A Living Legend’s Five-Step Formula for Winning in Life

Arena Men,

Winning with Class.

For the past two decades I have lived in McMinnville, Oregon, the home of college football’s longest winning streak (all divisions) at 65 years, by Linfield University! It was an honor to have living legend Ad Rutchsman on the Men in the Arena Podcast. On it we discussed the book about his life, Winning with Class: The Story of Hall of Fame Coach Ad Rutchsman, his 24-year contribution to the streak as Linfield’s head coach, and impact on a myriad of others through the young men he coached.

Ad’s #32 jersey was retired in 1953 from Linfield where he still holds the career rushing of 3,761 yards, and earned twelve varsity letters—football, baseball, and basketball. But he is most famously known as Linfield University’s head football coach from 1968-1991 where he never had a losing season, coached the Wildcats to three national championships football and one in baseball, making him the only coach to ever win college national championships in more than one sport. He continues to coach special teams as a volunteer—where at 90 he continues to model the victorious life and what he taught to thousands of young men throughout his illustrious career. 

Even more impressive is the fruit of his career. Over 120 of Ad’s athletes went on to become high school head coaches, 18 became head college coaches, and one became an NFL coach. When Ad walks into a room, people hang on his every word. He reminds me of Job while reflecting on his earlier life said:

“When I went out to the gate of the city,
When I took my seat in the square,
The young men saw me and hid themselves,
And the old men arose and stood.
“The princes stopped talking
And put their hands on their mouths;
The voice of the nobles was hushed,
And their tongue stuck to their palate.
Job 29:7-10


When I heard that a book about his life and winning recipe had been written, I had to get my hands on a copy. I devoured it cover to cover. In it, Ad shares the secrets he instituted to impact so many lives, which I am passing on to you. 

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
Ad’s coaching philosophy started with certain principles that he still teaches to all who will listen. No one, Ad insists, sets out to lose but why is winning so elusive to some? He believes that to reach any goal in life requires one to hold in high regard the principle of preparation. While everyone wants to win, not everyone is willing to do what is necessary to win. Preparedness is equipping yourself to do your best, and by failing to prepare yourself or your team you are preparing to fail like 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

Preparation takes tremendous discipline and when it is lacking, according to Rutschman, it’s linked to a lack of clear focus, desire, persistence, and inner strength. Preparation paired with discipline are prerequisites to Coach Rutschman’s 5-step formula for success, a system he relied upon when it came to reaching goals. He felt that a step-by-step system was a vital part of performance change.

The 5-step formula for success.

1. Set a goal and write it down. Write it down and shout it from the rooftops. Last year I set physical goals of bench pressing 225 lbs. in for 20 reps and doing 20 pull ups. I accomplished the former and I’m working on the latter. In 2022 I plan on doing 65,000 push-ups, and recruiting men to join me and keep me accountable for 200 push-ups a day, six days a week, 365 days.

2. Build a plan to achieve the goal. I like to “reverse engineer” all goals by working backward from the goal to day one, writing down every step needed on my journey towards success.

3. Consider whether you believe in the plan. Is this goal achievable and is my plan realistic? S.M.A. R.T. Goals setting stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time specific. I have found that in the early phases for goal accomplishment most plans need tweaks, honest assessment, and a detailed plan of action.

4. Put the plan into action. It is go time. At some point the mouth stops talking, the pen stops writing, and the body starts moving. At some point on January 1, 2022 I will have to do push up #1, then #2, all the way to 200.

5. Stick with the plan and do not deviate. There will be days missed. Short term goals neglected often requiring major catching up, which is why so few are willing to actually see the work to the end. But not you. You’ve got this. With 2021 ending and January looming ahead there is NO BETTER TIME to consider what you will do to make 2022 the greatest year of your life!

When you get it—everyone around you wins! 

Implement the formula.

You can listen to our full interview with Ad here. Subscribe to the Men in the Arena Podcast and join men from around the world who are becoming their best version.

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Becoming His Best Version,