Lou Holtz’s 10 Rules for Success

Lou HoltzThe first self-improvement book I ever bought was called, Winning Every Day by Lou Holtz. I was in college at the time and Holtz had recently retired as head coach at Notre Dame. I bought the book more because I was a fan of Notre Dame Football and Coach Holtz and less because I was seeking to change my life.

But that book did change my life.

Holtz’s book forced me to think about what I really wanted to do in life and what kind of sacrifices I was willing to make to get there. It made me realize the importance of every decision I make and it hammered home the fact that success isn’t an accident; it’s the result of positive thinking, hard work, grit, self-determination, and having a clear plan for where you want to go.

Lou Holtz based his book on the ten rules that guided him to a Hall-of-Fame coaching career, which included a National Championship at Notre Dame. I’ve learned that these ten rules are the basis for achieving any goal—as an entrepreneur, as a coach, as a writer, as a parent, in sports, in business, in any area of life. I still refer to these ten rules often to ensure I’m on the right path…


1- The Power of Attitude. The attitude you choose to assume toward life and everything it brings you will determine whether you realize your aspirations.

2- Tackle Adversity. To achieve success, you are going to have to solve problems. If you react positively to them, you’ll be stronger and better than ever. I’ve never encountered a person who achieved anything that didn’t require overcoming obstacles. Expect them.

3- Have a Sense of Purpose. Understand what you are trying to do. Stay completely focused on your original and primary purpose. Do not be sidetracked.

4- Make Sacrifice Your Ally. You can’t be successful without making sacrifices. Most losing organizations are overpopulated with people who constantly complain about life’s difficulties. They will drain your enthusiasm and energy. Take pride in making sacrifices and having self-discipline.

5- Adapt or Die. Things are always changing, so embrace the fact that your life and career are always in transition.

6- Chase Your Dreams. All great accomplishments start with a dream. Dreams fuel your enthusiasm and vision. They give you a burning desire to get up in the morning and achieve.

7- Nurture Your Self-Image. A positive self-image grows out of having strong character. To be trustworthy, committed to excellence, and show care for others are the underpinnings of a successful person.

8- Foster Trust. All relationships are based on trust. Continually ask yourself, “Is this the right thing to do?” Do what you feel is right regardless of peer pressure or personal desires; success and confidence will not be far behind.

9- Commit to Excellence. Do everything to the best of your abilities. When you lower standards, you only invite mediocrity.

10- Handle with Care. Treat others as you would like to be treated—with concern and care


— Lou Holtz, from his book Winning Every Day

These ten rules serve as a game plan for success as well as guideposts for making sure you’re living your life right. Refer to them often as a roadmap for whatever you’re trying to accomplish.