Failure is part of life – and definitely a part of success.
In student life, family/love life, in your career whenever you have risked something, or attempted to do something new, you will have experienced some degree of failure – some small , some monumental.
Failure occurs more often than we think. It causes pessimism and brings us down. Walking away seems all too appealing, giving up is an easy option. But should you stop trying? The answer is clearly no. If you believe you are doing something right, then the key is to carry on in spite of initial failure.
So how do we overcome failure? How to rise up from the setbacks? Fortunately for us, many modern day legends have been through this path before and we can surely learn from their stories to stay inspired!
The secret of these incredibly successful people who have had their fair share of failures is their pure perseverance and ability to use failure as a springboard to bounce off and learn from the experience.
Here are a few worthy stories from across different industries!
“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction” - Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is a classic example of someone who was able to turn the tables and overcome life’s challenges to achieve extraordinary success in life.
Oprah Winfrey had a disastrous upbringing and had to suffer abuse, hardships during her early years. At age 22, she was fired from her show at local Baltimore station and moved to daytime TV which to anyone else would have been a step-down. But Oprah Winfrey turned this around to become a household name having the number one talk show and became an international sensation.
When everything fell apart she had the determination to keep moving forward and all the soul searching paid off as she rose to be most powerful business woman and a billionaire.
Lesson: Perseverance is the key – if you believe what you are doing is right, keep at it and move forward. Don’t be afraid of failure. In Oprah Winfrey’s own words “It is not a failure if you enjoyed the process”
“Every time I’ve failed, people had me out for the count. But I always come back”! - Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone’s rags to riches story is a great example of how to overcome adversity, never give up and continue to push forward even when you have hit rock bottom in life.
The actor came to New York in 1970s to pursue his dreams but was met with rejection over and over again by people telling him he could never make it. But he persisted.
The actor despite being broke, continued to knock on doors for an opportunity only to be rejected again. When he reached the lowest point in life, he wrote the script for “Rocky” for which he was offered a tremendous amount of money with one caveat — that he not star in the film. But he persisted yet again.
In spite of being offered a whopping US$350,000 for the rights, Stallone refused to sell unless he played the lead character. His persistence paid off eventually as it was agreed later on that he could be the star but he had to take a substantial budget cut to compromise.
Rest is history as Rocky became a massive success and eventually made into a series of seven boxing films all of them with Slyvester Stallone as the lead actor!
Lesson: Never give up. Nothing of value ever comes easy. You must work for it, through adversity.
“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”- Michael Jordan
The greatest basketball player of all times, NBA Superstar Michael Jordan is an undisputed role model for many young, aspiring athletes.
However his rise to fame is not without failure. When he was a sophomore in high school, Jordan was passed up for the varsity basketball team. This became a turning point in his career. He took it upon himself to train harder and when he wanted to give up, used to picture the list without his name and pushed himself to work harder.
Even after entering the NBA as a professional basketball player, it took him a staggering 7 years before he earned the title. The rest would be history as he won 3 in a row, twice in his career to give him a total of 6 NBA rings.
It was this intense effort, years of practice and the ability to take failure in stride and bounce back that made Michael Jordan the star that we know today!
This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Lesson: Failure is inevitable but it is the courage to continue that matters more! Don’t quit when it becomes hard!
“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.” --- J.K. Rowling
Author of the successful fantasy series “Harry Potter” did not have an easy life. She was a self-proclaimed failure being divorced, a lone parent bankrupt and living on welfare when she wrote the first three chapters of the “Harry Potter” book.
She had hit rock bottom, was clinically depressed and she put all that she got in her only solace – writing.
Even after submitting the manuscript to a dozen publishers, she did not have any luck until finally editor at Bloomsbury Publishing house in London decided to publish as his 8 year old daughter read the first chapter and immediately demanded to read the rest of the book.
J.K.Rowling was informed that she would need a day job as there would not be any money in children’s books!
Rest is history as the Harry Potter series has won multiple awards, translated over 80 languages and sold over 400 million copies! They have been the basis of series of Harry Potter films as well. The Harry Potter books have been bestselling books and have gained recognition for sparking an interest in reading among the young at a time when children were thought to be abandoning books for computers and television.
Today, she is one of the richest and most influential authors in Britain! And she credits much of her success to her failure!
She explained in a Harvard commencement speech, “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
Lesson: Hitting rock bottom is not the end but is a foundation for a new beginning. Learn to work within your limitations and excel by playing to your strengths. Accept failure as a part of the process and keep going. As they say hitting bottom means only way is to move upwards!!!
“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” - Steve Jobs
One of most innovative thinker of our times, Steve Jobs needs no introduction! From being a college drop out to tech visionary, he had to go through some serious bumps along his way.
His relentless drive to achieve intense perfectionism of Apple’s tech products and attention to every single detail of design aesthetics, intolerance towards mediocracy made his management style less admirable. He got fired from Apple Inc, the company he actually founded with Ronald Wayne and Steve Wozniak.
Jobs saw this move as an incredible personal failure that he had been pushed out of the company he had worked so hard to grow into a recognizable brand in the personal computer industry. He admits in an interview “what had been the focus of my entire adult life, was gone. It was devastating."
He then found NeXT and took over Pixar before eventually returning to Apple.
Once he took over Apple, he uplifted the company with one game changing hit after another and was responsible for many great tech products including iPod/iTunes which completely revolutionized the music industry, and the iPhone which set new standards in smartphone industry.
Even though Steve Jobs is no longer with us, he is still cherished as a visionary with the products he shaped and lessons he imparted along the way!
Lesson: Take risks, push harder for the results and accept that there are failures! But failure is not the end. It only means you need to learn from that experience, forget the mistake but remember the lesson and continue your journey.
So the next time when you attempt something new, do not dread the “F” word! First try to avoid failure by all means and if inevitable then embrace it with open arms and use it as a fuel to build resilience and motivate yourself to try harder, work smarter and reach your potential!
And knowing these famous failure stories, rest assured you’re in good company!
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