Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.


Failure as motivation

Q: After two unsuccessful seasons, Washington Redskins Coach Jim Zorn was fired from his job this week. How hard is it for people to recover from being labeled a failure? Do you think Zorn will get another chance to coach in the NFL?

Failure should never be the end of one's efforts. Rather, it should bring about more motivation to succeed. Failure provides the opportunity to ask, "What did I do wrong?" Once the question is answered carefully and objectively, the stage is set for another round of renewed effort.

In 1979, I was watching the CBS Evening News. Roger Mudd had a story about a military veteran attempting to build a national Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., but he had so far raised only $144. The person he was talking about was me.

While being rather embarrassed and humiliated, I began asking myself: What was I doing wrong? It was clear to me that I needed help.

Washingtonians, including some top graduates of West Point, joined the team. We attracted more and more talented people as the year wore on. In November 1979, legislation was introduced to authorize us to build the Memorial. By November 1982, we had received the authorization, raised the funds needed, chosen the design and built the memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day 1982.

No matter your profession, you should be engaged in it full tilt. You will probably fail from time to time. That is only natural. It is only if you do nothing that you will never fail.

As for Coach Zorn, he was probably not ready to be a head coach in the NFL. He may find a new career as a college coach. Compensation packages for coaches of top college teams can exceed $5 million a year. So no crocodile tears for Coach Zorn. He will land on his feet.

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.
--William Shakespeare

By Jan Scruggs  |  January 7, 2010; 3:58 PM ET  | Category:  failure Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: It's the approach, not the coach | Next: 3 key ingredients


Please report offensive comments below.

Nice piece Jan,

Please remember that people have a very short memory, he is a talented QB coach but I think took over a ship that was already taking on water. Coupled with with his inexperience, injuries, lack of a good front line and a dysfunctional front office spelled eminent disaster and a predictable ending for any coach.

Zorn will coach again and it will be soon and most likely in Cleveland with his old boss Mike Holmgren. If I were to find something positive about this it would be from the prospective of wealth, Jim is much better off (financially) now than he was 2 years ago. So with that in mind I would make the argument that atleast one thing good came from all of this!!

Posted by: 70chiponwhite | January 10, 2010 10:59 AM
Report Offensive Comment

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company