“When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing.”
“Those who stay will be champions”
“If I make a mistake, I’m going to make a mistake aggressively and I’m going to make it quickly. I don’t believe in sleeping on a decision.”
“A Michigan man will coach Michigan.”
“We want the Big 10 championship. And we’re going to win it as a TEAM. They can throw out all those great backs and great quarterbacks and great defensive players throughout the country and in this conference. But there’s going to be one team that is going play solely as a team. No man is more important than the team. No coach is more important than the team. THE TEAM! THE TEAM! THE TEAM! And if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do you take into consideration what effect does it have on my team? Because you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here, you will never play for a team again. You’ll play for a contract. You’ll play for this. You’ll play for that. You’ll play for everything except the team. And think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is THE TEAM! We’re going to win it. We’re going to win the championship again because we’re going to play as a team better than anyone else in the conference. We’re going to play together as a TEAM. We’re going to believe in each other. We’re not going to criticize each other. We’re not going to talk about each other. We’re going to encourage each other! And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know it’s going to be Michigan again. Michigan!”
“Successful sports coaches seem to think that it’s part of their game plan to write books. After all, they’re celebrities of a sort and they know something about “winning” which is a popular topic with readers of all kinds.
Bo Schembechler is one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football. He coached Michigan football for twenty years, compiling a record of 234-65-8. During that time his teams won or tied for the Big Ten championship 13 times. He never had a losing season.
That’s why it’s somewhat amazing that it took so long for Bo’s Lasting Lessons to appear. But Bo Schembechler always did things his own way.
There are three big lessons in this book: values matter, keep the rules simple, and enforce them no matter what.
Values mattered for Schembechler. Honesty was the big one. He was going to be honest no matter what and he expected the same from his coaches, his players, and everyone else. The idea was simple: always do the right thing.
He kept the rules simple. He also made sure everyone who worked for him understood the rules. They included how players were to sit in team meetings and how they were expected to dress on road trips.
He enforced the rules he had. If anyone broke Bo’s rules there were consequences. And those consequences were as inevitable as nature.
Those are the big lessons, but there are lots of lessons and bits of wisdom scattered through the book. Here are some of my favorites.
If you’re the boss you have to accept the fact that you’re the bad cop and your assistants will be the good cops.
Don’t hire smart people and then not listen to their opinions.
Seek mentors, not money, especially in the early stages of your career.
Whatever your philosophy, whatever your standards, whatever your expectations, you establish those on day one. Don’t waste a second!
Recruit for character.
Develop leaders underneath you.
Goals can’t come from the top down. They’ve got to come from the people responsible for achieving them. Your job is to help them get there, and remind them every day what their goals are, and what they have to do to make their dreams come true.
Scuttle the star system. Give everyone a role and make it important.
Emphasize execution, not innovation.
There are lots more but you can find them for yourself when you read the book. I’ve got lots of things underlined, and Post-It notes dangle off lots of pages.
There are some things to watch for. First off, some of Bo’s recommendations don’t translate well to any environment other than an athletic team. Be prepared to modify them to suit.
And some things that Bo did back in the Sixties and Seventies aren’t things you can do today. Some of that involves privacy laws. Some of that is the way the world has changed. Be prepared to adapt that material, too.
Over the years, I’ve read lots of books by athletic coaches about how to achieve personal and business success. I’m almost always disappointed, but not this time.
This is an enjoyable and helpful book, in part because co-author John Bacon lets us see what I’m sure is the authentic Bo Schembechler. And Bo was a wise man and clear speaker.”
Wikipedia: Bo Schembechler