Life Lessons the Harbaugh Brothers Learned from Their Father

Jim Harbaugh, John Harbaugh, and Jack HarbaughJohn Harbaugh is one of the top active coaches in the NFL. As head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, he has the second-most playoff victories since 2008, he’s led his team to three AFC Championship appearances, and his team won Super Bowl XLVII.

Jim Harbaugh is one of the top active coaches in college football. He has been named both the college football Coach of the Year (in 2010) and the NFL Coach of the Year (in 2011). Currently the head coach at Michigan, his alma mater, Jim Harbaugh led the Wolverines to a Top-10 finish in each of his first two seasons.

Together, John and Jim Harbaugh were the first pair of brothers to serve as head coaches in the NFL. In an incredible feat that will likely never again be repeated, the two brothers faced each other in Super Bowl XLVII.

The Harbaugh brothers’ success in coaching was undoubtedly passed down from their father, Jack Harbaugh.

Jack was a longtime successful coach who won the Division 1-AA National Championship in 2002.

When asked about the impact Jack Harbaugh had on his sons, John Harbaugh revealed the following powerful message…


My brother Jim and I were always a part of our dad’s teams, in one way or another, so we learned plenty of things from that. We knew a lot of the players and coaches wherever we lived, and we would oftentimes have them over for dinner. Our lives were centered on the team, and the team was kind of an extension of our family. We were a close unit.

One of the major things Jim and I learned from our dad was to “attack the day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” That’s something you can take with you, not only on the field, but in the office as well, even during the off-season.

The decisions we make now will affect the outcome of games next season.

That’s what the acronym “W.I.N.” is all about. It stands for “What’s Important Now.”

In other words, you can’t change the past or the future, but you do have the power to change what is happening now. That, in turn, will affect what happens in the future.

So, basically, you do the best you can with whatever is in front of you now. That’s where the power is.


— John Harbaugh, from an interview in the book Fit for Heaven by Trent Beattie

It’s easy to get distracted by things outside of your control. It’s easy to dwell on past discouragements or to lose yourself in worries about the future. But getting lost in negative thoughts about the past or the future will not help you move forward effectively.

Start your day in attack mode. “Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”

 And constantly ask yourself, “What’s important now?”

These two Harbaugh-family reminders will help you avoid getting stuck in negative thought patterns. If you’re consistently attacking the day with enthusiasm and reminding yourself to focus on what’s most important at the present moment, you’ll keep yourself moving forward in a positive frame of mind.