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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

1. J.K. Rowling

    During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

    Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

    A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

    “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

    Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

    2. Steve Jobs

      The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

      Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

      The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

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      “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.”

      Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

      3. Bill Gates
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        Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

        However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

        In his own words:

        “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

        This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

        If you haven’t found your passion like Bill Gates, this will help you:

        How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

        4. Albert Einstein

          The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory 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 refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

          His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

          “Success is failure in progress.”

          To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

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          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, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

            In this great man’s words:

            “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

            Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

            The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

            6. Michael Jordan

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              “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

              This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

              It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

              Michael Jordan’s success all came down to his Intrinsic Motivation, one of the most invincible types of motivation that drives people to succeed.

              7. Steven Spielberg

              217307-steven-spielberg

                Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

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                While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

                Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                8. Walt Disney

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                  Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, 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 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 backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                  9. Vincent Van Gogh

                    During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                    He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

                    He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

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                    He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                    In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                    “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                    10. Stephen King

                    01-Stephen-King-Rags-to-Riches-Celebs-1

                      As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                      An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                      These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                      “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                      Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                      Fail more often in order to succeed

                      Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                      Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                      If you feel like a failure think that you’ve failed all too many times, it’s not too late to change things up! Here’s how:

                      How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                      Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      More by this author

                      Elizabeth Andal

                      Elizabeth is a passionate writer who shares about lifestyle tips and lessons learned in life on Lifehack.

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                      Last Updated on March 14, 2019

                      7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                      7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

                      Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

                      For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

                      Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

                      1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

                      A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

                      It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

                      It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

                      How it helps you:

                      If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

                      Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

                      2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

                      Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

                      Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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                      How it helps you:

                      Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

                      Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

                      If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

                      Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

                      3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

                      Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

                      Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

                      How it helps you:

                      This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

                      For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

                      Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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                      A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

                      4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

                      To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

                      A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

                      How it helps you:

                      One word: hierarchy.

                      All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

                      In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

                      If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

                      5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

                      Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

                      Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

                      How it helps you:

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                      Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

                      If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

                      This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

                      6. What do you like about working here?

                      This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

                      Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

                      How it helps you:

                      You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

                      Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

                      Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

                      7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

                      What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

                      As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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                      How it helps you:

                      What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

                      First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

                      Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

                      Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

                      Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

                      Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

                      Making Your Interview Work for You

                      Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

                      Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

                      More Resources About Job Interviews

                      Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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