • training and educating your team members every day – roleplay and train on the days you want to win, zero days off, it doesn’t have to be long 5-10 minutes every day adds up fast
  • get rid of the waste, including people, that doesn’t serve you or your business
  • work environment is critical and needs to serve a proactive workplace
  • planning your day rather than reacting to the chaos of the day
  • and so much more

Success leaves clues. Nick Saban and his process leaves clues.

You can choose to learn more from it or do like most ordinary people do, very little or make excuses as to why your business is different or you tried it and my people just will not come around to it, or any other excuse will do.

90% of people that read this message will do nothing about it. Don’t do that!

Do this instead …

Grab a pen and pad of paper. Watch Saban’s first press conference at Alabama in 2007. Here is the link - His speech begins at 10 minutes and 21 seconds – Feel free to skip forward to it.

Pay attention and make notes (it’s a recording, you control playback) the FIRST 6-7 MINUTES how he describes his first National Championship team at LSU and their team goals. Those goals were not outcome goals but “controlling the controllable goals” or “process goals”. This is the key.

Think about how you can apply some of or all of those 5 process goals of the LSU championship team into your business, family life, community service, your health (physical or mental), etc.