Tony DeMeo

The Winners Manual By Jim Tressel

Jim Tressel was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He came up through the ranks of college football via hard work. His Dad, Lee Tressel was a legend at Baldwin Wallace University and coached BW to a national championship in 1978. Jim & his Dad are the only Father/Son combo to accomplish this feat. Jim developed The Winners Manual while the Head Coach at Youngstown State University. It evolved over the years and it is without question one of the best texts on leadership you’ll ever get your hands on. Jim Tressel knows what successful leadership is all about. His teams at YSU won FOUR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS and his 2002 Team at OSU won the DIA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. His overall record as a Head Football Coach is 218-76-2. After reading The Winners Manual it’s easy to see why he is so successful.

In Part One: The Game Plan – Tressel explains the development of The Winners Manual & the people who influenced Jim’s philosophy of success. Obviously his Dad had a huge influence on Jim, but another big influence was John Wooden. Tressel studied Wooden’s famous “Pyramid of Success” & adapted Wooden’s definition of Success. Tressel also made it a practice to study one week a year to study a coach. Like Wooden the heart of Tressel’s Philosophy is TEAM, and the attitude of gratitude is the basis of TEAM. You must be a Team Player to win. The Team comes 1st. Guys who worry about their stats or their “touches” don’t belong at Ohio State. All effort must be directed to the group.

The “BLOCK O” is made up of Purpose on the Top Half & Goals on the Bottom Half. The key is not to confuse Purpose & Goals. Purpose is BEING & Goals are DOING. This is a simple way to organize the 6 key areas of your life. Purpose involves spiritual, personal, & caring. Goals are about fitness, football & academics.

THE BIG TEN FUNDAMENTALS are the nuts and bolts of the manual.

  1. ATTITUDE – a positive mental is a must. Tressel talks of 3 components of attitude: #1 Gratitude – count your blessings, not being committed to excellence is being ungrateful for your talent. #2 Humility – winning & losing with grace. Staying on an even keel. #3 Enthusiasm – get excited about the moment. Enthusiasm is contagious.
  2. DISCIPLINE – doing things right all the time. Being committed to the process. To FOCUS on the now. To focus in practice is the way to get better. To be at your best NOW. Distractions are past or future thinking.
  3. EXCELLENCE – it’s not an act but a habit. Excellence is adding to those around you. The test of Excellence is consistency. It’s about Detail. Know the game in detail.
  4. FAITH & BELIEF – the foundation of all growth. Belief is what you do with your faith.
  5. WORK – isn’t who you are, it’s what you do. What you say means zip unless backed by work. Long hours doesn’t = success. Two areas: #1- Persistence- key to success in any endeavor. Learn from setbacks & move on. #2 –Toughness- everyone has a plan until they get hit. Players break down mentally 1st.
  6. HANDLING ADVERSITY & SUCCESS – learn from adversity. Treat adversity like a stepping stone. Be alert for the “We have arrived syndrome” – it makes you ripe for an upset. Sometimes we celebrate too early. The key is to stay in the NOW.
  7. LOVE – concern for man & his fate. Purpose before goals. You must BE before you can DO. Two components of Championship Teams are LOVE & DISCIPLINE. From Love Discipline will follow. Love of Teammates is the reason to lay it on the line & be disciplined. When you help someone up a hill you also get to the top.
  8. RESPONSIBILITY – be responsible & Do right. With tradition comes responsibility. It’s a PRIVILEDGE to play at OSU. Integrity & Truth – hold yourself to a higher standard. “Every choice you make makes you.” John Wooden. Class – how you carry yourself tells the world what you think of yourself. Be Humble – “He who exalts himself shall be humbled & he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Your talent is a gift from God.
  9. TEAM – ALL great teams are unselfish. Every bad decision is being selfish. Being supportive, pulling together & putting the team 1st are the traits of Champions.
  10. HOPE – carries us when things aren’t going smoothly. Hope puts faith to work. Leaders keep hope alive. A leader must be a “Dealer of Hope’

Coach Tressel’s last section is called Game Changers which is about people who have been inspiring people. The tribute to Lee Tressel by son Jim was special. Lee Tressel won the DIII national championship and was the type of coach that movies were made about. He was beyond Xs & Os he was about people.

The Winners Manual is a great read for any leader but for a football coach it is invaluable. Jim Tressel uses his experiences and the lessons he has absorbed over his outstanding coaching career and passes it on in a complete package.