Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography

Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography

by Lou Holtz


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Wins, Losses, and Lessons: An Autobiography by Lou Holtz

When I die and people realize that I will not be resurrected in three days, they will forget me. That is the way it should be. For reasons known only to God, I was asked to write an autobiography. Most people who knew me growing up didn't think I would ever read a book, let alone write one.

—Lou Holtz

Few people in the history of college sports have been more influential or had a bigger impact than Lou Holtz. Winner of the three national Coach of the Year honors, the only coach ever to lead six different schools to season-ending bowl games, and the ninth-winningest coach in college football history, Holtz is still teaching and coaching, although he is no longer on the gridiron.

In his most telling work to date, the man still known as "Coach" by all who cross his path reveals what motivated a rail-thin 135-pound kid with marginal academic credentials and a pronounced speech impediment to play and coach college football, and to become one of the most sought-after motivational speakers in history. With unflinching honesty and his trademark dry wit, Holtz goes deep, giving us the intimate details of the people who shaped his life and the decisions he would make that shaped the lives of so many others.

His is a storied career, and Holtz provides a frank and inside look at the challenges he overcame to turn around the programs at William and Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, and Minnesota. From growing up in East Liverpool, Ohio, to his early days as a graduate assistant at the University of Iowa, to his national championship runs at Notre Dame and his final seasons on the sidelines in South Carolina, Lou Holtz gives his best, a poignant, funny, and instructive look into a life well lived.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060840815
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/31/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 153,059
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

After nearly three decades on the sidelines, Lou Holtz retired from coaching and now shares his strategies for success with Fortune 500 companies, groups, and organizations. He is the author of two bestsellers, The Fighting Spirit and Winning Every Day. He lives in Florida.

Read an Excerpt

Wins, Losses, and Lessons

An Autobiography
By Lou Holtz

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Lou Holtz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060840803

Chapter One

It's Not What You Have,
It's Who You Have

When I die and people realize that I will not be resurrected in three days, they will forget me. That is the way it should be. For reasons known only to God, I was asked to write an autobiography. Most people who knew me growing up didn't think I would ever read a book, let alone write one. Anyway, here goes:

I was born January 6, 1937, eight years after Wall Street crashed, and two years before John Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath, his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the plight of a family during the Great Depression. How bad was it? Well, we weren't Okies, in the sense that we weren't from Oklahoma, but in every other respect the Holtzes of West Virginia could easily have been mistaken for the Joads of the dust bowl South.

Like many children of that era, I was born at home. Hospitals were expensive, and Dr. McGraw, our local physician, made house calls, so there was never a question about where the labor and delivery would take place. My parents, Andrew and Anne Marie, rented a two-room cellar in Follansbee, West Virginia, a small steel mill town in the northernmost sliver of the state between Ohio and Pennsylvania. That's where God saw fitfor me to join this world and where I lived the early years of my life. Not that where we lived mattered much: the majority of the people in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia survived in spartan conditions similar to our own.

My father's father, Leo Holtz, had moved to Follansbee from Rossiter, Pennsylvania, about five miles from Punxsutawney, to work at Wheeling Steel. Grandpa Holtz had been a coal miner in Rossiter, where he lived in company housing and was paid in company scrip that could be redeemed only at the company store, a situation so akin to indentured servitude that it was later outlawed. It took a lot of courage for him to pick up the family and move, but if you've ever been inside a coal mine, you can understand his motivation.

My grandmother, Jenny Holtz, was a deeply spiritual woman who attended mass every day of her life. She also lost her first two children at birth, both boys she had named Andrew. When my father came along she named him Andrew as well. It must have given the Rossiter records office fits--all those birth and death certificates with the same name--but somehow my dad made it, and grew up the oldest living Holtz child. He had two sisters, Mary and Evelyn, and two brothers, my uncles Leo and John.

My father stayed in Follansbee after he married my mom, even though the work was sparse. Dad picked up odd jobs here and there, working on the railroad, driving a truck for a while, and a bus for a period. We never went without food, but like most people in town we lived on the bare minimum. I always knew I'd had plenty to eat because when I asked for more my father would say, "No, you've had plenty."

Our cellar home had a kitchen and a combination bedroom and half bath, which meant we had a sink next to the bed. We had no refrigerator, no shower or tub, and no privacy. My parents shared the bedroom with my sister and me. We bathed in the sink when we could, ate outside when the weather permitted, and slept in whatever configuration kept us warm and comfortable. We didn't have a closet, because we didn't need one. I owned one pair of overalls and one flannel shirt, an outfit I wore every day. My mother washed it on the weekends, and my father always said, "Be careful playing. If you rip a hole in your butt it will heal. A hole in those pants won't." I wish my father had listened to his own warnings. When I was in grade school, Dad spilled paint on my only shirt. Up to that point, nobody had known that I wore the same clothes every day. Other kids just assumed I owned four or five identical outfits and had no sense of style. But with paint on my shirt it became obvious that I never changed clothes.

We needed a raise to be considered poor. Every day we awoke to hardship, and every night we fell asleep thankful for one more day of sustenance. At age nine, I got a paper route. Sixty-six papers had to be delivered to sixty-six families every day. I also had to collect thirty cents a week from each customer. I owed the paper twenty cents per customer per week, and got to keep the rest. When I didn't collect, the balance came out of my profit. My average income was six dollars a week.

Every member of the family did what he or she could to help make ends meet, same as all the other families in our area. No one I ever knew used the words "disposable" and "income" in the same sentence. At age five, I got my first Coke. It was so good that I wanted it to last. Chances were pretty good that it might be three or four years before I would get another one. So after a few sips, I put the bottle in the windowsill (we didn't have an icebox, much less a refrigerator). Unfortunately, the next morning the soda was flat and stale and had to be thrown away. As a five-year-old, I suddenly understood that you should enjoy life's blessings, no matter how small, when you can, because they won't last forever.

Yes, we were poor, but we always had one another. Unlike some of today's young people, I never suffered from depression, never needed therapy, never contemplated injuring myself or others, and never fretted over all the things I didn't have. I was a . . .


Excerpted from Wins, Losses, and Lessons by Lou Holtz Copyright © 2006 by Lou Holtz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction     xi
It's Not What You Have, It's Who You Have     3
Success Is a Choice You Make     23
First Impressions Have Lasting Results     43
A Day Without Learning Is a Day Without Living     55
Setbacks Don't Define Your Goals, You Do     73
Greatness Starts with Belief and Total Commitment     89
Leading Is Easy When People Want to Be Led     109
A Halfhearted Commitment Is Worse Than No Commitment at All     127
What Behavior Are You Willing to Accept?     147
Bad Things Sometimes Happen for a Good Reason     173
Getting Rid of Excuses     199
Success Is a Matter of Faith     227
Perfection Is Possible If You Accept Nothing Less     245
All You Can Do Is All You Can Do     265
Everyone Needs Something to Look Forward To     281
Epilogue     299
Acknowledgments     305
Appendix     309
Index     312

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Wins, Losses and Lessons 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
On-the-sidelines More than 1 year ago
Lou Holtz's book is enjoyable on so many levels: intellectual, philosophical, and personal. The reader gets the ultimate insider's review of how and why coaches make decisions. College football, a game? Not in recent decades. Holtz's "...Lessons" should challenge fans, administrators, and the sport's governing bodies (primarily the NCAA) to look beyond the field of play, and to a certain degree, the financial investments in college athletics. Great teachers and coaches inspire and instruct. Average teachers and coaches drive and train. The difference in great and average is in the giving and receiving of respect; great men and women in both fields recognize the best way to teach and lead their students and athletes is through the exchange of respect. They know that the subject of the lessons is not the issue. It is the immersion of the learner into the discipline. Each field of learning is more than the sum of the words, charts and symbols. Real learning occurs when the student learns to view the world from the perspective of the body of information available about a particular subject. Discipline whether defined as "a field of study" or "conforming to a set of principles or behavior" then merges the lessons of teachers and the coaches. Lou Holtz earned respect, most likely, because he respected the young men who came to learn, earn a degree, and play on his teams. Johnny Wooden was that kind of basketball coach. Since most of my personal experience has been with basketball coaches, I measure everyone against Coach Wooden, and more recently, Phil Jackson. Lou Holtz helped me put the complete puzzle together. I see the BIG picture now. Holtz, Wooden and Jackson would be as much at home in management classes as in philosophy or sociology classes. The value added by participating in a sport is what the coach gives you. Valuing yourself and others is what you gain. Wins, Losses and Lessons is not about a life in sports. It is about life as viewed from the discipline of sports.
LesaHolstine on LibraryThing 4 days ago
Outstanding memoir and inspiration book that's more about how to live life than college football, although it has enough stories and anecdotes for any football fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Good book...great story. Great story...
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Great book for ND/Holtz fans...or just any coach of any sport. Great read.
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I bought this book for my husband. He is a huge Lou Holtz fan (and football fan), and always enjoys reading anything Lou Holtz has to say. His story and his words are very inspirational.
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BlockM More than 1 year ago
If you are a football fan and in a comfortable position in life this book can strengthen some of your thoughts and actions. Holtz is not going to change you life, but he is going to enrich someone with a solid foundation. I am not a Notre Dame fan, but continue to find Holtz as a man with great tidbits to share and as a person with a well-rounded manner to live your life. I will certainly consider reading further Holtz books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An inside look at the life of a big time college coach.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Lou Holtz can write as good as he coachs. I learned things that I didn't know about Lou Holtz. Its the the best sports book I've ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a great account of the life of Lou Holtz. His wit and wisdom is very entertaining and educational. However, his talk of the University of Notre Dame once again shows why even though there are many Notre Dame fans, there are just as many haters. Coach Holtz makes it as if Notre Dame is the only football program in America that holds its student athletes to the highest of standards.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book ! Most of us know Lou Holtz was a successful football coach at Notre Dame . However, I found that I knew little about the man himself : what made him move from university to university, how did his family handle the transitions and how did he approach each new football program he was hired to lead ? This very easy to read and enjoy book tells it all . I find Lou Holtz to be a very entertaining author and a very inspiring individual . This book contains some very revealing insights into the man : his relationships and his spirituality . I flew through this book and found it a very rewarding read .