A Wood-Chopping Process
Meet Psych Central’s odd(est) couple — Gretchen Rubin and Nick Saban.
Rubin is a New York Times best-selling author, producing self-improvement tomes like The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Saban is Alabama’s head football coach, collecting national championships like you and I collect stamps. Or parking tickets.
Eyebrows arched, you are likely wondering what Rubin — noted happiness guru — and Saban — noted joyless taskmaster — have in common. For the record, Rubin is not designing a new defensive scheme to neutralize still-galloping Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. And Saban is not producing a cheerful memoir recalling Bama’s football hits interspersed with pithy sayings.
But Rubin and Saban do espouse a similar life philosophy: one that fosters success both on and off the field.
“Failure Is Fun”
Plowing through Rubin’s The Happiness Project, her “failure is fun” mantra elicited a head shake. Doesn’t Rubin know that failure is disappointing, disheartening — even demoralizing. It is blood, sweat, and a lot of tears. And not always in that order.
In our professional and personal life, failure stings — piercing our already fragile self-concept. It shadows and torments, fueling pangs of self-doubt. For perfectionists, failure — or even its possibility — induces a numbing paralysis. “Am I making the right decision?” we question. Repeatedly.
Facing unmeetable expectations, we hesitantly approach the great unknown. The great unknown can be a career transition, academic program, or even a first date. Fearing failure — or its unmistakable scent, we retreat into the familiar. A safe place is more than a PC term; it signifies our yellow light approach to life.
And this is when Saban — grimace and all — arrives. College football’s resident taskmaster, Saban comes across as robotic — even joyless. When he isn’t curt, he condescends. But between his mocking eyerolls and verbal lashings, there is one constant — as any ‘Bama loyalist can attest.
Trust the Process
In his grab-bag of cliches, this is Saban’s modus operandi. At first blush, Trust the Process seems more contrived than championship. But Trust the Process makes — wait for it — failure fun. Or at least as fun as it can be under dictatorial Nick.
King Nick believes a result-oriented approach stunts progress. In fact, he never discusses national championships, SEC titles, or poll rankings. Instead, Saban emphasizes consistent preparation through obtuse sayings: dominate your box. Be where your feet are. Keep chopping wood. In college football’s crucible, The Process has delivered — five national championships to be exact.
“It’s about committing yourself to being the best you can be on that particular day,” Saban intones. “Improvement is a steady march.”
So make a mistake. Struggle. Even fail. Because failure is a steady march to great — for best-selling authors, Hall of Fame coaches, and, yes, a committed you.
Loeb, M. (2018). A Wood-Chopping Process. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/a-wood-chopping-process/