Power Players

Legendary coach Bill Belichick: Winning isn't 'all about talent' and 4 other hard-earned lessons on success


For legendary NFL coach Bill Belichick, winning is pretty much second nature.

His team, the New England Patriots, has one of the best records in the sport and is looking to secure its sixth Super Bowl title this Sunday.

"He is an unsentimental evaluator of people and doesn't let anything get in the way of their performance," says CNBC contributor Suzy Welch on "Power Lunch." "And he's got the Super Bowl rings to prove that that works."

In 2017, she spoke with the NFL coach in a rare, wide-ranging interview that touched on a number of topics, including his leadership skills, his keys to winning and his thoughts on star quarterback, Tom Brady.

Here's his advice on achieving success.

Belichick: You have to count on the most dependable people
Belichick: You have to count on the most dependable people

Choose your team wisely

Over the years, Belichick has relied increasingly on the "dependables" of his team, or the ones whom he trusts most to perform under pressure, as opposed to using the most flashy star athletes.

"There have been times when I've put too much responsibility on people. ... They might have been the most talented, or the people you hoped would do the right or best thing, and they didn't come through," Belichick says to CNBC. That's a huge mistake, he admits.

"You have to go with the person who you have the most confidence in, the most consistent," Belichick says. "And if it doesn't work, it doesn't work, but I'm going down with that person."

Support your people at work and at home

Belichick also revealed during the interview that it's important to care about your employees' personal lives and to help when possible. That way, they can perform their best at work.

"There are a lot of things that affect what happens on the field that occur off the field," he says. [The players] have wives and girlfriends. And they have babies. And they have personal situations. They have parents that are sick. All of it runs in together.

"The more you and the organization can help take care of personal situations," he adds, "the smoother the ship runs on the football end."

Bill Belichick: What I learned about leadership
Bill Belichick: What I learned about leadership

Select your career based on passion

Belichick, who grew up idolizing his father's own successful career as a coach, says the most important aspect of selecting a job is to have passion for it.

"If there is something that's your passion when you're young, do it. Let everything else take care of itself," he says. "Don't pick a career for money or some other reason. Do what you love, because it will never feel like work."

Work hard every day to achieve your goals

Once you do select your career, you may find you're not the most naturally talented. If that's the case, recognize that early and put in the hours to succeed. That's what quarterback Tom Brady has done over the years, says Belichick, who he explains "is not a great natural athlete ... not even close."

"But nobody's worked harder than Tom," Belichick says. "He's trained hard. He's worked hard on his throwing mechanics, on his mental understanding of the game. He's earned everything he's achieved."

Success, he says, "is not all about talent. It's about dependability, consistency, being coachable and understanding what you need to do to improve."

Bill Belichick shares the life-changing advice he got from his dad
Bill Belichick shares the life-changing advice he got from his dad

Stay in the present

Another key piece of advice from Belichick and something he teaches his players: Always live in the moment.

"It's one day at a time," he explains. "We don't talk about last year. We don't talk about next week. We don't talk about next year.

"We talk about today and we talk about the next game," Belichick says. "And that's all we can really control. The rest of it will take care of itself."

Prepare for any outcome

Belichick believes that the game is won or lost before you hit the field, which is why preparation is key. The NFL coach watches the film of his players and creates scenarios and strategies for each one of these scenarios.

"He has a methodology for winning," says Welch, and he has a "super-human fixation on preparation."

She adds, "He does not leave anything to chance."

This article was originally published February 2, 2018 and has been updated. 

See also:

4 things Bill Belichick asks the Patriots to do every day

Bill Belichick rarely takes time off, and it could be key to his success

Bill Belichick reveals his 5 rules of exceptional leadership

Bill Belichick on his career-defining moment at age 23
Bill Belichick on his career-defining moment at age 23

This is an updated version of a previously published story.

Disclosure: NBC Sports is televising Sunday's Super Bowl.