10 Famous Success Stories From Failure to Success That Will Inspire You to Continue
Failure happens every day, at school, at work, at home, and in families. It is inevitable, annoying and causes pessimism.
While the thought of waving your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a moment to connect with the people who were there and survived.
Failure is just an opportunity to start over, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford
Here are 10 famous stories of failure and success around the world that will inspire you to continue and achieve greatness:
1 J.K. Rowling
During her commencement speech at Harvard, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling emphasized the importance and value of failure.
Why? Just because once she too was a loser.
Within a few short years of graduating from college, her worst nightmares came true. According to her,
“I failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage fell apart and I was left unemployed, a single mother and as poor as it is possible in modern Britain without being homeless. The fears my parents had for me and the fears I had for myself came true, and by all the usual standards, I was the biggest loser I knew."
Coming out of that setback stronger and more determined was the key to her success.
2 Steve Jobs
The revolutionary Apple started with two men in a garage. Years later, we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees.
However, it is almost unbelievable that Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he started.
The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his job had surpassed the frustration of failure. Further undertakings such as NeXT and Pixar eventually brought Jobs back to Apple’s CEO position. Jobs said in 2005:
“Then I didn’t see it, but it turned out that being fired from Apple was the best thing that could ever happen to me.”
Have you lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!
3 Bill Gates
Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. He co-owned a company called Traf-O-Data, which was a total failure.
However, his skill and passion for computer programming turned this underdog into a pioneer of famed software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.
In his own words:
"It’s great to celebrate success, but it’s more important to take into account the lessons of failure."
This doesn’t mean that graduating from Harvard will make you a billionaire, but perhaps that brilliant degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.
4 Albert Einstein
The word "Einstein" is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is common knowledge that the pioneer of general relativity, Albert Einstein, himself could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school and he was denied admission to the Zurich Polytechnic School.
His earlier failures did not prevent him from receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:
“Success is failure in the process.”
To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life, including culture, religion, art, and even late-night television.
Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.
5 Abraham Lincoln
Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, losing his presidential race in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Instead of taking these signs as motivation to give up, he refused to stop trying his best.
In the words of this great man:
“What worries me most is not whether you failed, but whether you are happy with your failure.”
Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.
The number of rejections you receive is not the determining factor. Success is still within your reach.
6 Michael Jordan
“I have missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to make the winning shot in a game and missed. I have failed again and again and again in my life. And that is why I am successful.”
This quote from retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike ad speaks for itself.
It would be a slight misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills are based on natural talent. In fact, in his early years, it was hard for basketball coaches to ignore the fact that Jordan didn’t reach his minimum height. It was years of effort, practice and failure that made the star we know today.
Michael Jordan’s success depended entirely on his Intrinsic Motivation, one of the most invincible types of motivation that motivates people to succeed.
7 Steven Spielberg
Considered one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar name. So it’s surprising to realize that the genius behind Jaws and ET had bad grades in high school, which got him expelled three times from USC.
While he was in college, he caught the attention of Universal executives, who signed him up as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not complete his higher education for another 33 years.
After all, perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success.
“Despite the fact that I am getting older, what I do never gets old, and this is what I think makes me hungry.”
Putting aside the bad grades in high school, there’s no doubt that genius is involved.
To date, Spielberg has made 51 films and won three Oscars.
8 Walt Disney
Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney left school at an early age as a result of a failed attempt to enlist in the military. One of his early ventures, the Laugh-o-Gram studio, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for "not being creative enough."
Yet today, the genius behind the Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.
The logic behind this is simple:
“We don’t look back very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we are curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
9 Vincent van Gogh
During his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh suffered from mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.
He only sold one painting in his entire life, which made him a failure as an artist. However, this did not diminish his enthusiasm and passion for art.
He would never have known that, years and years after his death, he would become a well-known key figure in the post-impressionist world and, ultimately, one of the greatest artists who ever lived.
He would never have known that he had become a hot topic in art classes, and his image would be used in television, books, and other forms of popular culture.
In the words of this great but tragic man:
“If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You can’t paint,’ then, of course, paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
10 Stephen King
As a paranoid, troubled child, plagued by nightmares and raised in poverty, it’s no surprise that Stephen King rose to the title of "Master of Horror."
Addiction to drugs and alcohol was his coping mechanism to deal with the misfortune he experienced in his life. The frustration he felt over multiple publisher rejections combined with banned substances made him think about the abuse of his own children.
These strong emotions were the ones he focused on in his writing. And that’s why he said:
“We make up horror stories to help us deal with the real ones.”
Writing became his new coping mechanism, and that is how the main author we know today succeeded.
Fail more often to succeed
As Albert Einstein said, failure is really just success in progress. If you choose not to fail, you will probably never succeed.
Success comes in moments of disappointment, when you will be most embarrassed. But after you go through all these bitter times, you will become stronger and closer to success.
Do not be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that is how you will succeed.