How to Apply Nick Saban’s Process in Your Life

Nick Saban, the national championship winning head football coach at the University of Alabama, is famous for teaching his team to adhere to something he calls “the process.” Saban’s results speak for themselves. There’s definitely something to his philosophy that works. But what is “the process”, and how can we apply it in our lives?

What is “The Process?”

Saban argues that when you have a big goal (like winning the national championship in football), it’s easy to get caught up in it, and lose sight of what you have to do right now. In other words, it’s easy to get enamored in the overall end goal, and get distracted from doing your job today.

Instead of focusing on massive goals that are far in the future, Saban teaches his players to focus on what they have to do right now. What is their job at this moment? Instead of focusing on winning the national championship, or even the SEC championship, Saban’s players are taught to focus on their task in the present moment. For example, what do they have to focus on so they can be successful at this weightlifting set, this film session, and this play? Once they do their job and it’s finished, the focus shifts to the next weightlifting set, the next film session, and the next play. Saban argues that if you focus 100% of your energy on the process, the outcome will take care of itself. The other way around (i.e., focusing on the outcome and forgetting the process) doesn’t work.

Applying the Process to Your Own Life

How can you apply the process to your own life? Here are 4 key steps:

  1. Identify a big goal. Think about a big goal you are working toward. For example, I’m working on a book right now. The project is really big—by the time I’m finished, it will be over 200 pages. It can be easy to get caught up in the idea of publishing a best-selling book, doing a speaking tour, etc. But daydreaming about the outcome isn’t helpful. The book won’t write itself
  2. Break down the big goal into small steps. After you have one of your big goals in mind, break the goal down into very small steps. Have the steps be so small that you can complete one of the steps in one day. For example, I have to read and research for the book. I have to write a page, and then another one, and then another one. Then I have to edit the book and incorporate feedback from my editor. Finally, I have to market the book, and get it into the hands of people interested in it.
  3. Focus 100% on the next step. After you have broken up your goal into small steps, think about the very next step you need to do. Focus 100% of your energy and effort into that next step. Try your very best to succeed in completing that step. Don’t get distracted—turn off your phone and close down your email. For me, my step today was to write one page in my book. I cleared away my distractions and got to work until it was done.
  4. Work the process—step by step. After you have finished your first step, check in with yourself. What is the next step you need to do? Repeat the process. Focus 100% of your energy and effort into that next step. Work the process step by step until your big goal is completed.

Discussion: What do you think of “the process?” Do you tend to get caught up in daydreaming about a big goal, and fail to make progress toward your goal each day? If so, try to apply the process to your own life, and see what happens.

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