Every couple of weeks we will focus on Lessons from Great Coaches.  The 1st installment we looked at Vince Lombardi and his quotes on Teamwork.  Now we look at Tom Landry and how failure was the secret to his success.

Tom Landry, the legendary coach that led the Dallas Cowboys to many amazing season and also Super Bowl victory, had a pretty bad first year in the NFL. But he didn’t let that failure ruin his career.  Tom Landry may be known as one of the greatest coaches of all time. But his career didn’t start out that way. In fact he lost every single game this first year as head coach in the NFL!

He started out as the defensive coordinator for the Giants, opposite Vince Lombardi, which was definitely a great success from 1954 to 1960. He then became the first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for 29 seasons, which lasted from 1960 to 1988. His career was marked with great success, but his first couple of seasons were marked with failure.

Tom Landry failure
Photo © Flickr User slgckgc

The Cowboys had five or fewer wins for these seasons, which is definitely poor. It came as a surprise to many when in 1964, owner Clint Murchison Jr. gave a ten-year extension to Landry’s coaching contract. But this was actually a blessing, as the Cowboys went on to improve and win almost every game in the next seasons, and even a Super Bowl. Landry invented the now used and wildly popular “4-3 defense” and is hailed as one of the greatest innovators in football.

You might think someone would give up after that record, or get fired. But for coach Landry, learning from this failure was a secret to his success!

Here are a couple of quotes from Coach Landry on SUCCESS:

-“As a Christian, I know my life is in God’s hands. He has a plan for me. Therefore, I never worry about tomorrow or never worry about winning or losing football games. That knowledge gives me a lot of composure in tough situations.”

-“Confidence comes from knowing what you’re doing. If you are prepared for something, you usually do it. If not, you usually fall flat on your face.”

-“Character is the ability of a person to see a positive end of things. This is the hope that a man of character has.”


Vince Lombardi was a renowned football coach who led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL championships and two Super Bowl championships over a nine year period. Before Lombardi took over the coaching position, the Packers were a losing team, so he gained fame as a talented motivator.

Lombardi was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1913. He went on to study at Fordham University and played college football while there. After college, Lombardi coached high school and college football, until 1954 when he became a coach for the New York Giants.

When Lombardi took over as the coach for the Green Bay Packers in 1959, the team was not winning. Lombardi pushed them to work hard and persevere, and his tactics eventually paid off with their many victories. Lombardi passed away in 1970, but his dedication and his work ethic continues to define the sport of football. In 1971, the Super Bowl trophy was named in his honor.

Here are three quotes from Lombardi on TEAMWORK:

-“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

-“People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.”

-“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Here are some questions to ask yourself.  Am I a valuable part of my team?  Is my effort, my attitude and my overall work ethic a positive impact on the team?  Can I increase my commitment?