While in graduate school, a psychology professor asked the class to draw a line across the middle of the paper. He asked us to write down, above the line, three people that have helped shape who we are — that have helped us feel good about who we are. He also asked to list three names below the line, that have negatively contributed to how we see ourselves.

The purpose of the exercise was to reflect on the way that people “coached” us from an “above the line” perspective.

Coach Tom Osborne is an above the line coach — for tens-of-thousands of men and women. His deep care for others is apparent in the way he conducts his life — and his life efforts.

Thomas William “Tom” Osborne (born February 23, 1937) is a former American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and politician from Nebraska. He served as the head football coach at the University of Nebraska football team for 25 years, from 1973 to 1997. Osborne was one of the most successful coaches in American college football history, with a career record of 255–49–3, 13 conference championships, and three national championships. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1999.

Osborne was later elected U.S. Representative from Nebraska’s 3rd congressional district, as a Republican. He served three terms, from 2001 to 2007. In 2007, he returned to the University of Nebraska as athletic director (AD). He retired as AD in January 2013.

He lives a life of love and purpose — and is deeply devoted to his faith, his wife and children, and the service of mentoring others. You can learn about Coach Osborne’s mission at TeamMates.org.


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“The best way to change behavior was to catch somebody doing something right and to reinforce that.”Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 10.03.12 AM

In This Episode:

  • Why he got into athletics
  • Getting his start with the Nebraska football program
  • Re-designing the offense and becoming the eventual head coach
  • Being a driven person and always needing to be in the action
  • Moving from transactional leadership to transformational leadership
  • Way he coached his players
  • Formulating a philosophy with his coaching staff
  • Cost of success at a major college football program
  • How he’s trying to grow his new foundation
  • The idea of service and how it’s guided his life
  • The role fear of failure played in his life



Co Founder at |

Thomas William Osborne is a former American football player, coach, college athletics administrator, and politician from Nebraska. He served as the head football coach at the University of Nebraska football team for 25 years, from 1973 to 1997



  • […] the last five seasons of his coaching career. During the interview with Michael Gervais of Finding Mastery, Tom Osborne talks about growing up, becoming a man, and how he almost didn’t become the […]
  • […] He is considered by many to be the greatest football coach of all time, and someone who lives with character and integrity.  Osborne shares some fascinating insights about what made him so successful in the Finding Mastery Podcast  […]
  • Armstrong said, "It's us against the world." NO!!! It's not. The world is not out to get you. For the Cornhuskers, it is (or has been) US against US. They've beaten themselves with mistakes, turnovers, penalties, lack of discipline, ect. It's not just Tommy. Penalties, Turnovers, Mental Mistakes, ect have plagued this team throughout the Pelini era and even worse this year. Quit saying "It's us against the world." and focus on getting better. Focus on being disciplined. Focus on YOUR job, your responsibilities. The world is for you, not against you. A successful Nebraska is good for the fans, good for Nebraska, good for the Big Ten Conference, good for ESPN and the Big Ten Network, good for College Football, and good for the "Nice Guy Coaches" like Tom Osborne, Frank Solich, Mike Riley. The coaches are on your side, the administration is on your side, the fans are on your side, THE WORLD is on your side. Quit fighting it.