We’ve all heard about “The Process” as it relates to Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his program.

When most hear the term, they immediately picture Saban on the practice field, voice raised, intensity in his eyes and coaching his rear off.

But in digging into exactly what “The Process” is, one finds that it goes well beyond football. It’s actually a life philosophy rooted in sound psychological advice. It’s something that can be life-changing if adhered to properly, regardless of profession or situation.

Here are five life lessons we can all use from Saban’s process.

1- Focus on right now

As human beings, the most intelligent organisms on the planet, we tend to think deeply both about past and future. At times, if one is stuck in the past or overly-concerned about what lies ahead, it can be paralyzing in terms of important progress to be made today. We can’t do anything about yesterday and we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Focus on today because that’s really all you’ve got.

2- Eliminate the clutter

We all have thoughts that come and go on a daily basis that aren’t necessarily related to the task at hand. This “clutter” can cause an internal train wreck in our minds and quite often can derail the best intentions of a single day. Get rid of the clutter. Block it out no matter what you have to do to do it. Ask yourself – “is this something that is relevant to what I have to do right now?” and if the answer is no, get it out of your head. Far too often, we get consumed with irrelevant thoughts.

3- Do not be attached to outcomes

This is at the core of The Process. The story is that when Saban was coaching at Michigan State, prior to the Spartans heading to Columbus to face No. 1 Ohio State, he instructed his team to simply focus on the next play like it was a game within itself and not worry about winning. The result? Michigan State upset the Buckeyes, 28-24, in one of the signature wins of Saban’s early career. It’s great to have goals, but in order to reach those goals, one has to put supreme focus on what it takes to achieve those goals, otherwise you will never get there.

4- Adversity is your friend

Saban has quoted the first like of the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. The quote simply reads “Life is difficult”. That’s true. There won’t be a person on this Earth that does not face some sort of adversity along the path of life. While having to overcome adversity isn’t all that pleasant at times, Saban says that the achievements in the face of adversity are what makes achievements even more worthwhile.

5- Mental toughness and discipline are paramount

To face the certain adversity in life, one must have mental toughness to push forward and be able to block out the clutter, focus on today, etc. They also must have the discipline to handle the day’s business, which won’t always be the comfortable decision. Saban remarked in a speech once that most people have something every day that they don’t want to do, but they know they should, so they do it (or the opposite). Likewise most people have something every day that they know they should not do and they choose not to (or the opposite). It’s these daily choices that are influenced by our discipline and mental toughness in terms of having the strength to make the right ones.

It’s quite interesting that Saban’s success as a head coach has really come down to a life philosophy. Regardless of anyone’s opinion of the Alabama football program, Saban or anything else that rabid fans of other teams love to hate on, this type of advise is good for all of us to follow if we want to be successful. I know I picked up a lot of useful information in studying up on it and would encourage you to do the same.


Written by: JC Shurburtt