The Score Takes Care of Itself
The Score Takes Care of Itself

The Score Takes Care of Itself

Do all the right things to precision and “the score will take care of itself” sums up my father’s philosophy, (Location 129)

Note: Do all the right things to precision

Bill got all of us striving to be perfect in games and practice. He said that if you aim for perfection and miss, you’re still pretty good, but if you aim for mediocre and miss? Well, he didn’t allow us to think like that. (Location 179)

Tags: goals, perfection

Note: If you aim for perfection an miss youre still pretty good

You might think that trying to meet his extremely high expectations would tighten you up, but Bill didn’t jump on you for a mistake; he came right in with the correction: “Here’s what was wrong; this is how to do it right.” Over and over, without getting all upset, he taught the smallest details of perfecting performance. (Location 190)

Note: Heres what went wrong, heres how to do it right

Almost always, your road to victory goes through a place called “failure.” (Location 374)

Tags: failure

Note: .failure

There is no guarantee, no ultimate formula for success. However, a resolute and resourceful leader understands that there are a multitude of means to increase the probability of success. And that’s what it all comes down to, namely, intelligently and relentlessly seeking solutions that will increase your chance of prevailing in a competitive environment. When you do that, the score will take care of itself. (Location 378)

Note: Always seek solutions which will increase your chances of success

Pursuing your ambitions, especially those of any magnitude, can be grueling and hazardous, and produce agonizing failure along the way, but achieving those goals is among life’s most gratifying and thrilling experiences. The ability to survive and overcome the former to attain the latter is a fundamental difference between winners and losers. (Location 389)

Tags: challenges

Note: .challenges

When I give a speech at a corporate event, I often ask those in attendance, “Do you know how to tell if you’re doing the job?” As heads start whispering back and forth, I provide these clues: “If you’re up at 3 A.M. every night talking into a tape recorder and writing notes on scraps of paper, have a knot in your stomach and a rash on your skin, are losing sleep and losing touch with your wife and kids, have no appetite or sense of humor, and feel that everything might turn out wrong, then you’re probably doing the job.” This always gets a laugh, but not a very big one. Those executives in the audience recognize there is a significant price to pay to be the best. (Location 400)

Tags: success

Note: there is a significant price to pay to be the best

When the inevitable setback, loss, failure, or defeat comes crashing down on you—losing a big sale, being passed over for a career-making promotion, even getting fired—allow yourself the “grieving time,” but then recognize that the road to recovery and victory lies in having the strength to get up off the mat and start planning your next move. This is how you must think if you want to win. Otherwise you have lost. (Location 488)

Tags: challenges

Note: .challenges

MY FIVE DOS FOR GETTING BACK INTO THE GAME: 1. Do expect defeat. It’s a given when the stakes are high and the competition is working ferociously to beat you. If you’re surprised when it happens, you’re dreaming; dreamers don’t last long. 2. Do force yourself to stop looking backward and dwelling on the professional “train wreck” you have just been in. It’s mental quicksand. 3. Do allow yourself appropriate recovery—grieving—time. You’ve been knocked senseless; give yourself a little time to recuperate. A keyword here is “little.” Don’t let it drag on. 4. Do tell yourself, “I am going to stand and fight again,” with the knowledge that often when things are at their worst you’re closer than you can imagine to success. Our Super Bowl victory arrived less than sixteen months after my “train wreck” in Miami. 5. Do begin planning for your next serious encounter. The smallest steps—plans—move you forward on the road to recovery. Focus on the fix. (Location 516)

Tags: challenges

Note: .challenges

My Standard of Performance—the values and beliefs within it—guided everything I did in my work at San Francisco and are defined as follows: Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement; demonstrate respect for each person in the organization and the work he or she does; be deeply committed to learning and teaching, which means increasing my own expertise; be fair; demonstrate character; honor the direct connection between details and improvement, and relentlessly seek the latter; show self-control, especially where it counts most—under pressure; demonstrate and prize loyalty; use positive language and have a positive attitude; take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of that effort; be willing to go the extra distance for the organization; deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation (don’t get crazy with victory nor dysfunctional with loss); promote internal communication that is both open and substantive (especially under stress); seek poise in myself and those I lead; put the team’s welfare and priorities ahead of my own; maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high; and make sacrifice and commitment the organization’s trademark. (Location 594)

Note: Standard of performance principles

From the start, my prime directive, the fundamental goal, was the full and total implementation throughout the organization of the actions and attitudes of the Standard of Performance I described earlier. This was radical in the sense that winning is the usual prime directive in professional football and most businesses. (Location 673)

Note: Focus on introducing the standards

Victory is produced by and belongs to all. Winning a Super Bowl (or becoming number one in the marketplace, or reaching a significant quarterly production quota, or landing a big account) results from your whole team not only doing their individual jobs but perceiving that those jobs contributed to overall success. The trophy doesn’t belong just to a superstar quarterback or CEO, head coach or top salesperson. And this organizational perception that “success belongs to everyone” is taught by the leader. (Location 721)

Tags: team

Note: .team success belongs to all

The leader’s job is to facilitate a battlefield-like sense of camaraderie among his or her personnel, an environment for people to find a way to bond together, to care about one another and the work they do, to feel the connection and extension so necessary for great results. Ultimately, it’s the strongest bond of all, even stronger than money. (Location 748)

People want to believe they’re part of something special, an organization that’s exceptional. And that’s the environment I was creating in the early months and years at San Francisco. (Location 762)

Tags: teams

Note: People want to believe theyre part of something special

The culture precedes positive results. It doesn’t get tacked on as an afterthought on your way to the victory stand. Champions behave like champions before they’re champions; they have a winning standard of performance before they are winners. (Location 765)

Tags: culture

Note: .culture

Before you can win the fight, you’ve got to be in the fight. (Location 781)

Tags: quotes

Note: .quote

Establishing Your Standard of Performance In quantifying and implementing your own version of the Standard of Performance, the following guidelines are a good reference point: 1. Start with a comprehensive recognition of, reverence for, and identification of the specific actions and attitudes relevant to your team’s performance and production. 2. Be clarion clear in communicating your expectation of high effort and execution of your Standard of Performance. Like water, many decent individuals will seek lower ground if left to their own inclinations. In most cases you are the one who inspires and demands they go upward rather than settle for the comfort of doing what comes easily. Push them beyond their comfort zone; expect them to give extra effort. 3. Let all know that you expect them to possess the highest level of expertise in their area of responsibility. 4. Beyond standards and methodology, teach your beliefs, values, and philosophy. An organization is not an inanimate object. It is a living organism that you must nurture, guide, and strengthen. 5. Teach “connection and extension.” An organization filled with individuals who are “independent contractors” unattached to one another is a team with little interior cohesion and strength. 6. Make the expectations and metrics of competence that you demand in action and attitudes from personnel the new reality of your organization. You must provide the model for that new standard in your own actions and attitude. (Location 822)

Lessons of the Bill Walsh Offense My new short precision pass-oriented offense was ostensibly created out of nothing. In fact, it was created out of existing assets that only needed to be “seen” and then capitalized on in new ways. There are several elements in its evolution that are worth evaluating as they pertain to your own leadership. 1. Success doesn’t care which road you take to get to its doorstep. The traditionalists—rigid and resistant in their thinking—who sneered at the new passing system I was creating were soon trying to figure out why it was beating them and how to copy it. 2. Be bold. Remove fear of the unknown—that is, change—from your mind. Respect the past without clinging to it: “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is the mantra of a team setting itself up to lose to an organization that’s not doing it that way any more. Paul Brown didn’t flinch when I came to him with my revolutionary ideas—a completely new system of playing offensive football. By nature he was an innovator who wasn’t afraid of change. 3. Desperation should not drive innovation. Here’s a good question to write on a Post-it Note and put on your desk: “What assets do we have right now that we’re not taking advantage of?” Virgil Carter’s “limited” skills, the 53.5 yards of width, and the availability of five potential receivers were all available assets even before desperation drove me to utilize them creatively. While waiting to get what you want—a “quarterback with a strong arm”—make the most of what you’ve got. 4. Be obsessive in looking for the upside in the downside. My evaluation of Virgil Carter’s “weak” résumé, his so-called limited assets, led directly to utilizing them productively. Why? Instead of looking for reasons we couldn’t make it work, I sought solutions that would make it succeed. (Location 1081)

Unfortunately, too often we find comfort in what worked before—even when it stops working. We get stuck there and resist the new, the unfamiliar, the unconventional. (Location 1105)

Tags: change

Note: Dont get too comfortable with what has worked in the past. Be open to change

It’s the same for you, of course: “What do you do if . . . ?” Most leaders take this no deeper than the first level of inquiry. You must envision the future deeply and in detail—creatively—so that the unforeseeable becomes foreseeable. Then you write your script for the foreseeable. (Location 1168)

Scripting was a preprepared format, a flexible blueprint that I used to navigate through the turmoil, uncertainty, and stress of competition. “If this situation arises, we do this; if this happens, we do that.” On and on. It was almost by the numbers; the minute those new situations came up, I’d go to the contingency play that I had worked up in advance and printed on the script on my clipboard. (Location 1189)

Tags: if this, preparation

Note: .preparation if this happens do this

When you’re thorough in your preparation—“scripting” is a part of it—you can almost go on automatic pilot and reduce the chance of making emotional and ill-considered decisions. Scripting allowed me to take randomness and stress out of the decision-making process. The result is a very adaptable but intelligent plan for the future. (Location 1246)

And once the decision was made, the discussion was over. My ultimate job, and yours, is not to give an opinion. Everybody’s got an opinion. Leaders are paid to make a decision. The difference between offering an opinion and making a decision is the difference between working for the leader and being the leader. (Location 1632)

Tags: ceo, leadership

Note: .leadership leaders are paid to make a decision

Here’s a short checklist worth keeping in mind when it comes to persevering, to doing it “your way” at all costs: 1. A leader must never quit. 2. A leader must know when to quit. 3. Proving that you are right or proving that someone is wrong are bad reasons for persisting. 4. Good logic, sound principles, and strong belief are the purest and most productive reasons for pushing forward when things get rough. (Location 1698)

Tags: leadership

Note: .leadership

I wanted our focus directed at one thing only: going about our business in an intensely efficient and professional manner—first on the practice field, later on the playing field. I felt that moving attention away from that goal to create artificial and manufactured “demons” was artificial and usually nonproductive, especially when done repeatedly (as is usually the case with those who like the technique). (Location 1871)

From time to time, leaders must show this hard edge. They must make those around them somewhat uneasy, even ill at ease, in not knowing what to expect from you, the leader. The knowledge that there is this hardness inside you can have a very sobering effect on those who might otherwise be sloppy—those who occasionally need to be reminded of your policies and practices. (Location 1987)

Tags: leadership

Note: .leadership leaders must show a hard edge from time to time

We can win if we work smart enough and hard enough. 2. We can win if we put the good of the group ahead of our own personal interests. 3. We can win if we improve. And there is always room for improvement. 4. I know what is required for us to win. I will show you what it is. (Location 2015)

Note: Powerful inner voice to help win. Work smart and hard. Put the group ahead of yourself. Always look to improve

When I criticized or gave feedback to someone, it wasn’t defeatist. It was always focused on the here and now and never conjured up images or incidents of poor play over the previous days or weeks (for example, “Your motion was lousy. That’s why you’ve been throwing interceptions for the last three weeks. How long is it going to take to get it right? I’m getting tired of seeing this over and over.”). It creates a sense of piling on, of browbeating. When that happens, you lose credibility and respect because the subject of your continuous criticism sees it as a personal attack. Others see it and react the same way. (This is not to say I never piled on or wasn’t occasionally guilty of browbeating.) (Location 2159)

. Employees can thrive in an environment where they know exactly what is expected of them—even when those expectations are very high. When it comes to telling people what you expect from them, don’t be subtle, don’t be coy, don’t be vague. What is your version of, “Gentlemen, this is a football”? (Location 2199)

Tags: team, expectations

Note: Be very specific with what is expected

Quality collaboration is only possible in the presence of quality communication; that is, the free-flowing and robust exchange of information, ideas, and opinions. And “having big ears”—the skill of being a great listener—is the first law of good communication. (Location 2221)

Tags: listen

Note: .listen

I wanted to work with people smart enough to have independent thinking but strong enough to change their opinion when evidence or logic suggested it. (Location 2243)

Tags: teams, favorite

Note: Have a intelligent view but be open to changing in your opinion in light of new evidence. Strong views, loosely held

Rank, titles, or inferred status can impede open communication in an environment where people thrive on helping one another. (Location 2280)

Tags: collaboration

Note: Rank, title and inferred status can impede open comms

“Be more concerned with finding the right way than in having it your way.” When you reach the point where someone in your organization comes up with an idea better than the one you’ve been extolling for weeks or months and it makes you happy, you’re an authentic communicator and collaborator. (Location 2296)

Note: Have it the right way rather than having it your way

“Listen and learn” isn’t a bad motto; neither is “Listen and lead.” In most organizations the leader’s example sets the tone for everyone else. One of the greatest and most neglected skills in leadership is the ability to listen. If someone told me that leadership is as easy as one, two, three, I’d reply, “Only if the one, two, and three are as follows: 1. Listen 2. Learn 3. Lead” (Location 2305)

Tags: listen

Note: .listen leaders must listen,learn,lead

Leadership, at its best, is exactly that: teaching skills, attitudes, and goals (yes, goals are both defined and taught) to individuals who are part of your organization. Most things in life require good teaching—raising a family and educating children, running a company or sales team, or coaching athletes—so it’s unfortunate that more people don’t spend the time and thought required to do it effectively. (Location 2395)

Here is a list of descriptions I used to set up and create excitement for seven different plays during a presentation in preparation for a game with the Dallas Cowboys: • “Guys, this one should knock ’em on their asses!” • “Now, here’s one I think is almost perfect for us.” • “I think we’re gonna have some fun with this one. It’s a beauty!” • “Fellas, this next one should score. No question about it.” • “Here’s one play that is really just excellent. Forget excellent. It’s better than excellent.” • “This one will work just great. You’ll see why right now.” • “Oh, boy, this is terrific. Just look at what this one does!” Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Each one was something special, with its own special introduction and personality. (Location 2452)

Note: Hype up info to keep others interested

My checklist of personal qualities—assets—in potential staff members: 1. A fundamental knowledge of the area he or she has been hired to manage. You may think this is so self-evident it’s insulting to include. However, often we are tempted to hire simply on the basis of friendship or other user-friendly characteristics. They can be important. Expertise is more important. 2. A relatively high—but not manic—level of energy and enthusiasm and a personality that is upbeat, motivated, and animated. Groups will often collectively take on the personality of their department head (e.g., in football, their position coach). A negative, complaining staff member will be emulated by those he or she is in charge of. So will a positive go-getter. 3. The ability to discern talent in potential employees whom he or she will recommend to you. 4. An ability to communicate in a relaxed yet authoritative—but not authoritarian—manner. 5. Unconditional loyalty to both you and other staff members. If your staff members are chipping away at one another, the organization is weakened from within—like a tree full of termites. There is, in my view, no offense more serious than disloyalty. (Location 2652)

Tags: hiring

Note: .hiring

In building and maintaining your organization, place a premium on those who exhibit great desire to keep pushing themselves to higher and higher performance and production levels, who seek to go beyond the highest standards that you, the leader, set. The employee who gets to work early, stays late, fights through illness and personal problems is the one to keep your eye on for greater responsibilities. (Location 2851)

If I noticed the same groups always sitting together at lunch or dinner, I would have the assistant coaches start mixing them around so that people got more familiar with one another. This also meant there was less likelihood of the same little group of complainers sitting together and adding members. (Location 2932)

Tags: teams

Note: Mix up teams

The most powerful way to do this is by having the courage to say, “I believe in you,” in whatever words and way are comfortable for you. These four words—or their equivalents—constitute the most inspirational message a leader can convey. There are many different ways to do it, but the fundamental and underlying message must always be the same: “I believe in you. I know you can do the job.” (Location 2989)

Tags: parenting, feedback, favorite

Note: I believe in you