In a society that is constantly forcing the clock upon us, it’s pretty easy to get to a certain age and think, “I’m never going to one of those successful people.” If you’ve thought that, or fear thinking that, don’t stress it.
Here’s 10 examples of people who, at the age of 30 or older, turned their life around into incredible success.
1. J. D. Salinger
Salinger, an American writer, was 32 when he first captivated the literary scene with The Catcher in the Rye.
He was a writer all throughout his life, but World War 2 interrupted his career. He was drafted into the army shortly after having his first piece published in the New York Times. It wasn’t until the war was over and Salinger was safely back home that his talent was finally recognized.
2. Stan Lee
Stan Lee, the face of comic books, was considering giving up the creation of comic books while in his early 30’s. As a writer for Atlas Comics, in the early 1950’s, he was dissatisfied and unfulfilled in his duties there. He had hopes of being a more prominent literary figure, and didn’t feel that comic books were going to get him there.
Luckily for Lee, and every comic book fan out there, he didn’t give up. Following the revival of the superhero archetype by DC Comics, Lee was tasked with coming up with a new superhero team for a future comic. After some urging from his wife, due to his desire to leave, Lee began to experiment with more realistic story approaches in his comic books.
After much collaboration, Lee, age 38 then, and Jack Kirby ended up producing the Fantastic Four. One of the first superhero teams of its kind, with each character possessing human flaws and issues, such as girlfriend trouble and anger problems. It immediately became a success, catapulting Stan Lee to become unforgettable in the comic book industry.
Not bad for a guy in his late 30’s who was considering giving it up completely.
3. Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman, whom you probably know best as Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films, wasn’t in his first movie until 46. While he wasn’t necessarily unsuccessful, he definitely proves that you can drop everything and start anew and continue your success.
At 26, after leaving a successful graphic art company that he founded with friends, he was accepted to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. After studying there for 2 years, he found himself in numerous plays. It took another 18 years for him to finally end up on the movie screen.
His perseverance and passion definitely paid off.
4. Samuel L Jackson
Samuel L Jackson. It’s a name you undoubtedly know. Likely for his role in Pulp Fiction, which actually happened to be the role that propelled him into what could be called ‘real stardom.’
What many don’t know is that Jackson was actually a drug addict, and had only left rehab 3 years prior to his role in Pulp Fiction. It would’ve been very easy for Jackson to leave rehab and simply assume that his dream of being a film star was over.
Luckily for everyone, Jackson didn’t up. At the age of 46, he started his life anew, found success and achieved his dreams.
5. Susan Boyle
Susan Boyle was a name unheard of by almost everyone. While she’s still not exactly a superstar name now, she is at the very least a celebrity in Britain.
At the age of 47, Susan Boyle stepped out onto the stage of Britain’s Got Talent, a TV show similar to The X Factor. Much to everyone’s surprise, what came next was a truly astounding singing performance. You can watch it here.
Now she’s doing duets with some of the most famous singers on the planet. Not bad for someone who’s nearing the age of 50.
6. Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, a name known by just about anyone that’s had to study high school biology. The father of evolution. Initially rejected by the scientific community, and told he would not amount to anything. He even wrote in his autobiography, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.”
It was not until age 50, following a voyage on the HMS Beagle, that he published On the Origin of Species. Despite constant criticism and rejection of earlier works on the topic, he didn’t give up. He then presented On the Origin of Species with very compelling evidence. This was later accepted by science as the building blocks to understanding how humanity came to be.
7. Sir Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill, known for being the British Prime Minister. His face was a symbol of hope, courage and inspiration throughout World War II.
What people often don’t know is that he actually first came to office at the ripe age of 62. Most people would be thinking that retirement is all they’ve got left to look forward to at that age, but Churchill proves it wrong by leading a county to victory during a time of intense hardship.
Prior to this, Churchill had indeed been a leader of the Conservative party, the Minister of Defense, leader of the Opposition, and many other roles. Even so, could he have gone on to Prime Minister had he given up? Definitely not!
8. Colonel Sanders
Harland Sanders, better known as Colonel Sanders, is the iconic face of KFC. Having gone from dead-end job to dead-end job for most of his life, which included insurance salesman and gas station attendant, it wasn’t until 62 that his famous restaurant chain began.
He was selling chicken from his roadside restaurant, during the Great Depression, when opportunity for franchising it arose. After getting attention from acclaimed food critics, which ended in very good publicity, Sanders established the first KFC franchise with Pete Harman in 1952.
It wasn’t until 3 years later, when Sanders was 65, that he began to travel around the US looking for suitable restaurants to bring into the KFC family. As they say, the rest is history.
9. A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
This is a name unknown to many, but his movement is timeless. Prabhupada is the figure, or Guru, behind the movement known as the “Hare Krishna movement.” Which you may have come across if you were ever into The Beatles, or Harrison specifically.
Prabhupada didn’t live a life as a loser. He was in fact a very talented man, devout in his teachings and worship. Though, with that said, it was not until he was 70 (Yes, 70!) years old that his movement gained popularity. Following interactions with The Beatles and other well-known celebrities.
It just goes to show the changes you can make, even when you’re long past the retirement age.
10. Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime. Let that sink in: one of the most well-known artists on the planet, with artwork that has sold for over 100 million dollars, sold only one painting in his lifetime.
Despite his immense talent, it went unrecognized. He did work for an art dealer, Groupil & Cie, though nothing really came of it. After becoming bitter, seeing that art was treated solely as a commodity to those buying it, he left in pursuit of better things.
He went on to work as a school supply teacher, and various other odd jobs, leaving them to pursue his dream of becoming a Minister’s assistant. Then, after failing numerous entrance exams, despite studying under some of the best known names in Theology at the time, he eventually abandoned that too.
Many other events, like his cousin refusing to give him her hand in marriage, led to despair in his life. He eventually took up much smoking and drinking, all while studying under various artists, until the despair became overwhelming. He is said to have shot himself, and later died due to an untreated infection of the wound.
If only he could see the impact his artwork has had on this earth now. Here is a man that success found after he had died: if this doesn’t prove that you can be successful, it’s likely nothing will.
So don’t lose hope! Whether you’re 15 or 50, you have time to make a difference. All you have to do is set a purpose, work towards it and persevere. You can join the ranks of the successful people!
Featured photo credit: Alan Rickman via alanrickman.info