"So What Now What"

So What Now What

A phrase that we coined at the University of Alabama Football program is "So What Now What." It was a phrase that Coach Nick Saban and Coach Scott Cochran used constantly during the 2015 National Championship run. It was also the quote that Coach Burton Burns put on a tweet that went viral, showing him wearing all of his Alabama Championship rings, a pose our star running back Derek Henry encouraged him to do.

I have written and talked much about the end of the phrase, "Now What." But it is time to talk about the front end of the phrase, "So What." The beginning of the phrase is about removing mental clutter and cleansing the mind.

When the Alabama football team defeated beat Notre Dame in the National Championship, in the ESPN post-game show Kirk Herbstreit said that Coach Nick Saban brings in a Dr. Elko to brainwash the players. And I was mad. I asked myself, "What does that mean, 'I brainwash the players'?" But then I thought, "That is exactly what I do: I wash their brains." Do you ever wash your brain?

I once asked my grandmother, who was a strong Christian, what made her become a Christian, and she said, "One day I got out of the bathtub and felt really clean on the outside and wished I could feel that clean on the inside. Becoming a Christian helped me find a way to wash and become clean on the inside." Do you have a way to wash and become clean on the inside?

So I ask myself, "When something happens, so what?" For example, there are a few things I do not like about getting older; for one thing, I don't like that I can sneeze and pull a muscle. I can relate to the comedian Billy Crystal saying that he doesn't like it that, when he gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, it is in Morse Code.

But there are a few things I do like about getting older. There is a column in my head called "It Doesn't Matter." As I get older, that column gets bigger. For example, if somebody doesn't like me, it doesn’t matter: what you think of me is none of my business; I still like you. If somebody criticizes something I said, it doesn't matter: As the apostle Paul once said, "I don't even criticize myself; I let the Holy Spirit criticize me." Start saying aloud, "It doesn't matter," especially when it doesn't matter. If you have nothing to gain, why fight, why freak out, why argue? Just say, "So what," and "It doesn't matter." Start cleaning your mind.

Here is another cleanser. My wife was watching the movie "Pitch Perfect 2," which is about four college-aged singers who enter a contest but are so bad they are thrown off the stage. Of the four singers, two are American and two are third-world refugees. One of the Americans say, "This is the worst thing that ever happened to me!" One of the refugee girls says, "I had diarrhea once for seven years." Then, the other refugee girl says, "My brother once tried to sell me for a chicken." Here comes the cleanser "so-what" phrase: "Compared to what?" You are having a bad day? You are being treated unfairly? Compared to what?

Here is one more cleanser phrase (I honestly get most of these from my wife). As we were riding bikes together on Memorial Day, she said, "I have been saying something to myself that has changed my point of view and has acted as a mental 'so what.' Before, I used to say, 'I have to do the laundry,' and now I say, 'I get to do the laundry.' I used to say, 'I have to drive the kids somewhere,' and now I say, 'I get to.' That simple change in language has changed my entire attitude – is that good or what?"

That night I was flying out of Pittsburgh to work the next morning with the Philadelphia Eagles. I was pouting because I was flying out the night of a holiday, but I changed what I was saying in my head. Instead of saying, "I have to fly out tonight," I said, "I get to fly out." So then I thought, "Thank God somebody wants to hear what I have to say and is even paying me for it; I don’t have to; I get to."

A good friend who has cancer was going for his first chemo treatment. I called him and said, "You don't have to do chemo; you get to. First, thank God the doctors found it; secondly, you get to give your two sons a chance to see what a strong man you are, and you get a chance to model for your sons as they become men." You get to . . . "so what."

However, I think the strongest mental cleanser statement is the first line of our new book "The Sender." The entire book could be titled "So What Now What." It’s a book dedicated to removing mental blocks and spiritual strongholds. Here is the opening to the book: "There is no self-pity in me today." If you whisper that under your breath, you’ll feel cleansed and stronger.

Be your own sender. Send yourself a message every morning that clears your mind. Start out the day saying, "It really doesn't matter," or "Compared to what?" or "I get to . . . ." You also could try "I'm not blessed – you are blessed when your diarrhea stops after seven years" or "I am favored." "So What Now What."

About the Author

Dr. Kevin Elko
Dr. Kevin Elko has served as a performance consultant for The Pittsburgh Steelers, The Dallas Cowboys, The Philadelphia Eagles, The Miami Dolphins, The New Orleans Saints, L.S.U. Football, The University of Miami Football, The University of Alabama Football, The University of Nebraska Football, Rutgers Football and The Pittsburgh Penguins. He has five books published: Nerves of Steel, The Pep Talk, True Greatness, Touchdown and his latest The Sender from Worthy Press. Dr. Elko is a frequent guest on the show NFL 32 on ESPN with Chris Mortensen and The Paul Finebaum show on The SEC Network.