If you focus on the process-how to get it done-rather than on the result, you always win. Winning matters, I won't lie, but you can't predict whether you're going to win or not. What you can do, though, is respect the road you must travel that is most likely to get you that win. In football, that means practicing hard every day, enjoying the effort you expend and the way your body feels at the end of the day, and taking care of yourself off the field, too, making sure that you get enough sleep, that you're eating right, getting yourself mentally set. I tell my players all the time that if they think about doing all those things to their best ability every single day, then on game day the rest will take care of itself. It puts the pressure on the preparation instead of the end result. I know that on Sunday, either we're ready or we're not.
It's something I learned from Tony Dungy when we were in Tampa. He and I are both old school. We have the same philosophy and believe that the same things are important. We both believe in fundamental football and winning in a simple kind of way. We both believe in how you do things rather than what happens because good things will come if you do things right.
If you think about it, you can't have success without the journey, without the process of getting to that successful point. That's why it's so important to make that journey your focal point.
Say you set a goal of losing 20 pounds. Okay, that's good. What's your plan? Well, you say, I'm going to exercise every day for an hour, cut out cakes and cookies, and eat salads and fish. Okay, that's your plan. You're ready to go. So day one comes and goes and you're stepping on the scale, and you don't see any difference. Day two comes and goes, and the same thing. Well, now you're frustrated; you're ready to give up and say it's no use. That's because you're focusing on the scale, not on the daily plan. Keep your thoughts on eating right and exercising right, and I guarantee that if you follow through, that weight will come off at some point. It might not be as quick as you want it to be, but if you respect the 'how to get it done,' then eventually you'll hit that goal.
Or say you're writing a big report. A huge report. It's supposed to be hundreds of pages long, and you have a deadline. You're gripping, you're panicked because how are you possibly going to write hundreds of pages in that amount of time? You spend more time worrying about that deadline than if you just sat down and wrote, say, 10 pages every day. If you keep doing that every day, sitting at the computer and writing those 10 pages, you will have that project done before you know it. You know you can't wait until the last minute, because it would be impossible to get it done. You set a plan, you formulate a process, and you keep yourself on schedule.
There have been many times during a season when I, myself, have had to keep myself focused on what we were doing every single day, rather than jump ahead to Sunday. Sometimes that's meant going back to fundamentals: working on footwork, lateral moves, special teams. But every day I commit myself to that process because I know that if we do everything right, we'll find a way to win that game Sunday. Of course it hasn't always worked. But that doesn't mean you throw out the process. You tweak it, you add a few things, you change this here and there, but you keep at it, every day, to the best of your ability mentally and physically. That way, even if you lose the game, you've gained knowledge and self-satisfaction.