Could Saban’s Pledge of Excellence Lead Us All to Greater Success?

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From the economy to the environment, success depends on commitment

The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson

Now that Alabama’s achieved the ultimate success by winning the national football championship, and everybody by now should be aware of coach Nick Saban’s famous mission statement about “excellence” that made it possible, don’t you wonder what it would take to translate that lesson into other aspects of life in this state and country?


How about our stumbling economy? Our bumbling political system? Our ineffective energy and environmental policies?

Since there’s no good place available on the Web through Google to find a full text version of Saban’s mission statement for the Crimson Tide, and in case any of our readers who are not football fans missed it, I’ve grabbed it from here and retyped it to post below so anybody in the world can find it.


Nick Saban

“Our mission statement here is to create an atmosphere and environment for everyone to be able to succeed, first of all as a person. We want players to be more successful in life because they were involved in our program, by the principles and values that we’re able to develop with them so that they can be successful relative to the character and attitude they have as a football player here at this institution.

“The second thing is we want to be successful as students. I always tell players in recruiting, there’s two things that we want you to do here, you’ve got two careers: one on the field, one off the field. The one off the field means you got to graduate from college. That’s the one that’s going to have the greatest impact on the quality of your life forever. We want to have a great academic support program. We want our players to succeed as students.

“The third is this. We want them to be the best football player they can be. We want every guy to reach their full potential as a football player, play together as a team, know how important it is to be a part of a team and fulfilling your role to that team.

“The last thing is to use all the resources this institution has to help everyone launch their career when they have represented this institution, when they leave this institution, so they can be the most successful in their life because of their association with this university and the people that have made this university great.”

Saban didn’t come up with this philosophy over night. In 2004, he wrote a book called How Good Do You Want to Be?

In the how-to memoir, Saban shares his winning philosophy for creating and inspiring success, revealing things that would help anybody succeed at work and in life. He says “excellence” doesn’t happen overnight. It comes from hard work, consistency, the drive to be the best and a passion for what you do.

Some of the insights include:

Organization — Creating an environment where everybody knows his or her responsibilities, and each is responsible to the entire group.

Motivate to Dominate — Understand the psychology of teams and individuals, and use that knowledge to breed success.

No Other Way than Right — Practice ethics and values, and demand the same from your team.

Look in the Mirror — Maintain an understanding of who you are by knowing your strengths and your weaknesses.

Now, what if every member of our society — aspiring political leaders and government workers, corporate executives and workers down the line, journalists and environmental activists, educators and average students, carpenters, painters, union and non-union, plumbers and pipe-fitters and everybody else — were to take up the Saban excellence challenge?

Do you think we could turn our economy around? Create a more honest and effective political system? Take up the challenge of combating climate change due to global warming and make the planet more livable in the future, instead of what seems to be an almost suicidal drive to make it uninhabitable for future generations — for the sake of short term profits for a few executives and major stockholders?

I think it’s possible, but know it is not inevitable. Why? Because we have been doing so many things so wrong for too many years that it will take a major shift in our thinking and the way we do things to bring about significant cultural change.

The University of Alabama already had a long tradition of winning football to build on in Tuscaloosa, although the program had fallen into disrepute. The United States also has a history of success in many areas of government, media and business, although over the past few decades, we have allowed mediocrity to govern.

There is no more glaring example of mediocrity than the administration of George W. Bush. The first thing we must do is acknowledge that and not repeat the mistake.

Yet in the interest of trying to heal the political divide that keeps American down, President Barack Obama trotted Bush Jr. out yesterday and put him in charge of raising money to help the victims of the massive earthquake in Haiti, along with former President Bill Clinton. I’ve seen a lot of people suggesting prayers for the people down there, when what they really need is food, water — and a few shiploads of cranes and bulldozers to dig the survivors out of all the collapsed buildings. But with Bush and his former head of FEMA, Brownie, in charge, maybe they will need a lot of prayers.

The American people also must wake up and realize that they should not be listening to idiots like Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. They are the modern-day snake oil salesmen who help keep our political system mired in the past.

Somehow I don’t think anybody would denounce Nick Saban’s notion of putting the team over the individual as “socialism,” as Robertson, Limbaugh and the likes of Karl Rove are quite willing to do to stop the Obama administration from passing health care reform and not only providing coverage for the least amongst us, like Jesus would do, but also fixing a major part of our economic dysfunction.

Make no mistake about it. Doing something about the rising costs of health care and doing something to cover the uninsured is a critical starting point for fixing our economy.

Next, we must demand more from the press and broadcast media in this country, or even better, build a better media system in the form of the Web Press.

Over the past 30 years, chain newspapers and television news stations have become little more than tools of the anti-government, corporate Republican cabal that believes it is in their interest to destroy American democracy for the sake of their gigantic second homes in gated communities and million dollar yachts.

We like to make fun of the French in this country, but remember what they did to the monarchs over there during their Revolution? Maybe we ought to threaten something similar here if things do not start to change. The math is simple. Pay corporate executives less and workers more, and people might be able to pay their mortgages and spend some money at the mall to get the economy moving again. That’s not socialism. It is common sense economics. Some individuals must sacrifice for the team.

Perhaps if the working reporters in this country would take over the means of production and organize unions against these corporate managers, other workers in this country would be allowed to go back to the tradition of collective bargaining for better wages and working conditions, a notion that is right there in the laws of our nation from the 1930s. It saved this country from the Great Depression in the 1930s and ’40s.

Finally, there is a great deal of frustration right here in “Alabama the Beautiful” over how the state government has run environmental policy in the interest of polluting companies and not in the interest of protecting our valuable natural resources for future generations.

Fourteen environmental groups across the state took the extraordinary step this week of calling for the federal Environmental Protection Agency to intervene and takeover of the state’s water pollution permitting program because it is not meeting even the minimum requirements of the Clean Water Act.

Informed sources tell me many of these groups were reluctant to sign onto such a drastic petition, but the situation in Alabama’s poor Black Belt with all the toxic coal ash and garbage being dumped on people without the economic or political means to fight it has created a very real crisis that demands immediate action.

For many years now, both major political parties in Alabama have gone along with the likes of Alabama Power, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Drummond Coal and the rest to muck up our air and water.

The only politician in this state in my lifetime who stood up strongly for the environment was Don Siegelman, before he became governor. But the Bush Justice Department destroyed his life and career in their drive to dominate this country politically, aided and abetted by the corporate lobbyists who wanted to destroy the part of the Constitution and the legal system that gave power to juries in American courtrooms.

I suspect if enough people just took the Saban pledge of excellence and demanded an end to the partisan political bullshit, we might be able to do better. Am I holding my breath hoping it will happen over night? No. But what do you say? What if we start this right here and now with the readers of this alternative, independent news Web site. Will you take the pledge?

© 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.