What I Learned From Nick Saban

Love them or hate them or are indifferent – the Alabama Crimson Tide is one heck of a football team dynasty. Growing up in Georgia – if you are a TRUE Georgian sports fan – you are either a Jacket or a Bulldog. For me, Georgia Tech was always #1 in our house – my dad was on the 1952 National Football Championship Team so Jackets were in our DNA. But other than the Saturday after Thanksgiving I’m a Georgia Bulldog fan.

So… the 2018 National Championship game was a heartbreaker for us Bulldogs but as with most things – only half the fans were heartbroken! My Roll Tide friends (except for that Monday night and maybe into Tuesday when they weren’t – friends) were ecstatic.

My respect for Nick Saban grew by leaps and bounds as he lead a group of young men from almost impossible odds to win in a dramatic come from behind victory. It lead me to a bit of  introspect and research -”What are the principles he leads by?” and “How can I apply his principles to myself and my business?”

Here is what I learned from Nick Saban –

1 – Don’t be afraid to try something new midstream.  My first thought when Coach Saban sent in a “true freshman” untested and unproven in a National Championship setting was “is he nuts?”  A loss and he would be second guessed by all the armchair quarterbacks around the country. A win and he’s a hero. Obviously – he was a hero.

Sometimes if what we’ve always done is not working, we have to try something new. That may mean changing it up. Sometimes we have to be brave enough to take a chance. and we have to be “ a little nuts.” We have to pick up the phone to call the prospect we’ve been putting off calling. Maybe we have to make the video and post it to social media and sometimes we have to put ourselves out there and risk failure. My son has heard all his life “If you don’t ask – the answer is always “NO!” Be a little nuts.

2 – Work the process. Coach Saban is famous for his process. His philosophy is that if you know the process inside and out – backwards and forwards – then you don’t have to worry about the outcome. You focus on the process. The minutia. The “small stuff.”  What do you need to do everyday, day in and day out to be successful?

3 – Develop routines.  Hand in hand with “work the process”,  is having routines. Routines will help to channel mental energies to more profitable “other” energies. As business owners, having systems in place will help us to develop profitable routines. If we don’t have to think about something as simple as where we put the receipt because it has a process, then that 10 minutes of thinking can go to more profitable outcomes. (OR.. two days finding the receipt when it’s tax time!)

Systems are the lifeblood of a successful enterprise. Small to big, routines aka systems are important. What do you do to intake a new client and how do you make sure the customer gets what they ordered? What’s the way you can enable your customers to have a good client experience working with you? Routines and systems.

4 – Micromanage and Don’t Apologize For It.  Everything I read says Nick Saban is famous for his “micromanaging.” I’m a firm believer in empowering others to make decisions but I have to trust they are prepared to actually make those decisions. And.. to do that… I micromanage them until I’m satisfied they are the best they can be and CAN make those decisions. Many times the positive outcomes are in the details. Paying attention to the small stuff can be the difference in a satisfied client and an unhappy one. It can be the difference between a successful company and one that folds.

5 – Surround Yourself With Good People. “Good people” is everyone from your employees to your vendors to your networking partners to your friends. Nick Saban is not afraid to hire people that have different strengths than he does. This is a major point in gathering a great team or group of advisers.  If we surround yourself with people just like us – then how can we recognize different points of view or challenge ourselves with overcoming the differences? I would drive myself crazy if I were to hire me! I want someone that is focused and can work all these systems that I know I need but don’t want to follow. (Yes, working on that one!)  I want a ying to my yang. I want ketchup to my mustard… salt to my pepper… you get the drift.

Sometimes we find lessons in the not so obvious and sometimes it’s what’s in front of us. Occasionally, we have to dig deep and find the lessons. Nick Saban and the success lessons learned are a combination of all three. Studying successful people and applying those principles to our lives are what makes us better – better at our businesses, better at our relationships and better at being in our world.

What lessons are you going to seek out?

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