10 Famous People Who Failed Repeatedly Before Succeeding


            I chant that saying over and over to myself in my head, regularly. As human beings, we value achievement. Our desire is for results. Usually immediately. When we don’t see them, it is easier to chalk ourselves up as failures and give up. Often we procrastinate until action is imperative. Giving the excuse, “I want it to be perfect.”

While there is nothing wrong with desiring quality, it often stands in the way of action. At least, that’s the case for me.

What we often forget is that the day to day drudgery of “trying” (and failing) is a part of success. It can even be argued that it is crucial to success.

The next time you consider not taking action, consider these famous people and just a few of the failures they experienced on the road to success.

1) Walt Disney

He was told he lacked imagination and drove his company to bankruptcy before his worldwide success.

2) Albert Einstein

He didn’t speak until age 4, couldn’t read until age 7 and flunked out of school.

3) J.K. Rowling

She had Harry Potter rejected repeatedly, while dealing with depression, divorce, poverty and single parenthood.

4) Theodore Geisel

More commonly known as Dr. Seuss. He had his first book rejected 27 times.

5) J.R.R. Tolkein

Publishers were extremely reluctant to publish The Lord of the Rings; they weren’t sure it would gain any popularity.

6) Lucille Ball

She was told by her drama instructors to find a new career. Remember I Love Lucy? Yeah, I thought so.

7) Winston Churchill

He was terrible at school and experienced years of political failure until he was elected Prime Minister in his sixties.

8) Michael Jordan

He was cut from his high school basketball team.

9) Stephen King

He had his first book rejected 30 times before he threw it in the trash. Good thing his wife rescued it and encouraged him to try again!

10) Elvis Presley

He was fired after only one show at the Grand Ole Opry and told he would fail and to go back to truck driving.

I've heard a lot of people comment about now successful people saying, "These people who rejected them are dumb, they just didn't know who [insert famous name here] was." No. No. No. A thousand times, no. There's a pretty popular meme circulating that I love about Oprah getting fired when she was young. The interviewer was shocked and gave a similar response. The person who fired her was obviously wrong to fire her. The interviewee (is that a word? I think it is.) Responded No. He probably wasn't. Because SHE WASN'T OPRAH YET. She became the powerhouse she is today, because of her FAILURES. Bam!  

We are shaped and molded based on our successes yes, but oftentimes in a much stronger way because of our failures. The humiliation and frustration that comes from failing or being told you aren't good enough is what eventually pushes people to a point where they flat out refuse to give up. Be that person. Don't let people knock you down. Learn from your mistakes and keep going. Try harder, think differently, approach it in a new way and with a new attitude. Maybe it'll take 27 more times. Eventually you'll get it right. It only takes doing it right once.