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10 Great Achievers Who Succeeded After Major Failures

Dr. Nikki Martinez, Lead Contributor

There is a wonderful quote by Thomas Edison where he said, “Many of life’s failures are people who do not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” This has always resonated with me, especially when I think of all the great successes in this world who had epic failures, but kept trying a little longer, and a little harder, before they achieved the success they became known for. Perhaps hearing some of these stories will inspire you, and let you know that even the people you assume were always natural successes, had failures of their own first.

10 Great Achievers Who Succeeded After Major Failures

1. I will start with a story that many of you might be familiar with. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He was assuredly devastated, but somehow this pushed him to practice and improve his skills. He went on to make his college team, the NBA, and become arguably the greatest player in history. He is quoted as saying,” 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.”

2. Steve Jobs is synonymous with Apple, as he should be, he was a founder! He was fired from was fired from his job with Apple, and then proceeded to fail at the next two companies he headed up. When he was asked to return to his job at Apple, he built it up to be the most successful company in America!

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3. When Walt Disney first started looking for work, he was rejected time after time. Many people telling him that he was not talented enough, that he was not cut out for this field. His brother had to get him his first job in the field. Despite all the negativity, and rejection, he persevered, and ended up with an animation empire by the end of his life.


4. Steven Spielberg was rejected both times he applied to film school. This would have been enough to cause many to give up on this dream and take a different path, but not Steven. He has had one of the most successful and beloved careers of any Director in history. His films are revered as classics and cutting edge. On a side note, the school that rejected him, ended up giving him and honorary degree years later!

5. Jack Canfield was rejected by 144 publishers before one finally bought the rights to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Their loss was definitely his and the one who took the chances gain. He is one of the most beloved authors, not to mention most successful, with his series of hope and inspiration. He has surpassed the sales and creativity goals that he has set for himself each time. Whenever someone has told him something was not possible, he simply proved them wrong through actions and belief in himself.

6. J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, was divorced, without any funds, and living on government assistance when she wrote the first book. She was rejected by numerous publishers, until one finally took a chance on her. Even that publisher did not think there was great success to be made with her book. We all know how this story ends, she is now a Billionaire with books, merchandise, and theme parks that people flock to.

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7. Did you know that Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard? He dropped out, and his first company was a failure. However, he did not let this deter his belief in himself, and he persevered. He went on to form the company we now know as Microsoft, and was the youngest self-made billionaire we had ever seen. He always felt that his greatest lessons were not his successes, but rather his failures. Personally, I think his greatest success is the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. They have donated most of what they have made to help people around the world.

8. When we think if Albert Einstein, we think genius. What we do not think about is an individual who was predominantly non-verbal until the age of 9. Someone who had many behavioral issues in school, and was even expelled. This young rebel went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921, and is best known for his theory of relativity. He has a quote that we could all live by, “Success is failure in progress.”

9. Stephen King was a troubled child, who lived in poverty, and with a lack of safety. He fell victim to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with his unhappiness, and received a great deal of rejection early in his career. He made a conscious decision to focus his energies, and his coping into his work, and this change produced great rewards. To this day, he is one of the most prolific and successful writers of our time with many books and movies to his name.

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10. Ludwig Van Beethoven once had a music teacher who told him that he was “hopeless.” Many do not know that he actually became deaf during his career, yet still managed to produce some of the most famous and noteworthy music of our time. He was able to “see” and “hear” the music in his head, and was someone who was revered and feared by his colleagues during his lifetime. His music lives on so many years later, which is the greatest testament to its beauty and perfection.

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