Jan Scruggs
Memorial founder

Jan Scruggs

Founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.


Learn from failure

Q: What do you do when your best effort fails? BP has ended its "Top Kill" attempt to stop the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, and will focus on containment. When a plan didn't work for you, did you quit, or keep on trying? Would you approach the issue in the same way today?

I am known as a person who simply does not quit. I learn from my failures, then I regroup and change tactics. This is how the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built in record time -- in spite of an inauspicious start, when fundraising was slow and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund was the butt of jokes on the evening news.

When I fail, I recognize that this means my efforts were not the best course of action in the situation. I can look for others to blame, and to be honest, that is a very human reaction to failure. But with a more mature and sober mind, I can admit that the failure is my fault and responsibility.

This does nothing for my self-esteem, but being honest with oneself has its own rewards. This attribute is something that most successful people develop -- the ability to take the blame for their errors with as much grace as they take the applause for good work. Casting blame on others is a loser's approach.

I have had my share of defeats and quite regrettable errors, but nothing has or could rise to the massive level of blunders from BP, one of the world's largest corporate entities.

By Jan Scruggs  |  June 3, 2010; 2:20 PM ET  | Category:  failure Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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