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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success

Before their success, some of the world’s most successful people experienced epic failure. We celebrate their success but often overlook the path that got them there. A path that is often marked with failure.

As American writer Elbert Hubbard said:

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”

So get motivated, and accept failure as merely a chance to learn.

Here are 15 highly successful people who failed (for a couple of times) before they were recognized by their glorious success.

1. Sir James Dyson

    You know that frustrating feeling when you don’t get something on the first attempt?

    Multiple that by 5,126 because that’s the number of failed prototypes Sir James Dyson went through over the course of 15 years before creating the eponymous best-selling bagless vacuum cleaner that led to a net worth of $4.5billion.

    2. Steven Spielberg

      His cinematic output has grossed more than $9 billion and brought him three Academy Awards, but the master of the blockbuster was rejected TWICE by the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

      As their way of saying “Oops, I guess we were wrong about you” the school built a building in honor of Spielberg.

      3. Thomas Edison

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        In what might be at once the most discouraging statement and worst teaching practice of all time, Thomas Edison was told by his teachers he was ‘too stupid to learn anything’.

        Edison went on to hold more than 1,000 patents, including the phonograph and practical electric lamp. Death most likely spared his teachers the ignominy of their incorrect assessment.

        4. Walt Disney

          Can you imagine your childhood without Disney? Well it could easily have been if Walt had listened to his former newspaper editor. The editor told Walt he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’. Undeterred, Old Walt went on to create the cultural icon that bears his name.

          Disney’s take on failure:

          “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young… Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”

          5. Albert Einstein

            His name is synonymous with intelligence yet it wasn’t always that way for Albert Einstein. As a child he didn’t start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped.

            He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world’s approach to physics. I guess he was just thinking of the right thing to say for those first four years…

            6. J.K. Rowling

            JK

              Before there was a wizard, there was welfare. Rowling was a broke, depressed, divorced single mother simultaneously writing a novel while studying.

              Now one of the richest women in the world, Rowling reflects on her early failures:

              “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

              7. Abraham Lincoln

                Lincoln’s failures were broad and numerous. He achieved the unique feat of leaving for a war a captain and returning a private (the lowest military rank).

                He next took failure in his stride during multiple failed business attempts. Undeterred, Lincoln marched into the political realm, where he launched several failed runs at political office before his ascendance to President.

                8. Jerry Seinfeld

                  Before the show about nothing, Seinfeld was a young comedian on the stand-up circuit. His first time on stage didn’t go so well. On seeing the audience he froze and was booed and jeered off stage.

                  His choices: pack it in and accept comedy isn’t his thing or return to the same stage the following night and have the audience in hysterics. He opted for the latter and went on to become one of the most successful comedians of all time.

                  9. Theodor Seuss Geisel

                    Known to generations as Dr Seuss, the much-loved children’s author had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.

                    His books that weren’t good enough for these publishers went on to sell more than 600 million copies worldwide.

                    10. Oprah Winfrey

                      She’s a billionaire with her own TV channel and a penchant for giving away cars but Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore.

                      In 2013, Oprah reflected on her experiences during a Harvard commencement speech:

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                      “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

                      Creating your own TV channel is a sure way never to get fired again!

                      11. Stephen King

                        In another instance in the never ending series “Book Publishers Making Dumb Decisions”, mega novelist Stephen King had his first book Carrie rejected 30 times.

                        Dejected, King dumped the book in the trash. His wife retrieved it and implored him to resubmit it which led to his first book deal and spawned his illustrious career.

                        12. Vincent Van Gogh

                          A Van Gogh painting will cost you upwards of $100 million nowadays. But in his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh couldn’t get rid of the things.

                          He sold just one painting, ‘The Red Vineyard’, during his lifetime, and the sale came not long before his death. Unfortunately for Vincent, others got to enjoy the financial spoils of his lifetime of toils.

                          13. Elvis Presley

                            “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

                            These are the words that greeted Elvis Presley after his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry, after which he was promptly fired. Disposing of the keys to the truck, Presley went on to become the world’s biggest star with a legacy that endures.

                            14. Michael Jordan

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                              Either he was part of the greatest high school roster of all time or his coach made a huge mistake in cutting Michael Jordan from his high school basketball team. Six Championships and five MVPs later, Jordan became arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

                              Jordan famously said:

                              “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.”

                              15. Charles Darwin

                                The man credited with much of how we came to understand the world today, Darwin was considered an average student and abandoned a career in medicine as a result.

                                Darwin embarked on a lifetime study of nature that led to the seminal ‘On the Origin of Species’ and forever altered the way humankind looks at our existence.

                                Final Thoughts

                                These famous and highly successful people’s crowning achievements stem from drive and determination as much as ability.

                                Persistence and certitude are the difference between success and failure. So if you want to succeed, don’t be afraid to fail.

                                Fail often, fail fast and learn from your mistakes. The more times you fail, the closer you’re getting to success.

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                                Featured photo credit: Kal Loftus via unsplash.com

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                                Sebastian Kipman

                                Entrepreneur and Communication Expert

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                                Last Updated on August 20, 2019

                                26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

                                26 Useful Things to Learn Now That Will Change Your Life

                                If you pay attention to your everyday life careful enough, you’ll know that you can learn from everything and everyone you come across. Our life is basically full of useful lessons that we should learn.

                                Here are 26 useful things to learn that Abhishek A. Singh shared on Quora. Let’s see how these life theories would lead you to live a different life.

                                1. Primacy and recency: People mostly remember the first and last things that occurred, barely the middle.

                                When scheduling an interview, ask the employer the time slots they do interviews and try to be the first or the last.

                                2. If you work in a bar or in customer service of any kind, put a mirror behind you at the counter.

                                In this way, angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves in the mirror behind you and the chance of them behaving irrationally will be lowered significantly.

                                3. Once you make a sales pitch, don’t say anything else.

                                This works in sales, but it can also be applied in other ways.

                                My previous boss was training me and just gave me pointers. I was working at a gym trying to sell memberships. He told me that once I got all the small talk out of the way and presented the prices, the first person to talk would lose.

                                It didn’t seem like a big deal but it actually worked. Often there were long periods of awkward silence as the person tried to come up with some excuses, but usually they bought.

                                4. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait.

                                If you stay silent and keep eye contact, they will usually continue to talk.

                                5. Chew gum when you’re approaching a situation that would make you nervous, like public speaking or bungee jumping.

                                When we eat, our brain tell ourselves, “I would not be eating if I were danger. So I’m not in danger.” This has helped me to stay calm.

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                                6. People will always remember how you made them feel, not what you said.

                                Also, most people like talking about themselves; so ask lots of questions about them.

                                7. When you’re learning something new, teach it to a friend. Let them ask you questions about it.

                                If you’re able to teach something well, you will be sure that you’ve understood it very well.

                                8. If you get yourself to be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you.

                                It doesn’t always happen the first time, but it will definitely happen the next time.

                                9. The physical effects of stress — breathing rate and heart rate — are almost identical to the physical effects of courage.

                                When you’re feeling stressed in any situations, immediately reframe it : Your body is getting ready to be courageous, you are NOT stressed.

                                10. Pay attention to people’s feet.

                                If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they don’t want you to join in the conversation.

                                Similarly, if you are in a conversation with a coworker who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end.

                                11. Confidence is more important than knowledge.

                                Don’t be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask.

                                12. If you pretend to be something for long enough, you will eventually become it.

                                Fake it till you make it. Period.

                                13. Not to be creepy, but if you want to stare at someone unashamedly, look directly past them and wait for them to try and meet your eyes.

                                When they fail to do that, they’ll look around (usually nervously for a second) they won’t look at you again for some time. This is your chance to straight up stare at this person for at least 45 seconds.

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                                And as suggested by Brian Stutzman:

                                If you’re staring at someone and get caught, DON’T turn your head or your body to look away, because that just confirms that you were staring.

                                Just move your EYEBALLS off the person. Unlike turning your head, it’s instantaneous. And the person will think you were just looking at something behind them and that they were mistaken for thinking you were staring. Do it confidently, and ignore any reaction from the person, and you can sell it every single time.

                                After a second, you can even look back at them with a “Why are you staring at me?” look on your face to really cement the deal!

                                14. Build a network.

                                Become the information source, and let the information be yours. Even grabbing a beer with a former colleague once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office.

                                Former coworkers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in, great! Go to them for a beer, and ask about the office. It’s all about connections and information.

                                15. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother…

                                Pretend it is your grandmother, it will significantly reduce your road rage.

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                                  16. Stand up straight.

                                  No slouching, hands out of pockets, and head held up high. It’s not just a cliche — you literally feel better and people around you feel more confident in you.

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                                  17. Avoid saying “I think,” and “I believe” unless absolutely necessary.

                                  These are phrases that do not evoke confidence, and will literally do you no good.

                                  18. When feeling anxious, clean up your home or work space.

                                  You will feel happier and more accomplished than before.

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                                    19. Always buy the first pitcher or round of drinks.

                                    You’d be surprised how long you could drink on the phrase “I bought the first one.”

                                    20. Going into an interview… be interested in your interviewers.

                                    If you focus on learning about them, you’ll seem to be more interesting and dynamic. (Again, people love to talk about themselves.)

                                    21. Pay attention parents! Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control.

                                    For instance, when I want my son to put his shoes on I will say ,”do you want to put your star wars shoes on or your shark shoes on?”

                                    Pro-tip: In some cases, this works on adults.

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                                      22. Your action affects your attitude more than your attitude affects your action.

                                      As my former teacher said “You can jump and dance FOR joy, but you can also jump and dance yourself joyful.”

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                                      23. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to in that group.

                                      Notice who you look at and who look at you when you laugh with a group of people!

                                      24. If you want to build rapport or gain someone’s trust quickly, match their body posture and position.

                                      If someone is sitting with her legs crossed, cross your legs. If they’re leaning away from you, lean away from them. If they’re leaning towards you, lean towards them.

                                      Mirroring and matching body position is a subconscious way to tell if someone trusts you or is comfortable with you. If you’re sitting with your arms crossed and you notice someone else is sitting with her arms crossed, that is a good indicator that you have/are successfully built/building rapport with that person.

                                      25. The Benjamin Franklin Effect (suggested by Matt Miller)

                                      I find the basis of the Benjamin Franklin effect is very useful and extends far beyond pencil borrowing. This knowledge is useful in the world of flirting too.

                                      Asking a girl in your class if you can borrow a pencil or her notes or to explain the homework will make her more likely to like you than if you let her borrow your stuff or are the one to help her. Even just asking a girl to buy you drinks (facetiously) leaves a much bigger impression than offering to or actually buying a girl a drink.

                                      The best part is it kills 3 birds with one stone: you get the advantages of the favor itself, the person subconsciously likes you more, and it makes them more open to future favors and conversation.

                                      26. Handle panic and anxiety behaviors by tapping fingers (Suggested by Jade Barbee)

                                      When you’re feeling stressed, worried or angry, tap each finger tip while thinking (or speaking quietly) a few specific words about what is bothering you. Repeat the same words while tapping each of your 10 fingers, including thumbs.

                                      For example, tap while saying, “I’m so angry with her…” Doing so will likely take the charge out of the feeling and return you to a more resourceful (better feeling) state of being. It’s called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or “tapping,” and it is useful in many life situations – emotional sadness, physical pain, food cravings, traumatic memories…

                                      Featured photo credit: Nicole Wolf via unsplash.com

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