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Last Updated on March 2, 2021

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success

15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way To Success
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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.”

          If you feel like giving up, remind yourself of what Disney said. And if a gentle reminder is not enough, get your mindset shift and imprint the concept hard in your mind by joining Lifehack’s free Fast-Track Class – Activate Your Motivation. In this focused-session, you will learn how to build yourself a sustainable motivation engine to kepp you motivated even during tough times. Join now for free here.

          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:

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              “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.

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

                      “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.

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                            14. Michael Jordan

                              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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                                Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                                17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

                                17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd
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                                If you are like most people, you probably have big goals and dreams that you would like to succeed in — you want to be the top in your career, live a healthy lifestyle, or flourish in your relationships.

                                Everyone dreams of a positive future, but most people don’t realize the secret to a truly successful life:

                                You determine your future in the way you spend your everyday moments. If you want to be a successful person, you must consistently develop good daily habits. As Aristotle pointed out:

                                “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”.

                                Building positive daily habits is a huge challenge, but can you imagine the amazing things you could accomplish with just a little commitment and determination?

                                Creating lasting, healthy habits is the real key difference between people who are successful in life and those who are unsuccessful.

                                You might be wondering which specific habits make the biggest difference. Not to worry, I’ve compiled a comparison list to help you get a jump start on a successful future.

                                1. Successful people embrace change. Unsuccessful people fear change.

                                Change is a constant for all of humanity, and it is important that you develop a positive relationship with it.

                                When unexpected or unwelcome changes arise, ask yourself how you can embrace it instead of running away. A few practical ways to reverse a change-fearing mindset include:

                                • Take a moment to recognize and address any fears associated with the upcoming change.
                                • Communicate with a person you trust about your negative feelings toward change.
                                • Practice positive thinking, which you can read about in the next section.

                                2. Successful people exude joy. Unsuccessful people think, say and do negative things.

                                A joyful, positive disposition can seem like a distant reality in today’s cynical world, but it may be easier to achieve than you think. All you have to do is notice the good things around you and practice being thankful.

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                                Mindfulness and gratitude are not just buzz words – choosing a positive attitude can honestly change your life. Many studies have found that thankfulness leads to greater happiness. Furthermore, research indicates that gratitude may even have a lasting positive impact on the brain and overall mental health.[1]

                                3. Successful people forgive others. Unsuccessful people hold grudges.

                                As a human being, you have likely been offended or hurt by others plenty of times. Don’t give in to the temptation to hold a grudge. Let it go.

                                Note that forgiving someone does not equate to giving up your boundaries (which are very important) or even admitting that the offending party is right. You should choose to let go for your own peace of mind.

                                4. Successful people track progress. Unsuccessful people just criticize.

                                Some kinds of criticism, such as constructive criticism, are good for personal and professional development. The kind of criticism I’m talking about is the pessimistic, nagging, unhelpful variety. This is the kind of criticism in play when you are unfairly harsh to yourself or others.

                                Toss unfounded criticisms aside and consider tracking your “wins” or your progresses, no matter how small. Take mental notes or keep a progress journal.

                                If you have a solid sense of what you have achieved, you will be less tempted to be hard on yourself.

                                5. Successful people share information, data and ideas. Unsuccessful people hoard.

                                If you have useful information or generate brilliant ideas on the regular, your first instinct may be to keep it all to yourself for personal gain and solo recognition.

                                Instead of hoarding bright ideas, share them with your team. Your talents will be on display for the team, and the team will be able to support you and make your ideas a reality.

                                6. Successful people are humble. Unsuccessful people talk more than they listen.

                                Humility is key. The ability to listen to other people, really listen and understand, is essential to success in both work and relationships — and to listen you have to be humble.

                                Everyone has experienced the frustration of being in a one-sided conversation. When someone approaches you with a question or concern, put your own world aside for just a moment and give them the kindness of your full attention.

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                                7. Successful people take risks. Unsuccessful people take the easy way out.

                                The next time your heart is racing and you want to walk away, consider embracing the risk. You never know what might happen if you take a chance.

                                Embracing risks looks like accepting the speaking engagement even though it seems a little scary. Success takes the courageous route, not the easy route.

                                8. Successful people learn, improve and read every day. Unsuccessful people stop learning.

                                Instead of binge-watching a show tonight, save an hour before bed to read a book and expand your mind.

                                Unsuccessful people are afraid to be flexible – they don’t challenge themselves to learn new things. Avoid this pitfall by exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas every day.

                                9. Successful people handle problems well. Unsuccessful people act before they think.

                                The next time you run into a problem or even an emergency, try to work through your initial panic reaction with a few deep breaths.

                                Instead of acting rashly, think through your next actions as quickly but as logically as you can.

                                Learning to handle problems thoughtfully is an absolutely essential tool in the successful person’s toolbox (that’s you!).

                                10. Successful people accept responsibility for their failures. Unsuccessful people blame others.

                                Along with a previous tip about humility, this is one of the hardest things you’ll ever learn to do – but also the most rewarding. When you’ve failed, you must fight the urge to pass the blame. Successful people are able to fail honestly and gracefully.

                                And, hey, don’t feel bad about failing. Some of the most successful people in the world have failed too many times to count. It’s all a part of the process.

                                You can check out this article for more tips on how to fail well:

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                                How Failure Helps You To Succeed and Grow

                                11. Successful people work with passion and commitment. Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement.

                                A short and sweet lesson for you:

                                You should never expect to achieve the things you want without working hard.

                                Follow your passion and stay committed to pursuing it. Work hard and stick to your habits every day. You’ll earn your reward.

                                12. Successful people spend time with the right people. Unsuccessful people think they already know it all.

                                A lot of people miss out on useful relationships and information sharing because they think they can do it all alone.

                                Spend time with people who inspire you, spur you to be a better person, and remind you that you can’t go it alone.

                                13. Successful people make to-do lists and maintain proper life balance. Unsuccessful people waste their time.

                                Ah, time management. Unsuccessful people never master the art of organization and planning.

                                Here are a few tips for you when it comes to time management:

                                • Make to-do lists. Seriously, this will help you. Make time to do it every morning, evening, or whenever you are able.
                                • Keep track of your time. Are you happy with the way you are currently balancing things? What changes can you make?
                                • Keep a calendar full of your long-term goals (see next tip).

                                14. Successful people write down goals and think long term about their burning desires. Unsuccessful people get distracted every day.

                                Why is it so important to keep a long-term goal calendar? Here’s the deal:

                                The things you are passionate about today need a backbone.

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                                Give your passionate ideas sustainability by writing down goals and staying on task instead of succumbing to distraction.

                                15. Successful people compliment others. Unsuccessful people try to bring others down to their level.

                                There is no greater confidence than saying “no” to sudden jealous or envious feelings and choosing to sincerely admire someone’s talents instead.

                                Unsuccessful people live in a world driven by competition, but successful people know that building people up is far more rewarding than bringing them down.

                                16. Successful people want others to succeed. Unsuccessful people secretly hope they fail.

                                In the same vein as the point above, this tip is all about good intentions.

                                Care for the people around you. Encourage them toward their successes. Hoping that others fail will not help you at all.

                                17. Successful people know their purpose and mission. Unsuccessful people don’t know what they want to be.

                                The last thing that differentiates successful people from unsuccessful people is one of the most important:

                                Keep your mission in mind.

                                Don’t be swayed to and fro by passing emotions and events. Know who you are and pursue your dreams wholeheartedly.

                                Final thoughts

                                Above all, stay confident. Truly believe that you can be and are successful. Strive to prove it in your day-to-day habits and activities!

                                What are you waiting for? Choose one of the habits above and get started today.

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                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                Reference

                                [1] Berkeley University of California: How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain

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