Nick Saban’s Secret to Success

Nick SabanNick Saban has won five national championships (one at LSU and four at Alabama), which makes him the most successful active coach in college football. His “secret” to success is something he calls, The Process (something that was discussed extensively in the bestselling book, Think Like a Warrior).

Strikingly similar to the philosophy embraced by history’s greatest college basketball coach, John Wooden, The Process is a relentless focus on only the things that you can control. It means not being distracted by the scoreboard and not being intimidated by an opponent’s perceived strengths. Instead, Saban teaches his teams that they are responsible for what they create, not the other team.

Whether things are going good or bad at any given moment, Saban tells his teams to focus on the process of becoming champions and nothing else.

Practically speaking, here’s how Saban’s powerful philosophy applies to all areas of life…


Only concern yourself with what YOU do.

We try to avoid talking about the strengths of our opponents; otherwise, it would be negative teaching. I have noticed how many coaches and business leaders now teach in a defensive mode, trying to stop the opposition or anticipate their moves, rather than simply focusing on what they can create. I am not saying that coaches or leaders should not be strategic—that is, make adjustments for the other team—but their primary focus should be on their team.

“We create the outcome of the game by doing what we do,” I tell [my] players all the time.

Another one they hear a lot: “You must believe in who you are, what you are, where you are going, and how you’re going to get there.” That simple motto took us to the national championship.

Worry about the things you can control in your life, both professionally and personally. Don’t worry too much about whether or not people like you, and don’t get anxious about an impending situation. You can’t control these things.

Spend your time working on what you can control—your actions, words, and emotions.

There’s an old saying that points out that you can’t do much about how hard the wind is blowing, but you can adjust your sails.


– Nick Saban, from his book How Good Do You Want to Be?

Every minute you worry about all the things you have no control over is a minute you have wasted. Your time would have been much better spent focusing on the things you can control—like your effort and attitude in the present moment.

The next time you find yourself worrying about something you can’t control, remind yourself of Nick Saban’s philosophy and quickly shift your focus to the things you do have control over.