The Score Takes Care of Itself – Bill Walsh

I prefer basketball over football but I am a fan of Bill Walsh and his philosophy on leadership. This book is about being a leader, implementation, hard work, practice, and setting a standard. And, if you teach others, teach them how to be as great as they can be.


  1. Do all the right things to precision and the score will take care of itself.
  2. It’s often the case that a “game-changer” takes a while to change the way the game is played.
  3. Success doesn’t care which road you take to get to its doorstep.
  4. Be bold. Remove the fear of the unknown.
  5. Respect the past without clinging to it.
  6. Desperation should not drive innovation.
  7. Instead of looking for reasons you can’t make something work, find solutions that would make it succeed.
  8. Be obsessive in looking for the upside in the downside.
  9. You cannot think as clearly or perform as well when engulfed by stress, anxiety, fear, tension, or turmoil. You are not at your best. Believing you are, creates a false sense of confidence that can lead to slipshod preparation.
  10. The final score of a football game is decided, on average, according to the following percentages: 20% is due to luck, such as a referee’s bad call. Walsh accepted the fact that he couldn’t control that 20% of each game. However, 80% can be controlled by planning and preparation.
  11. When you prepare for everything, you’re ready for anything.
  12. No one can afford to get locked into one way of doing things.
  13. 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.
  14. Don’t try to prove you are right and don’t try to prove someone else is wrong. They amount to about the same thing and often lead to the same place: defeat.
  15. A leader must have a vision – a goal.
  16. What is inexcusable is to fail because you are unwilling to admit that your way was the wrong way and that a change , of course, is your only path to victory.
  17. One of the great leadership challenges is to recognize when hubris has you in its grip before it’s too late to change.
  18. A leader must never quit but know when to quit.
  19. Good logic, sound principles, and strong belief are the purest and most productive reasons for pushing forward when things get rough.
  20. Do your job and do it the right way.
  21. Trust others to carry out your fundamental duties.
  22. It’s easy to get caught up in or enamored of lofty titles, praise, and flattery as you subconsciously attempt to become the character others have created out of who you are. The character isn’t you. You are allowing others, oftentimes uninformed others, to tell you who you are.
  23. The real damage occurs when you start to believe that future success will come your way automatically because of the great ability of this caricature you have suddenly become. That’s when you get lazy and let your guard down. When that happens, you are not a genius but a genuine fool.
  24. There are winners, and there are people who like to be winners but just don’t know how to do it.
  25. Most things in life require good teaching so it’s unfortunate that more people don’t spend the time and through required to do it effectively.
  26. To be a good teacher: Passion, expertise, communication, and persistence.
  27. Walsh’s fundamental source of personal joy was consumed by the process of developing the abilities of others.
  28. Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize.
  29. Don’t let the magnitude of the challenge take you away from the incremental steps necessary to effect change.
  30. People matter most – more than equipment, investors, inventions, momentum, or X’s and O’s.
  31. People are most comfortable with how they are being treated when their duties are laid out in specific detail.
  32. While you should exhibit flexibility in the work environment to accommodate the need of employees, you should be inflexible with regard to your expectations of their performance.
  33. Don’t get all worked up and stressed out by everything. Stay loose.
  34. The way to kill time is to work it to death.
  35. Crying on somebody’s shoulder, if it’s the wrong “somebody,” can have negative repercussions.
Make the most of what you've got.
*I take no credit for any of these points.

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