‘The Score Takes Care of Itself’
Bill Walsh on What It Means to Be a Leader
The term “game changer” gets tossed around so much these days that it no longer seems to hold enough weight to describe a legendary coach like Bill Walsh. But how do you describe someone who quite literally changed the way football is played on the highest level? It takes incredible willpower to defy conventional wisdom and turn a struggling team into a powerhouse. In Walsh’s memoir on leadership, “The Score Takes Care of Itself,” he explores the philosophy that guided him through his coaching career and led him to success. Working with award-winning author Steve Jamison, the two distill Walsh’s decades of experience into a comprehensive guide that can be used by coaches and CEOs alike. One theme throughout the book is the idea that sound fundamentals trump instincts. As Walsh aptly puts it, “Hearing someone described as being able to ‘fly by the seat of his pants’ always suggests to me a leader who hasn’t prepared properly and whose pants may soon fall down.” For long-term success, you have to have a game plan. For Walsh, preparation for leadership begins by bracing yourself for the worst. A mantra repeated throughout the book is “expect defeat.” In business and in football, losses are just a fact of life; how you prepare for and respond to these crises will determine your team’s success. But the most valuable element of leadership in Walsh’s eyes is how you treat the members of your team. You need to have the courage to let them know you believe in them. Using simple but earnest positive reinforcement, this legendary coach turned the 49ers into an incredible team, and the benefits show. Segments of the book contain anecdotes and reflections from players such as Joe Montana and Randy Cross, whose deep admiration for their former leader speak volumes. “The Score Takes Care of Itself” was published posthumously. Walsh’s son, Craig, did much of the legwork to piece this definitive portrait together. What we are left with is a truly insightful read from one of the most innovative, inspiring minds in sports history. It will be a long time before a book like this comes around again.
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