The Score Takes Care of Itself

I just finished reading the book The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh. Bill Walsh was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, where he won three Super Bowls, and the Stanford football team.

The book is a mix of Bill sharing his leadership principles and the people around him, including his coaching staff and his players, sharing their experiences working with Bill. Although the examples outlined in the book are drawn from football, the leadership principles which emerge as a result of these examples are equally valid for leadership in other areas like business and government.

The gist of the book is that, rather than focus on external measures of achievement, successful leaders focus on internal measures of success. They do the right thing by, among others, working hard, planning, paying attention to detail, setting up a meritocracy, rewarding substance over style, and attracting people with the same values. Once this system, which Bill refers to as his Standard of Performance, is in place, external measures of achievement follow.

Bill’s core observation that you succeed by identifying and continually improving your fundamentals, rather than trying to get to an externally valued destination, resonates with my experiences. I’ve done well when I’ve done the former, and not done well when I’ve done the latter.

I strongly recommend the book to people in all walks of life who want to be their best self at what they’re doing.


Also published on Medium.