7 Inspiring People Talk About the Last Time They Failed—and How They Bounced Back

These are lessons we can all learn from.

It’s easy to assume that successful people never fail, but achieving great things rarely comes without setbacks. Here, 7 inspiring people tell Thrive Global about the last time they overcame failure.

Thrive Global: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

Jillian Michaels, Fitness Expert and Entrepreneur

From Michael's Thrive Questionnaire

Thrive Global: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?

Jillian Michaels: "All the time. And I overcome it by learning from my mistakes. I have no issue with failure. I just make sure to not have the same ones twice."


Lester Holt, Award-Winning Journalist and Anchor 

From Holt's Thrive Questionnaire

"The last time I felt like I failed was when I was demoted at my last local news anchor job. My ego took a bruising. I overcame it by being highly successful at my next job, at MSNBC."


Yomi Abiola, International Model and Journalist

From Abiola's Thrive Questionnaire

"I led a women's circle organized by someone I had never worked with before. It didn't go the way I had envisioned and that felt like a failure to me. I gave myself permission to feel bad, I reflected on what I needed and didn't ask for. I promised myself to ask for what I need going forward. I jumped back in the saddle this time with partners that knew what it mean to create safety."


Nastia Liukin, Olympic Gold Medalist

From Liukin's Thrive Questionnaire

"2012 Olympic Trials. I went in as the reigning Olympic All-Around Champion. All eyes were on me. On my best event, I fell…face first. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to crawl under a rock. I got back up and finished my routine, knowing I had absolutely no chance of making my second Olympic Team. I landed on my feet, and for the first time in my entire life I had a standing ovation. 20,000 people were on their feet cheering for me, for the absolute worst routine of my career. When I won the Olympics four years prior, nobody stood on their feet. Sure they were cheering for me, but when I fell on my face in front of 20,000 people, when I finished that routine they all rose. It truly became the defining moment of my career. I also thought that in order for people to love and support me, I had to win, to be the best, to get a gold medal. The moment I had at the 2012 Olympic Trials made me realize life isn’t about winning, but more so the journey."


Jessica Hendrix Yee, Founder of The Brave Collection

From Yee's Thrive Questionnaire

"When I saw another woman’s success as competition instead of inspiration. Reframing my mind to be energized by other people’s successes instead of demoralized or competitive."


Brandon Stanton, Best-Selling Author and Creator of Humans of New York

From Stanton's Thrive Questionnaire

"There have been a few times that I’ve tried to strong-arm a happy ending to a particularly tragic story that I’ve shared on Humans of New York. My inability to force a positive outcome has caused me to reflect on my role as a storyteller and acknowledge my limited ability to impact the stories themselves."


Aarón Sanchez, MasterChef and Television Personality

From Sanchez's Thrive Questionnaire

"Sometimes I feel like I am failing my son because I travel and work so much, but I took him to the beach for a month over summer vacation and spent really good quality time with him. Having a family in this fast-paced industry can be challenging at times, but I do what I can to show my love and devotion to the people I really care about. My son is my biggest pride and joy in my life and being a parent has been the biggest inspiration to set an example and carry on my legacy. I take it very seriously and I want to ensure that I raise him to be a respectful, caring, intelligent person who contributes to society. As a Mexican American, I feel now more than ever, that his generation will lead by example of how Latinos and Latinas enrich our culture here in the States. I always want him to feel connected to his culture and know the importance of our lineage. He by no means needs to go into the culinary world, all I ask is that he is a well-rounded person that knows and acts on his ability to be whatever he wants to be."

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