No one likes rejection – especially not the idea of outright failure. If you are worried about either of these negative concepts, don’t fret. Some of the most successful people in the world, and throughout history in general, have experienced a series of rejections that made it seem like they would never get to where they are today. Don’t believe me? Here are ten people who might disagree with you:
1. Oprah Winfrey
The queen bee of television herself has nothing less than a heartbreaking past. Oprah started out being molested by several members of her own family and trapped in a dysfunctional and abusive nightmare that would challenge anyone. Her young life was a heartbreaking and serious one, especially considering that she had to endure losing her own child. Oprah gave birth at 14 years old and the child unfortunately did not live for long. Despite her more than rough beginnings, Oprah has worked her way to a net worth of 2.9 billion USD and is a beacon of hope to all those in need.
2. Walt Disney
The king of animation and the original Mousekateer did not have a smooth ride to the top. In fact, he started out his career by being fired from a newspaper for “not being creative enough.” Let that sink in for a moment. His initial Mickey Mouse cartoons were also rejected for being too scary for women (no stools or tables around to jump on, I guess). The point stands – if Walt had listened to his naysayers and had given up, the movies of our childhoods, the animation industry, and the arts as a whole would have a serious hole left in them.
3. Stephen King
The author of horror galore is one of the most prolific and profitable writers of our time. Millions of books sold and many of them turned into motion pictures – King is living a writer’s dream. Stephen King actually got his start having his first novel turned down thirty times, enough that he chucked it in the trash. Fortunately for him, and for fans of his worldwide, his wife encouraged him to pick it back up and keep working on it. With her encouragement, King would go on to produce his very first work in a long line, Carrie.
4. Theodore Giesel aka Dr. Seuss
Another prolific writer and artist, Theodore Giesel got as much of a rocky start as Stephen King did. His attempts to write a novel that publishing companies would find enticing failed a total of 27 times, with each one calling his novel “pure rubbish.” Giesel refused to quit, thankfully. It was by chance that he ran into an old friend that had taken over as a children’s literature editor who agreed to publish his work. The now famous “Dr. Seuss” refused to give up, and probably had a good laugh after his first book saw major success – he always was a bit of a rebel.
5. Albert Einstein
Before we get too ahead of ourselves: no, him failing algrebra was just a myth. However, the certified genius did get a lot of flack in school for not speaking to anyone until he was four years old and asking abstract questions that made no sense to his teachers or his peers. In short, they assumed that he was lazy and had no interest in understanding the material. Now, the situation has been flipped with his theory of relativity being a sticking point in science. His work helped advance several fields and Einstein is now not only a scientific legend but a nickname for someone who is very smart.
6. Steve Jobs
Now, here is a familiar name that many of you will applaud. Steve Jobs, a known innovator, got his start by being fired from an early job for trying to think outside of the box. Instead of giving up, Steve went full force with his ideas, creating the Apple line of computers and machinery and even helping give birth to the animation giant Pixar, working closely with founder John Lasseter on the very first 3D graphic picture Toy Story. Steve Jobs turned a profit on every single endeavor that he ever put his mind to, creating a culture of artists and innovators that wanted to follow in his footsteps.
7. Michael Jordan
Everyone who has seen Space Jam remembers the scene of a young Michael Jordan outlining his dreams to his father while throwing a basketball. Ignoring the whole Looney Tunes bit, that scene is exceptionally accurate to how Michael wanted his life to go. Unfortunately, and try your best to picture this, he got turned down frequently because prospective coaches found that he was just too short for basketball. Even using his wits to get to a basketball camp got him nowhere except further disheartened. Instead of giving up, he decided to prove those who didn’t believe in him wrong. Looking back at his career as an NBA hall-of-famer, it’s easy to see that he succeeded.
8. Benjamin Franklin
You might not expect one of the USA founding fathers to be on this list, but Ben Franklin really is the spirit of what some ingenuity and hard work can do. His family could not finance his education past an elementary level, but a young Ben did not let that deter him. Instead, he spent his time pouring over as many books as he could get his hands on. The knowledge-hungry young man would eventually turn into an accomplished inventor, politician, and founding-father of America – you can’t ask for much more.
9. Henry Ford
The innovator, inventor, and big name in the automotive industry didn’t start out with a smooth journey. Well known for starting the Ford Motor Company and creating the innovative automotive assembly line, Ford actually lost more businesses than he could keep up initially. His failed companies left him broke a total of five times before he finally got the Ford Motor Company up and running. That’s some determination right there.
10. Winston Churchill
The sharp, quick-witted figure is a stoic man in history – but he didn’t get there without plenty of setbacks. In school, he saw many failures, including failing out of the sixth grade. Now recognized as a Nobel Peace Prize winner and powerful Prime Minister of the UK, Churchill actually lost a plethora of elections in his career. He wouldn’t become Prime Minister until he was 62 years old. You have to give the old guy some credit though, he was as wiley as ever, no matter how old he got, and is now regarded highly worldwide.
For those out there who are feeling disheartened, just remember that all of these people had to pay some serious dues and overcome quite a few trials before they found success. The key always seems to be, as Walt Disney put it, to “keep moving forward.”