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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

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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                                Sebastian Kipman

                                Entrepreneur and Communication Expert

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                                Last Updated on April 14, 2021

                                4 Signs You Have a Victim Mentality (And How to Break out of It)

                                4 Signs You Have a Victim Mentality (And How to Break out of It)

                                Are you someone who has succumbed to the victim mentality trap? Ask yourself, when bad things happen, do you take responsibility for them, or do you blame other people or the world?

                                If it’s the latter, you likely have a problem with the victim complex. When challenges occur in life, it’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you and assume that the world is out to get you.

                                It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself occasionally when life gets tough. However, if it gets out of hand, it’s easy to start floundering in victimhood.

                                It is impossible to be the driver of your life if all you do is play the victim card. In the end, this is the fastest way to lose your power. You have two choices: believe that life is happening for you or to you.

                                What Is a Victim Mentality?

                                People who have a victim mentality believe that life happens to them rather than for them. As a result, they are quick to feel victimized when something doesn’t go as planned.

                                Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize or consider themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others.

                                At its core, a victim mentality is a form of avoidance. It’s a way of saying, “I refuse to take any responsibility for myself or my life.”

                                As a result, you may avoid stepping outside of your comfort zone, making difficult decisions, or doing anything to improve the state of your life. In short, you remain stuck and paralyzed by fear. I think we can all agree that this sounds like a bad place to be.

                                Steve Maraboli said it best:

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                                “The victim mentality will have you dancing with the devil, then complaining that you’re in hell.”

                                Unfortunately, there is a huge payoff to adopting this mindset. You are given the space to have a pity party, to ignore messy emotions, and to get sympathy from others. The fact that there are benefits of being a victim makes it difficult to move away from this habit.

                                It’s only when you are ready to shift your perspective and see the events of your life as fully in your control that you can step into your power.

                                How Do I Know If I Have a Victim Mentality?

                                Let’s look at four signs that you have a victim mentality and find ways how to break free from it.

                                You Catastrophize All Your Problems

                                Individuals who catastrophize problems are always thinking the worst. Catastrophizing your problems is when you allow yourself to believe that even the smallest inconveniences are the end of the world and can be a sign of victim syndrome.[1]

                                If you always assume that the worst will happen, the Universe will listen to you and give you precisely what you’re asking for. The next time you catch yourself thinking about how awful something is, work to put your experience into perspective.

                                Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” This will help remind you that the outcome may not be as bad as you expect it to be.

                                You Feel Powerless

                                One of the hardest things to deal with when you live with a victim mentality is feeling helpless. When bad things happen, it’s easy to feel like you have no control over the situation.

                                When you find yourself in one of these situations, focus on the things that you can change. Finding something that you can control can help you feel like you have some of your power back, and that’s a big step.

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                                Another way to break free from feeling powerless is to practice saying no. You don’t have to do everything that is expected of you. It is okay to put your own needs first.

                                You Engage in Negative Self-Talk

                                Self-doubt is intimately connected to a victim complex. Once someone falls for the victim mentality, they will subconsciously self-sabotage their best efforts so that they are congruent with their conscious mind.[2]

                                If you believe that you aren’t worthy, you will always feel as if the world is out to get you. Destructive beliefs will nourish victim behavior to the point where putting yourself down becomes the norm.

                                You Think That the World Is out to Get You

                                If you feel like the world is constantly trying to hurt you or make you miserable, you know that you have spiraled into victimhood. Life isn’t out to get you. In fact, it’s always trying to work in your favor if you choose to adopt a growth mindset.

                                Sometimes things will happen in life that are out of your control. It’s your job to decide how you are going to respond to those events. When you start seeing challenges as opportunities for growth, you start noticing that life is forcing you to level up, which is a blessing in disguise.

                                How to Stop a Victim Mentality

                                The first step to breaking out of a victim mentality is understanding and accepting that you have one.

                                The next step is to shift your thoughts from feeling like a victim to realizing that you are a survivor. It’s incredibly freeing when you realize you are no longer a victim of your life circumstances.

                                If you want to be a true survivor, you’ve got to focus your attention less on safety and security, and more on developing positive self-beliefs.[3]

                                Survivors know that they are the CEOs of their lives, meaning that they take full responsibility for everything that happens, both good and bad. Also, instead of seeing the world through a black and white lens, survivors are open to new ways of thinking and behaving if it will support their growth and evolution.

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                                1. Identify and Challenge Limiting Beliefs

                                Beliefs are conditioned perceptions that are built upon old memories of pain and pleasure. These memories are based on how we have interpreted and emotionalized our experiences over time.[4]

                                If these beliefs are disempowering in their nature, they lead to self-sabotage and a feeling of helplessness. If you want to stop being a victim, you first have to identify the critical inner voice that created feelings of victimhood and injustice.

                                When did feelings of self-pity, low self-efficacy, and false blame first take shape in your life?

                                A victim mentality can usually be traced back to one’s childhood, as a survival mechanism or as a learned behavior that we observed from our parents.

                                When you start to understand why you feel the way you do, you take responsibility for thoughts and realize that you have the power to change and shift the narrative from one of a victim to a victor.

                                For this to really work, you’re going to have to build up the courage to take action. For help with this, check out Lifehack’s Free Guide: The Dreamers’ Guide for Taking Action and Making Goals Happen.

                                2. Take Responsibility for Your Life

                                When you take responsibility for your life, you take ownership of your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You design life on your terms because you know that you have the power to create your reality.

                                The moment that you stop blaming the world is the moment that you shift from victim to victor. All of a sudden, life starts working in your favor because you chose to show up for yourself.

                                3. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

                                A victim mentality is grounded in a feeling of lack, as if there is never enough of something. The opposite of lack is abundance, which is where gratitude comes into play.

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                                The quickest way to stop being a victim is to adopt an attitude of gratitude. Make a habit of asking yourself, “What am I grateful for today?”

                                Gratitude is simply the conscious acknowledgment of what brings you joy in the present moment. When you stop obsessing about your own stuff and look at the bigger picture, you start to realize how lucky you really are.

                                Take a look at these 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

                                4. Think Positive

                                A victim complex thrives on negative thoughts. The best way to shift from victim to victor is to change your thinking and take care of your mental health. Instead of looking for the bad in something, find the silver lining amidst every challenge.

                                Your thoughts create your reality. When you start focusing on the good, you attract more positive things into your life.

                                That is the moment at which you will open yourself up to live an abundant life of positive growth and change that has the potential to transform your life.[5]

                                In the words of Martin Seligman,

                                “Optimism is very valuable for a meaningful life. With a firm belief in a positive future, you can redirect your life towards what’s most important.”

                                Final Thoughts

                                If you’re tired of playing the victim, decide that you are ready to become the master of your life and then act on it. You are capable of great things if you believe in yourself and act on your beliefs. Now is the time to take back control of your life and move away from the destructive victim mentality that has been holding you back.

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                                Featured photo credit: Remy_Loz via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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