Succeeding in life is not easy. Go ask someone who you know is successful, and they will surely tell you that it takes tremendous amounts of hard work, commitment, patience, dedication, and perseverance to succeed. They might even add that in order for you to achieve success, you need to fail first. Failure goes hand-in-hand with success, as failures are wonderful opportunities to learn and grow, and not the end of the road as many fear.
The next time you face heart-breaking failure, think of the following famous people. They all failed, but that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dreams, and ultimately achieving success.
10. Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is considered one of the greatest Hollywood directors of all time. He brought us critically acclaimed blockbuster hits like E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, and Schindler’s List. But before he became successful, famous, extremely wealthy, he first experienced several failures, one of which was not being admitted to the film school of his choice.
Spielberg wanted to study film at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. However, he was rejected due to a very low grade average. He applied again but got rejected again. These two failures didn’t stop Spielberg from pursuing his dream of studying at USC, so for the third and final time he sent another application, and unfortunately, this too was rejected.
These rejections, no matter how painful and depressing they might have been for Spielberg, didn’t hinder him from succeeding in his career and life. Spielberg eventually got a job at Universal Studios where one of the employees noticed his gift for creating films. From there, he became the Spielberg we all know today.
9. Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe truly is a Hollywood icon. Though she died in 1962, she is still adored by millions of people throughout the world up to this day. She has been the inspiration of many songs, poems, books, and paintings, and her movies are studied as art in many academic institutions.
Born Norma Jean Mortenson, Monroe had a very sad and difficult childhood. She lived in numerous foster homes since her mother couldn’t look after her, and at age 16 she got married just to avoid living in an orphanage in Los Angeles. In 1948, Monroe signed with Columbia Pictures. However, she was soon released from said contract because, according to Columbia, she wasn’t talented and beautiful enough to become an actress.
Fortunately, these hurtful words and failure didn’t stop Monroe from pursuing her Hollywood dream. She later on starred in many films produced by another (smarter) movie studio, one that made her America’s most famous sex icon.
8. Milton Hershey
Before Milton Hershey, the founder of Hershey Chocolate, became an expert businessman, he worked as a printer in a local newspaper. Later on, he quit his job and got employed in a candy factory. There, he learned the art of making candies. After several years, he quit that job and decided to open his own candy store. However, Milton’s first entrepreneurial venture was a failure.
Not wanting his failed business attempt to hinder him from succeeding in life, Hershey went to Denver, Colorado, to learn the art of making caramels. After acquiring the necessary skills to manufacture caramel, Hershey went back to New York and attempted to set up another candy business. Unfortunately, this too was a failure.
Despite the two heart-breaking failures he experienced, Milton didn’t give up on his dream. He went back to his family’s farm and spent his time creating various kinds of chocolates and candies. He eventually learned how to make delicious milk chocolates. Hershey’s milk chocolate became an instant hit not only among the kids, but adults too. This success with milk chocolates greatly helped him establish his own chocolate factory , which brought him immense wealth and fame.
7. Theodor Geisel
Theodor Geisel, more popularly known as Dr. Seuss, is considered one of the greatest children’s authors of all time. But before he became a prominent figure in children’s literature, he experienced a series of heart-breaking failures. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was the first book Dr. Seuss had ever written, and before finally finding its way as a children’s classic, it was rejected 27 times!
After continually being told his incredibly amusing story of how powerful a child’s imagination is was pure rubbish, Dr. Seuss was ready to give up. He was walking down the streets of New York City when he bumped into an old friend, who just happened to be the new editor of the children’s department of a publishing house in New York. He read Seuss’ book and decided to publish it. Nobody called Suess a failure after that.
6. Henry Ford
Henry Ford undoubtedly revolutionized the American car industry. He didn’t invent the automobile, but he was the man responsible for manufacturing the first reliable, simple, and budget-friendly versions. Before Ford invented the Model T, cars were only for the rich. But due to his determination, hard-work, and ingenuity, he succeeded in manufacturing cars that were affordable to the average Americans of his time.
However, it took two major failures before Henry Ford finally succeeded. The first company that he founded was the Detroit Automobile Company. He was the man behind the design and production of the cars, while William H. Murphy was his financial backer. However, a year and half later, after Ford established his first company, it was dissolved due to major problems with the car design. Despite this failure, Ford did not give up. He asked Murphy for a second chance, and with his financial assistance he founded another company, the Henry Ford Company. But unfortunately, this too was an absolute failure.
But Ford was not a quitter. He did not let his two major failures hinder him from achieving his goals. Right after he left the Henry Ford Company, he met a wealthy Scottish man named Alexander Malcomson who was willing to back up him financially. With Malcomson’s help, Ford finally perfected his car design and established the Ford Motor Company.
5. Bill Gates
Microsoft was not the first company Bill Gates founded. In fact, his first company had nothing to do with computers. Before Microsoft, there was Traf-0-Data, which specialized in creating products that processed raw information gathered from daily traffic encounters, and made reports for traffic engineers.
However, this venture was a failure. An important demo of the Traf-0-Data 8008 didn’t work, an event which caused Gates and his business partners to dissolve the company entirely. Fortunately, this failure didn’t stop Gates. He kept going on and finally, a few years later, all of his hard work and dedication paid off. He succeeded and established Microsoft, which is undoubtedly the biggest computer software company in the world today.
4. Stephen King
When it comes to the horror genre, no one can equal Stephen King. He is a literary genius who entertained and terrified us with books like Misery, The Shining, and The Stand. But King’s success and fame didn’t happen instantly. It took several failed attempts before he finally hit the jackpot.
It’s a wide known fact that Carrie was King’s first published book—the story of a teenage girl who possessed telekinetic capabilities. However, before it became a best-selling novel, Carrie was rejected not once, twice, or even 27 times, but 30 times! King got so disappointed with the rejections that he decided to chuck it in the trash. Luckily, Tabitha, King’s wife, found the manuscript and encouraged him not to give up. Following his wife’s encouraging advice, King sent Carrie to other publishers. And his wife was right. A publishing company liked King’s work and decided to publish it. Many years and numerous best-sellers later, King became an established and highly successful figure in the American literary world.
3. Harland David Sanders
You might now know Harland David Sanders by that name, but you might recognize him better if we stuck the word “Colonel” at the beginning of his name. Sanders was the founder of the extremely successful global food franchise, Kentucky Fried Chicken. He is living proof that no matter who you are, how old you are, or what little you have in life, you can succeed if you just work hard and persevere.
Colonel Sanders started selling his secret chicken recipe to different restaurants, homes, and individuals at the age of 65, after his official retirement. Despite his old age, Sanders traveled throughout America for two long years, selling his chicken recipe to anyone who would listen. At first, he was rejected and mocked by the people he approached. There’s even a legend that states the recipe got rejected 1,009 times before someone finally accepted it. Whether that number is accurate or not is irrelevant. What’s important is that Col. Sanders showed us that with hard-work, commitment, and hope we can achieve anything we want, even if that means failing or getting rejected over a thousand times.
2. Walt Disney
Walt Disney is credited for elevating the status of fairy tales and cartoons. Without him, we might have never known Mickey Mouse and all his remarkable friends. Aside from his classic works, Walt Disney’s life is a source of inspiration too. For one thing, he was fired from a newspaper company in Kansas City because he wasn’t creative enough. Because when you think Walt Disney, you definitely think boring and unoriginal. In addition, Mickey Mouse was actually rejected by MGM studios because they believed that a giant cartoon mouse would scare women. And to top it off, in 1933 one of his most successful pictures, The Three Little Pigs, was rejected because it only had four characters.
As you can see, Disney’s climb to success was a very steep one. However, despite the many nonsensical failures and discouragements he encountered, he did not quit. He held on to his dream and worked hard to achieve them. True enough, all of his efforts paid off.
1. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is a superhero, at least on the basketball court. He showed the whole world that unparalleled skill and out-of-this-world showmanship are what distinguishes the greats from the legends. But before Jordan achieved two Olympic gold medals, won six NBA championships, and earned five MVP trophies, he encountered heart-crushing failure in the form of somebody who thought he was too damn short to succeed.
With the help of his brother Larry, Michael got invited to join a basketball summer camp and try out for a university team group. In that camp, Jordan impressed all of the participants with his superb basketball skills. The coach supervising the camp recognized his talent, but he was hesitant to include him in the university team group because he was quite short in basketball standards. At the end of the camp, a list of those who got admitted to the university basketball team was handed out. And much to the dismay and surprise of Jordan, all of his friends’ names were on the list except his. This greatly crushed his heart and dreams. He came home feeling ashamed and discouraged. He even wept.
Thankfully, his loving mother gave him an advice that greatly encouraged him to continue on improving his game and pursuing his dream. In an interview, Jordan recalled, “She said that the best thing I could do is to prove to the coach that he had made a mistake.” He did exactly that and much, much more.