Before their success, some of the world’s most successful people experienced epic failure. we celebrate their success, but often overlook the path that got them there. a path that is often marked by failure.
as the american writer elbert hubbard said:
“There is no failure except in giving up trying.”
many people fear the word failure and it seems that everyone wants to achieve success in an instant. however, failure is something that everyone experiences and it is not always a bad thing. it just goes to show that the road to success is not an easy one. in fact, it is a vital experience that will make you rethink your priorities.
Anyone who is trying to make their life worthwhile has experienced failure. this is exactly why he needs to change his perspective on it.
When you finally understand that failure is the inspiration behind success, you can begin to unleash your potential.
so motivate yourself and accept failure as merely an opportunity to learn.
15 successful people who failed
The road to success isn’t always easy, but you can do it!
If you didn’t succeed on your first try, don’t worry too much about it. here are 15 successful people who failed (a few times) before being recognized for their glorious success.
1. mr james dyson
You know that frustrating feeling when you don’t get something on the first try?
Multiply that by 5,126 because that’s how many failed prototypes Sir James Dyson went through over the course of 15 years before creating the best-selling eponymous bagless vacuum cleaner that generated a net worth of $4.5 billion.
if he gave up every time he failed, he would not have been a successful entrepreneur who has successfully made some of the best appliances.
2. steven spielberg
His film output has grossed more than $9 billion and earned him three Academy Awards, but the blockbuster master was twice rejected by the University of Southern California’s School of Motion Picture Arts. Aside from that, this principal also struggled with dyslexia, which made it difficult for him to cope with school.
To date, he has won 11 Emmys, 3 Oscars and 7 Golden Globes, and is one of today’s most successful directors.
As his way of saying “oops, I guess we were wrong about you,” the school built a building to honor Spielberg.
3. Thomas Edison
In what may be both the most discouraging statement and the worst teaching practice of all time, Thomas Edison was told by his teachers that he was “too stupid to learn anything.”
edison went on to own more than 1,000 patents, including the phonograph and the handy electric lamp. his death probably spared his teachers the ignominy of misjudging him. Edison is now known as one of the most successful inventors who ever lived, and his creations changed the lives of billions of people.
4. walt disney
Can you imagine your childhood without Disney? Well, it could easily have been if Walt had listened to his old newspaper editor. The publisher told Walt that he “lacked imagination and he didn’t have any good ideas.” Undeterred, Old Walt created the cultural icon named after him.
Disney’s take on failure:
“I think it’s important to have a good failure when you’re young… because it makes you aware of what can happen to you. That’s why I’ve never been afraid in my whole life when we’ve been close to collapse and all that. I have never been afraid.”
if you feel like giving up, remember what disney said.
5. albert einstein
Do you want to achieve success? let albert einstein inspire you.
his name is synonymous with intelligence, but it was not always so for albert einstein. as a child he did not begin to speak until he was four years old, to read until he was seven, and he was thought to have a mental disability. if he gave up and never persevered, the most important theories of his could not have been known.
Won a Nobel Prize and changed the world’s approach to physics. I guess I was just thinking of the right thing to say for those first four years…
6. jk paddling
Before there was a magician, there was wellness. Rowling was a depressed, broke, divorced single mother writing a novel while studying. It’s hard to believe, but many publishers rejected Harry Potter.
Now one of the richest women in the world, Rowling reflects on her early failures:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that it is as if you have not lived at all, in which case, you fail by default.”
7. Abraham Lincoln
lincoln’s failures were wide and numerous. he accomplished the unique feat of going off to war as a captain and returning as a private (the lowest military rank).
then took failure in stride during multiple failed trading attempts. Undeterred, Lincoln entered the political arena, where he launched several unsuccessful runs for political office before rising to president.
shared this quote about his failure:
“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are satisfied with your failure.”
8. jerry seinfield
before the show about nothing, seinfeld was a young comedian on the stand-up circuit. his first time on stage did not go so well. seeing the audience he froze and was booed and booed offstage.
Your options: pack up and accept that comedy isn’t your thing, or go back to the same stage the next night and have the audience hysterical. he opted for the latter and became one of the most successful comedians of all time.
9. theodor seuss geisel
Known for generations as dr. Seuss, the beloved children’s author, rejected his first book by 27 different publishers.
according to him, he was on his way home to burn his manuscript when he ran into one of his dartmouth classmates, who eventually helped him find a publisher for his book. Now, he is known as one of the best children’s authors.
His books that weren’t good enough for these publishers went on to sell over 600 million copies worldwide.
10. oprah winfrey
She’s a billionaire, owns her own TV station, and likes to give away cars, but Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a talk show host in Baltimore.
in 2013, oprah reflected on her experiences during a harvard commencement address:
“There is no such thing as failure. failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
Creating your own TV channel is a sure way to never get fired again!
11. king stephen
In yet another case in the never-ending “book publishers make dumb decisions” series, mega-novelist Stephen King had his first book, Carrie, rejected 30 times.
Publishers even told this iconic storyteller that they are not interested in any kind of science fiction that touches on negative utopias because they don’t sell.
Dejected, King threw the book in the trash. his wife retrieved it and implored him to send it back, leading to his first book deal and spawning his illustrious career.
12. vincent van gogh
Today, a van gogh painting will set you back more than $100 million. but in life, vincent van gogh couldn’t get rid of things.
He sold only one painting, ‘The Red Vine’, during his lifetime, and the sale occurred shortly before his death. Unfortunately for Vincent, others were able to enjoy the financial spoils of his life’s efforts.
according to this artist:
“sometimes success is the result of a whole series of failures.”
13. elvis presley
“You’re not going anywhere, son. you should drive a truck again.”
These are the words elvis presley received after his first performance at the grand ole opry, after which he was promptly fired. Presley got rid of the keys to the truck and became the biggest star in the world with a legacy that lives on.
14. Michael Jordan
Either you were part of the greatest high school roster of all time or your coach made a huge mistake cutting michael jordan from your high school basketball team. Six championships and five MVPs later, Jordan became arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.
“I have missed over 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been tasked with taking the winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s why I’m successful.”
15. Charles Darwin
Darwin, the man credited with much of how we come to understand the world today, was considered an average student and dropped out of medical school as a result.
Darwin embarked on a lifelong study of nature that led to the seminal “On the Origin of Species” and forever altered the way humanity views our existence.
The crowning achievements of famous and highly successful people come as much from drive and determination as from ability.
persistence and certainty are the difference between success and failure. so if you want to succeed, don’t be afraid to fail.
Fail often, fail fast, and learn from your mistakes. the more times you fail, the closer you are to success.
We hope this list of successful people who failed on their path to success has helped inspire you to try harder.
featured photo credit: kal loftus via unsplash.com