“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
The road to success is a hard one that, quite often, leads us to failures that turn into low points in our lives. It requires a lot of hard work, patience and courage to face challenges; things that do not come easy. Failure before success is the norm but the fact remains that it is simply a step towards success.
Many famous people have had to overcome numerous hurdles on their journey to become successful. Their failures brought them to the lowest points of their lives (where many would consider giving up or retreating). Nonetheless, their hard work delivered them what they struggled for and their determination is now an inspiration to many.
If you ever find yourself feeling down about failures in your life and are in need of a little inspiration to push through it, here are some inspirational stories of people who pressed forward through hard times to find success and become famous.
1. Walt Disney
Walt Disney had had his fair share of failures- he was fired from his job in the Kansas City Star paper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”; his Mickey Mouse cartoons were rejected for being “too scary for women”; ‘The Three Little Pigs’ was also turned down because it only had four characters; his first business venture, Laugh-O-Gram animation studio landed in bankruptcy.
Stepping forward through failures, he built the Walt Disney Company which now rakes in billions. Rumor has it that he was turned down 302 times before he finally got financing for the Walt Disney Company.
2. Harrison Ford
Before Harrison Ford was Han Solo and Indiana Jones, he was a self-taught carpenter in his 30s, struggling to take care of his family. He had small roles in TV shows but barely enough to support his family. So he became a carpenter.
He was building cabinets in George Lucas’s house who offered him a supporting role in “American Graffiti” at age 29. But his big break was 6 years later in Star Wars as Han Solo, created by the same George Lucas.
3. Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone had had a tough break before he was a Hollywood star. In his 20s, he used to be a deli counter attendant and was so broke that he sold his wife’s jewelry. At a point he was so desperate that he had to sell his dog to a stranger at a liquor store for $25.
He says that was the lowest point in his life where he walked away crying. Then, he made “Rocky” happen and the rest of the story is out in the open. Guess what he did with his first pay? He bought back his dog for $15000.
4. J.K Rowling
Now one of the richest women in the world, J K Rowling was once penniless, divorced, raising a child alone and going through series of depressions.
She was so broke that she didn’t even have the money to print the manuscript of Harry Potter which, therefore, she typed all 9000 plus words on an old typewriter manually to submit to the publisher.
5. Arianna Huffington
The president and the editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post is a prominent figure in US Politics but she has had a bitter taste of failure when she finished fifth with only 0.55 percent of the vote in 2003 California’s gubernatorial race.
Despite having sold her first book successfully, her second book was rejected 36 times. She has now published 13 books and the success of The Huffington Post is incredible–all suggesting that she learned a great deal from her failures.
6. Donald Trump
Donald Trump was once $1 billion in debt. He owed billions of dollars in the early 1990s and newspapers were saying he was done for good. One day, he said to his daughter, pointing out a homeless man, “See that bum? He has a billion dollars more than me.” That, he says, was the lowest point in his life.
Then, he made happen the biggest financial turnaround in history for which he is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. He was once $1 billion in debt but Donald Trump net worth now is $4.5 billion.
7. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is, undisputedly, the most famous basketball player in the world. As a kid, he knew he loved basketball and wanted to make a career out of it but no coach would take him because he was short.
The basketball legend was rejected from his high school’s varsity basketball team. Jordan pressed forward through all these failures which defined his success.
8. Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein could not speak until he was four and he did not read until he was seven. His parents and teachers thought he was slow, mentally handicapped and anti-social. He was expelled from school and was denied admittance in Zurich Polytechnic School.
Now Einstein is a household name, a synonym to “genius”–credited for having changed the world with his discoveries.
9. Abraham Lincoln
Young Abraham Lincoln was once promoted to captain, but he returned home a low-ranked private. Then he tried on many businesses, all of which landed in failure.
Coming from a very poor family, he went on to become a successful lawyer through a great deal of hardship. He lost several runs for public office, none of which could dissuade him from trying and becoming the president of the United States.
10. Jim Carrey
This successful comedian, at one point of time, was living in a VW bus with his family, parked throughout Canada. His family was so poor that he had to drop out of high school to find a job.
He took a job of a janitor just to support his family. Carrey says that he developed a sense of humor growing up during these financially tough times.
11. Stephen King
We all know about the success of this master of horror. Only a few of us know that his bestselling novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times before it was published. He actually threw away the manuscript in the trash out of despair.
He came from a poor family and worked as an English teacher, selling short stories to magazines to supplement his income. Today, he has over 50 novels selling over 350 million copies.
12. Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything” so his mother took him off the school and taught him herself. Also he was fired from his first two jobs for not being “productive enough”.
Ironically, Thomas Edison is now considered one of the greatest innovators of all time. His success after over 10,000 failed attempts to invent a commercially viable lightbulb has set a good example of what perseverance truly is.
13. Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is considered one of the greatest movie makers of our time who gave us the movies like Jaws, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan and a few more. It sounds incredible that he was rejected from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema Arts – not once but twice.
He didn’t let that drag him off track from his dream of movie making; he pressed on and now he’s successful enough to donate money and buildings to the same school where he was once rejected.
14. Henry Ford
Henry Ford set up one of the most successful automotive companies of all time but he is no stranger to failure. In 1899, he formed the Detroit Automobile Company. It went bankrupt.
Again in 1901, he formed the Henry Ford Company. That too went bankrupt. It was the Ford Motor Company, his third attempt that drove him up to the peak of success and revolutionized the automobile industry.
15. Oprah Winfrey
This TV icon has had a very tragic past. Born in a poor family, she gave birth at age 14 and lost the child. She used to be molested by her cousins, uncles and family friends. She rose from all that hardship to work in TV.
Now she is one of the richest women in the world with net worth of $2.9 billion.
Featured photo credit: Wikimedia via upload.wikimedia.org