In this week's Words to Gump By, I feel like we're stepping through a time-warp. As someone that wasn't even born when Coach Bryant passed, I'm continually amazed when I see the remarkable overlap between Bryant and Saban. It's crazy to see two guys from such different eras be so clearly cut from the same cloth. Whether Bama seeks out coaches with this personality, or merely attracts them, the program has obviously been fortunate to have these men stalking the sidelines.
Now, on to this week's quote from the Bear:
It's not the will to win that matters...everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters.
Now, if I had not told you that Paul Bryant said that line, you may easily have assumed that it was the words of our own benevolent dictator, Nick Saban, leading me to think that perhaps there's something more to this overlap, since the explanation that Saban likely viewed Bryant as a giant of the profession and was impacted by his messages is much too simplistic for high-thinkers such as ourselves. No, there must be some other, more mystical, explanation at play. Saban isn't nearly young enough for reincarnation to be viable, so we'll have to assume that it is the result of some sort of voodoo magic. We'll have bring in an expert (Fitty) to analyse this further.
All kidding aside. This quote really cuts to the core of Saban and Bryant's philosophies - that everything is in the preparation. It also deftly illustrates a skill common to great men: the ability to take a fundamental truth and present it in a way that at once fills the listener with a sense of enlightenment and understanding. It immediately makes one come to terms with the fact that your desire to succeed is not unique to you, nor is it sufficient on its own. Instantly, you know deep down that you need to do more, and more importantly, you have a sense of what that "something more" is.
In the modern era, no coach personifies this quote more than Nick Saban. He puts a heavy emphasis on practicing hard and with intensity, and eschews reliance on exterior motivations, such as rankings or scoreboards. The results of this methodology are undeniable, and serve as a testament not only to The Process™, but also to timelessness of Bryant's message.
I really enjoy this quote and it reminds me of an anecdote I once heard of an archery student that was struggling to hit his mark. The teacher noticed his struggling and told him, "you miss the target because you are thinking about the target, rather than your actions."
I feel like the underlying intention of this recurring piece is to not only look at a nice quote, but to also try to understand how it applies to each of us on an individual basis in everyday life. What goals do you have, and what are you doing to prepare for them? Are you spending time focusing on the targets of life, at the expense of proper form? What can you do, starting today, to begin to rectify that?
Gump hard, my friends. And may we all have the strength to put in the work necessary to capitalize on our will to win.