The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

Rating: 8/10

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The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

Rating: 8/10

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High-Level Thoughts

Written in short chapters on different ideas for leadership and success in competitive fields, Walsh’s memoir on leadership is excellent even if you know nothing about football.

Summary Notes

Even with the greatest amount of talent possible, you can’t guarantee success for a team. But there are things you can do to increase the probability of success, and a great leader intelligently and ruthlessly seeks out solutions to increase that probability. And when you do, the score will take care of itself.

People who succeed in highly competitive environments have one thing in common, failure, and the ability to overcome it.

Five DOs for getting back in the game:

  1. Do expect defeat, if you’re surprised about ever getting defeated, you were deluding yourself.
  2. Do force yourself to stop looking backward and miring yourself in misery.
  3. Do allow yourself appropriate recovery time, but no more.
  4. Do tell yourself that you’re going to stand and fight again.
  5. Do begin planning for the next serious encounter.

And five don’ts:

  1. Don’t say “why me?”
  2. Don’t expect sympathy
  3. Don’t bellyache
  4. Don’t keep accepting condolences
  5. Don’t blame othersBill’s Standard of Performance :
  6. Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement
  7. Demonstrate respect for each person in the organization and the work he or she does
  8. Be deeply committed to learning and teaching, which means increasing my own expertise
  9. Be fair
  10. Demonstrate character
  11. Honor the direct connection between details and improvement, and relentlessly seek the latter
  12. Show self-control, especially where it counts most— under pressure
  13. Demonstrate and prize loyalty
  14. Use positive language and have a positive attitude
  15. Take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of that effort
  16. Be willing to go the extra distance for the organization
  17. Deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation (don’t get crazy with victory nor dysfunctional with loss)
  18. Promote internal communication that is both open and substantive (especially under stress)
  19. Seek poise in myself and those I lead
  20. Put the team’s welfare and priorities ahead of my own
  21. Maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high
  22. And make sacrifice and commitment the organization’s trademark.

The key to performing under pressure is to develop a strong standard of performance and stick to it no matter what. Remove as much decision making as possible within the context of it.

Few things offer a greater return on investment than praise, offering credit to someone who stepped up and performed.

Keep asking yourself “What do I do if?” in order to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for any eventuality. What could happen tomorrow, next week, or next year that you haven’t planned for, aren’t ready to deal with, or have put in the category of “I’ll worry about that when the time comes”? Planning for the future shouldn’t be postponed until the future arrives.

Others will follow you based on the quality of your actions, not the magnitude of your declarations.

A leader must be keen and alert to what drives a decision, a plan of action. If it was based on good logic, sound principles, and strong belief, I felt comfortable in being unswerving in moving toward my goal. Any other reason (or reasons) for persisting were examined carefully. Among the most common faulty reasons are (1) trying to prove you are right and (2) trying to prove someone else is wrong. Of course, they amount to about the same thing and often lead to the same place: defeat.

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.

No one can control the outcome of a contest or competition, but you can control how you prepare for it.

Sweat the right small stuff, don’t obsess over little things as a form of procrastination.

Common messages from the inner voice of leaders:

  1. 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.

Don’t mistake activity for action.

It’s not about if you lose or win, it’s about how

Daily Reminders to Keep You On Track:

  1. Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.
  2. Exhibit an inner toughness emanating from four of the most effective survival tools a leader can possess: expertise, composure, patience, and common sense.
  3. Maintain your level of professional ethics and all details of your own Standard of Performance.
  4. Don’t isolate yourself. Keep in mind that as troubles mount, your relationships with personnel become even more critical. They are the key to holding the staff together. (Don’t get too friendly, however. Familiarity can be deadly.)
  5. Don’t let the magnitude of the challenge take you away from the incremental steps necessary to effect change. Continue to be detail oriented.
  6. Exude an upbeat and determined attitude. Never, ever express doubt, but avoid an inappropriate sunny optimism in dark times.
  7. Don’t plead with employees to “do better.”
  8. Avoid continual threatening or chastising.
  9. Deal with your immediate superior( s) on a one-to-one, ongoing basis.

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