7 Famous Failure To Success Stories To Keep You Going


Motivation is a strange game. Often, when we start off succeeding, we tend to be more confident, resilient and have an easier time moving forward; However, when we start off failing or don’t have any previous success stories to reinforce our motivation, it can be truly daunting to keep going.  The truth is that most grand success stories come from years of failure. The kind of achievements that make us go, “Wow, this person really changed things. They made billions and influenced the world in at least some way”, started off with failure. Here are seven famous stories of people who went from having nothing or even less than nothing to abundant success.

1. Walt Disney – Overcoming Rejection

Walt Disney overlooking plans for his park.

Walt Disney dealt with the hurdle of ‘overwhelming rejection.’ In 1919 Walt Disney was fired from one his first animation jobs working for a Kansas-based newspaper, The Kansas City Star. The reason cited for Walt Disney’s firing was that he, “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Despite getting fired, Walt Disney continued forward to start his own brand of characters are cartoons under the name of Disney. During his work to create his studio and theme park, Disney Land, he was rejected over 300 times by financial institutions while looking for funding.

2. Franklin D. Roosevelt – Unexpected Misfortunes

Franklin Roosevelt, wheel chair, and leg braces.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the beloved 32nd president of the United States. Roosevelt contracted poliomyelitis in 1921 at the young age of 39. The infection caused paralysis from the waist down forcing him to use a wheelchair. He aggressively attacked his illness by trying many medicines and therapies such as hydrotherapy. With hard work, he was able to walk short distances with the help of leg braces such as in the picture above. Roosevelt went through the tragedy of making it then having the threat of it all being taken away just shortly after. It’s on the psyche to be in such a high position then fall victim to something as wretched as polio. However, despite the circumstances, he kept going and is now known as one of the greatest presidents of the United States.

3.Michael Jordon – Expecting Failure As Normal

Michael Jordan On The Court.

Michael Jordon is one of the, if not the most, legendary basketball player of all time. However, Jordan’s difficulties started from the beginning when he was cut from his high school basketball teams roster (at least the varsity team that is). He claimed that later that day he went home and locked himself in his room to cry. Despite that fact, Jordon went on to become a legendary basketball player. However, what is truly inspiring about Jordon, is his belief on failure in general. Here is a famous quote from Jordon;

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

He realized the inevitability and frequency of failure as a necessary part of success.

4. The Beatles – Staying True To Your Tune

The Beatles in Stockholm 1963.

In the early days, The Beatles had what you would call a unique sound. They were a part of an emerging genre that wasn’t quite yet mainstream, yet they were exceptionally original on their own. This newish sound had a lot of music executives ambivalent about signing them. Decca recording studio passed them up by saying, “We don’t like their sound and guitar is on its way out.” Instead of changing their sound to fit in with what producers were telling them, they took a risk and stayed true to their sound, and they were rewarded greatly for it. Over time The Beatles became the best-selling musical act in the world with an estimated 500 to 600 million copies sold.

5. Sylvester Stallone – Losing Those Around You

Sylvester Stallone At Festival de Venise

Sylvester Stallone went through some heart-wrenchingly difficult times on his way up to becoming an actor. He reportedly lost two of his closest companions during difficult times. He had to sell his dog for $50 dollars because of dire needs for money and in additional to that his wife left him. He was then later rejected over 2,000 times trying to sell the screenplay for Rocky. Eventually, he was offered $100,000 for the screenplay under the premise he would not be able to act in the movie, he rejected the offer. When he was on the brinks of complete financial bankruptcy, he finally settled for selling the screenplay for $25,000 and the rights to act in the role as Rocky. He later then took that money and bought back his dog and became the success he is today.

6. Tyler Perry – Childhood Trauma

Tyler Perry At The Academy Awards.

Tyler Perry reportedly had a rough childhood growing up – something, unfortunately, many young people experience. He went through physical and emotional abuse as well as expelled from high school. He tried to commit suicide twice, once as a preteen and another time in his early twenties. His first attempt at acting and production was the creation of a theater play named, I know I’ve Changed. He invested every penny he had and unfortunately, it was a complete failure. He continued working to improve the production while sleeping in his car and eventually on the 7th run it became a success.

7. Steve Jobs – Losing The Very Thing He Created

Steve Jobs unveiling one his Apple iPhones.

Although this is a more important failure story, it’s still an important one because of the circumstances. Steve Jobs founded Apple in 1976. He worked hard and grew the company to an impressive scale when he was then fired from Apple by the CEO and board of directors in 1985. It must have been a crazy feeling being removed from the very thing you created. However, Steve Jobs notably said that;

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

So, perhaps like most failures this one was ultimately beneficial. It allowed Steve Jobs to take a step back and look at his company from an outside perspective, creatively, and make the appropriate improvements when he was rehired in 1997.

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