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Tom Osbourne speaks about his four Principles of Success


Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Updated: Sunday, December 15, 2013 12:12

Tom Osborne, former head coach of the Nebraska Huskers, spoke to University of Nebraska at Omaha students last Tuesday and shared his life secrets on how to live a successful life: begin with the end in mind.

 “What would you want a friend, a colleague or a family member to say about you? Write your own obituary,” Osborne said. “Then look carefully at those things written out. On that piece of paper will be the things that will be important to you at the end.”

 The former congressman and Nebraska athletic director spoke with gerontology students, student athletes and faculty members about establishing a culture of excellence in their own lives.

 “All organizations develop a culture, whether by design or not,” Osborne said.

During his coaching career at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he said the coaches focused on four principles that created the culture of Nebraska – the nation’s most successful college football program in the last 50 years.

 First, Osborne mentioned the principle of the integrity. He stressed that integrity is not a trait, it is a choice.

 “You essentially choose your character,” Osborne said. “You have a choice every day to tell the truth or not. Where there is integrity, there will be trust, which is a priceless commodity these days.”

 Second, Osborne said to invest in your future by setting goals. The players, not the coaches, would set the team goals each season.

 “The players would buy into their goals and take ownership for their responsibilities,” he said. “90 percent of their goals were hit, and most of them weren’t easy like having an undefeated season or winning the national championship.”

 Third, Osborne said the greatest teacher of all was adversity. He then shared a story about a man who ran for governmental office eight times and lost every election. That man was Abraham Lincoln.

 “You can react to adversity one of three ways,” he said. “You can quit, you can blame someone else or you can find the opportunity.”

 He encouraged the audience to be like Abraham Lincoln and instead of quitting, to learn something from every mistake.

 Lastly, Osborne spoke about finding balance in life. He said the ancient Greeks defined the human experience as physical, intellectual and spiritual.

 He said he encouraged the players to pursue spirituality, which didn’t have to be religion in a traditional sense.

“We wanted to make sure there was something in their lives that was bigger than themselves,” he said.

 Osborne ended his speech by urging students and faculty to order their lives in such a way “that the things you want to be said about you at the end are said.”

 Osborne’s speech was the second lecture in the Dr. Chuck Powell Memorial Lecture Series.

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