20 successful people who defeated failure in life
Dwayne Johnson (Actor/Wrestler)
The Rock was initially a football player, playing for the University of Miami. Later on, he played for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League, and was cut two months into the 1995 season. The guys at the CFL simply told him he wasn’t good enough, he got kicked out. At that point of time, he was considered as an utter failure. He had to sleep in mattresses soaked with piss. 24 years of age, no job, no money. He had just 7$ to his name.
It was right at this juncture, that he decided to go for professional wrestling. In a way, if he was successful as a football player, who knew where he’d be now. This failure ultimately resulted in The Rock opting to become a professional wrestler. His dad was against it, as he didn’t want his son to go through the hardships of a professional wrestler, but The Rock was determined. He worked hard, trained for hours every day with his dad, and finally he debuted in the WWF at 1996. The rest, as we all know is history. His meteoric rise to stardom, the path was set. The foundation was laid. This failure ultimately resulted in The Rock becoming who he is today.
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter)
J.K. Rowling had just gotten a divorce, was on government aid, and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. When she was shopping it out, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. It was rejected dozens of times until finally Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, gave it a second chance after the CEO’s eight year-old daughter fell in love with it.
Henry Ford (Ford Motor Company)
Henry Ford was not the type of person that experienced success easily. As a matter of fact, in his earliest days within business, he failed at his endeavors. He had a high level of persistence and just knew he was destined to achieve success. With a high level of determination, he persisted through going completely broke five different times. Finally, he founded the Ford Motor Company and incorporated the company on the 16th day of June in the year of 1903.
In just a period of 10 years, the company became the world leader in the assembly line procedure. Today, the company is considered to be one of the largest and most profitable within the entire world. Regardless of the failures that Henry Ford experienced, he continued on until achieving his goals.
Stephen King (Writer)
King was broke and struggling when he was first trying to write. He lived in a trailer with his wife—also a writer—and they both worked multiple jobs to support their family while pursuing their craft. They were so poor they had to borrow clothes for their wedding and had gotten rid of the telephone because it was too expensive.
King received so many rejection letters for his works that he developed a system for collecting them. In his book On Writing, he recalls: “By the time I was 14…the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” He received 60 rejections before selling his first short story, “The Glass Floor,” for $35. Even his now best-selling book, Carrie, wasn’t a hit at first. After dozens of rejections, he finally sold it for a meager advance to Doubleday Publishing, where the hardback sold only 13,000 copies—not great. Soon after, though, Signet Books signed on for the paperback rights for $400,000, $200,000 of which went to King. Success achieved!
F. W. Woolworth (Woolworths Limited)
Some may not know this name today, but Woolworth was once one of the biggest names in department stores in the U.S. Before starting his own business, young Woolworth worked at a dry goods store and was not allowed to wait on customers because his boss said he lacked the sense needed to do so.
Mahatma Gandhi (Leader)
His is perhaps the most inspirational tale. Originally a barrister in India by profession, he was not a strong lawyer as he was unable to cross-question his witnesses. After spending sometime drafting litigation letters, he went to South Africa where he developed his political skills. It was not a cake-walk for him even there and his Satyagraha movement was fraught with difficulties even in India. Perhaps his biggest failure of all times was the partition of India and Pakistan.
Bill Gates (Microsoft Founder)
Gates didn’t seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
Ratan Tata (Businessman)
What do you do when you have a role model to look up to and then, you are asked to fill the role model’s shoes? When Ratan Tata became the chairman in 1991, he had a mammoth task set before him.
His futuristic views and liberal attitude did not go well with some of the top honchos at Tata which resulted in a tussle at the management level. At the very start of his career as chairman, two companies under him faced bankruptcy and his employee’s faith in him dwindled as he brought down the retirement age from 70 to 65, leading to an ouster of some of the oldest employees of the organization.
Despite the many failures he has seen, Tata Nano being the latest, Ratan Tata did not give up and continues to be a global figure even today.
Soichiro Honda (Honda Motors)
The billion-dollar business that is Honda began with a series of failures and fortunate turns of luck. Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbors, finally started his own business.
Harland David Sanders (KFC)
Perhaps better known as Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, Sanders had a hard time selling his chicken at first. In fact, his famous secret chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.
Jim Carrey (Actor)
When Carrey was 14 years old, his father lost his job, and his family hit rough times. They moved into a VW van on a relative’s lawn, and the young aspiring comedian—who was so dedicated to his craft that he mailed his resume to The Carroll Burnett Show just a few years earlier, at age 10—took an eight-hours-per-day factory job after school to help make ends meet.
At age 15, Carrey performed his comedy routine onstage for the first time—in a suit his mom made him—and totally bombed, but he was undeterred. The next year, at 16, he quit school to focus on comedy full time. He moved to LA shortly after, where he would park on Mulholland Drive every night and visualize his success. One of these nights he wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 for “Acting Services Rendered,” which he dated for Thanksgiving 1995. Just before that date, he hit his payday with Dumb and Dumber. He put the deteriorated check, which he’d kept in his wallet the whole time, in his father’s casket.
Akio Morita (Sony)
You may not have heard of Morita but you’ve undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony’s first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn’t cook rice so much as burn it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn’t stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.
Oscar Wilde (Writer)
Wilde, the British play-write and satirist was gay during a time when being gay could get you prison time. And it did. Unlike our examples above, Wilde started out privileged, with successful parents. He ended up being quite famous in his own life, but he died an early death as a direct result of his imprisonment. What is instructive is that he was willing to lose everything – and did – rather than pretend to be someone that he wasn’t. He also never lost his wit.
Tyler Perry (Actor/Director)
Perry had a rough childhood. He was physically and sexually abused growing up, got kicked out of high school, and tried to commit suicide twice—once as a preteen and again at 22. At 23 he moved to Atlanta and took up odd jobs as he started working on his stage career.
In 1992 he wrote, produced, and starred in his first theater production, I Know I’ve Been Changed, somewhat informed by his difficult upbringing. Perry put all his savings into the show and it failed miserably; the run lasted just one weekend and only 30 people came to watch. He kept up with the production, working more odd jobs and often slept in his car to get by. Six years later, Perry finally broke through when, on its seventh run, the show became a success. He’s since gone on to have an extremely successful career as a director, writer, and actor. In fact, Perry was named Forbes’ highest paid man in entertainment in 2011.
Albert Einstein (Physicist)
Most of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.
Oprah Winfrey (Actor/Host)
Oprah’s dealt with a lot throughout her public life—criticism about her weight, racism, intrusive questions about her sexuality, just to name a few—but she never let it get in the way of her ambition and drive. When you look at her childhood, her personal triumphs are cast in an even more remarkable light.
Growing up, Oprah was reportedly a victim of sexual abuse and was repeatedly molested by her cousin, an uncle, and a family friend. Later, she became pregnant and gave birth to a child at age 14, who passed away just two weeks later. But Oprah persevered, going on to finish high school as an honors student, earning a full scholarship to college, and working her way up through the ranks of television, from a local network anchor in Nashville to an international superstar and creator of her OWN network (we couldn’t help ourselves).
Walt Disney (Disney)
Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.
Christopher Reeve (Actor)
The man who played Superman becoming a quadriplegic was more than ironic – it was tragic. He never learned to be happy about his situation – who could? But, he did learn to live with it.
He had to take a moment every day to acknowledge where he was, what the reality of the situation was. But, he didn’t allow that to stop him. He traveled widely doing public speaking on behalf of people with spinal injuries, tirelessly raised money for his own and other foundations, and even became a movie director. He took what he had and tried to help others in the best way he could.
Fred Smith (FedEx)
Fred Smith was an undergraduate at Yale University in 1965. As part of the coursework, he wrote an economics paper exploring the process of transportation of goods in the United States. He found that the shippers relied on transporting large packages across the United States by means of truck or passenger airplanes. Smith thought of a more efficient transportation idea. He wrote a last minute paper on how a company carrying small, essential items by plane could be a much better business. He, however, did not go into details about how to actually run such a company. His paper was graded “C”. But Smith did not give up on the idea and launched the company in 1971.
But within three years of the founding of the company, Federal Express was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was losing over $1 million a month, due to the rising fuel costs. At its zenith, the company had just $5000 to its name.
Smith flew to Las Vegas and played Black Jack with the remaining company funds. Yes, all of the $5000. On Monday, the management of the company had a pleasant surprise lined up. FedEx had $32,000 in its bank account, which was just enough to cover the fuel for their planes and to continue operating a few days more.
Today FedEx is a global giant with operations in more than 220 countries and territories and annual revenue of US $45 billion.
Abraham Lincoln (US President)
Born in poverty, he had to face defeat throughout his life. He lost eight elections, twice failed in business, suffered nervous breakdown and was bedridden for six months. He could have quit many times, but he didn’t quit and became one of the greatest presidents in America.
Here is a sketch of Lincoln’s road to White House:
His family was forced out of their home and he had to work to support them. His mother died. He failed in business. Ran for State legislature –lost. Also lost his job-wanted to go to law school but could not get in.
He borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt.
He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
Ran for state legislature again—won !!!
He was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken and had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
He sought to become speaker of the state legislature and elector but was defeated. He ran for Congress but lost. He ran for Congress again, this time he won-went to Washington and did a good job. He ran for re-election to Congress but lost. He sought the job of land officer in his home state but got rejected. He ran for Senate of the United States-lost. His vice Presidential nomination got less than 100 votes He ran for U.S. Senate again- again he lost
Finally, he was elected as the President of the United States.