What Bill Snyder did at Kansas State is almost inconceivable. In 1989, Snyder took over the worst program in all of college football and turned the Wildcats into a top-10 team within just seven seasons.
The Hall-of-Fame coach has led K-State to more than 200 wins, 18 bowl games, nine seasons with 10 or more wins, six Top-10 finishes, and two Big 12 championships. Shocking success for a school that considered dropping its football program altogether just before Snyder arrived.
Bill Snyder’s turnaround at Kansas State is unequivocally the greatest turnaround in college football history.
How did he do it? What was the foundation for this unprecedented turnaround?
Snyder built his program on what he calls the 16 Goals for Success…
The two most important areas of life are your faith and your family. This is true for student athletes, students in general, and citizens at large.
Beyond these two values, each individual has to determine what is important to him or her. These areas could include career goals, personal development goals, or academic goals.
Once our players have addressed the goals related to faith and family, they must identify the other things that they want to accomplish. It is important to me that our student-athletes establish goals that will allow them to become the best student, best person, and the best football athletes they can be.
We ask them to base their goals on their priorities. Basically, “What would you like to achieve in each one of those particular categories?”
In our program, we have 16 “Wildcat Goals for Success.” We orient all that we do around these goals and reinforce them frequently. The 16 goals are:
1- Commitment—To common goals and to being successful.
2- Unselfishness—There is no ‘I’ in TEAM.
3- Unity—Come together as never before.
4- Improve—Everyday…as a player, person, and student.
5- Be Tough—Mentally and physically.
6- Self-Discipline—Do it right, don’t accept less.
7- Great Effort
9- Eliminate Mistakes—Don’t beat yourself up.
10- Never Give Up—Never…never…never.
11- Don’t Accept Losing—If you do so one time it will be easy to do so for the rest of your life.
12- No Self-Limitations—Expect more of yourself.
13- Expect To Win—And truly believe we will.
14- Consistency—Your very, very best every time.
15- Leadership—Everyone can set the example.
16- Responsibility—You are responsible for your own performance.
We start each season by talking about these 16 goals, and then working on each goal on a regular basis. I go into much more depth as to exactly what each goal means and how we should work toward that goal.
I am a strong believer in being consistent. We have a good plan and we don’t make changes unless there is a demonstrated reason.
Our youngsters can relate to consistency. We create a pattern in their daily life, and then they learn to work within that routine.
I think you get better at doing something by doing it over and over again.
— Bill Snyder, as quoted in the book Leadership Lessons from Bill Snyder
The consistent reinforcement of these 16 goals led to the greatest turnaround in the history of college football.
Of course, these goals go way beyond building football programs. Snyder’s 16 goals can serve as the foundation for turning around any team, organization, business, and even your personal life.
Review the above list frequently. If things aren’t going well for you, your family, your team, or your business; you’ll find that you’re ignoring one or more of the above-stated goals.
Make a commitment to consistently following these 16 goals and you’ll be on the surest road to success.