9 personalities whose stories of failure will inspire you to keep trying

9 personalities whose stories of failure will inspire you to keep trying

Learn the importance of failing and how these personalities saw their way through their failures to climb on the top.

It is not unnatural to fear failure, we have been conditioned to recognize success with an associated happiness, while some people don’t even want to think about failures. If you have not failed even once in your life (like in much Japanese anime), then probably you have not learned much. It is considered human to make mistakes or fail from time to time.

People who have not failed, have not truly lived (Wikimedia Commons)
People who have not failed, have not truly lived (Wikimedia Commons)

It is because people don’t like to hear about failures that we only hear of the success stories and heroes that have made a difference by being successful in the field. Though we overlook their failures, a lot of them have been lessons to those successful people. Like it or not, failure presents you with the best chance of learning and changing. As a great anime hero has once said, "When you are at your lowest, you are open to the most profound change."

Society frowns on failures (Pixabay)
Society frowns on failures (Pixabay)

Let’s look at some of the popular figures who have braved it through their failures:

1. Jim Carrey

He was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid (Wikimedia Commons)
He was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid (Wikimedia Commons)

Recognized as one of the household names in comedy and acting, Jim carry has given us movies that are benchmarks of comedy. He still stands as one of the most loved comic actors of all time and his works are considered close to classics. However, he hit many roadblocks before tasting success in his life, and even then, life has not been too easy for him.

He still considered the pioneer in comedy (Wikimedia Commons)
He still considered the pioneer in comedy (Wikimedia Commons)

In his formative years, he was booed off-stage during his first ever comic stand-up in Toronto. Later when he auditioned for Saturday Night Live for the 1980-81 season, he failed again and was not able to get the job. 

Later he opened up about his way of getting himself back on track, saying that he used the Law of Attraction by writing himself a check of $10 million and keeping it in his wallet. 7 years later he got the same amount paid to him for his role in 'Dumb and Dumber'.  

2. JK Rowling

She has to file for government-assisted welfare (Wikimedia Commons)
She has to file for government-assisted welfare (Wikimedia Commons)

Besides Harry Potter, Rowling has a story of much real and greater struggle. Her success did not come easy at the time when she was developing the idea of Harry Potter series. From the time of conception the Harry Potter series, she had been facing major life challenges while writing it. 

She became one of the most loved writers ever (Wikimedia Commons)
She became one of the most loved writers ever (Wikimedia Commons)

At a point, she was divorced, jobless, broke and had a dependent child from her failed marriage. Later she filed for the government-assisted welfare. She had very little to look forward to when 12 major publishers had rejected Harry Potter. It was her ability to learn from her failures and unyielding spirit that kept her going until Bloomsbury accepted the manuscript and published it. We take away the power of belief and perseverance from her story.

3. Henry Ford 

He had to file for bankruptcy twice (Wikimedia Commons)
He had to file for bankruptcy twice (Wikimedia Commons)

Revered as one of the men who built America, and a contributor to the American automobile culture. Henry Ford's success was not just a fluke or a one-time thing which made him the automotive industry giant. His idea of having a company saw major failures in the form of bankruptcies.

Ford's Model T went on to sell over 17 million units (Pixabay)
Ford's Model T went on to sell over 17 million units (Pixabay)

Ford's first attempt to open an automobile company declined to bankruptcy. His second attempt in 1901 resulted in his departure from the company, which later became Cadillac Automobile Company. After two major failures, he managed to start his third company which later became one of the most successful automobile companies of all time. He did not stop believing in his dream and passion which led him to see through a public failure like bankruptcy. 

4. Colonel Sanders 

He was 50 when he found his recipe (Wikimedia Commons)
He was 50 when he found his recipe (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the most iconic figures and iron-willed of people out there. Sanders was not a success story until he was 62. He was rejected by at least 1009 people when he pitched his chicken recipe. Sanders had to work multiple temporary jobs to make ends meet. 

He had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet (Wikimedia)
He had to work multiple jobs to make ends meet (Wikimedia)

After perfecting his chicken recipe at the age of 50, he set out to sell his franchise-model chicken restaurant. Despite being rejected, he kept working through them and finally opened his restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah. The restaurant tripled its sales within a year, with 75% of revenue coming from Sander's chicken. His tale is that of unyielding tenacity and the will to go on, where your age is just a number. 

5. Walt Disney

He was fired for lacking imagination (Pixabay)
He was fired for lacking imagination (Pixabay)

A name which still creates ripples in the world of entertainment and cartoons - Disney's rise to success is one of the most inspiring tales in the world of animation. He was fired from Kansas City Star paper by his editor in 1919, on the grounds of lacking imagination and good ideas. 

His first company had to file for bankruptcy (Wikimedia commons)
His first company had to file for bankruptcy (Wikimedia commons)

He failed again while trying to acquire an animation studio which later landed him bankrupt due lack of management of funds and pressure of popularity he enjoyed in Kansas City. Despite failing in ways which didn't leave him more than a few pennies, he kept on reinventing himself and his ideas when she moved to California. There would very few people in the world who doesn't recognize this name. 

6. Sir James Dyson

Innovation needs an undying will to strive (Wikimedia Commons)
Innovation needs an undying will to strive (Wikimedia Commons)

This man stands as the example of fortitude and self-belief. His idea was to use the concept of cyclonic separation in order to create the world's first bagless vacuum cleaner - Dual cyclone. Dyson went through 5,126 failures before getting the concept right. Despite the tremendous amount of efforts required, it was his will to not give up that gave his idea the life it needed. 

It took him 5126 failures before making a working bagless vacuum cleaner (Wikimedia)
It took him 5126 failures before making a working bagless vacuum cleaner (Wikimedia)

His struggles didn't stop there. He was not getting any distributor in the UK due to the product's revolutionary nature. Even after getting the patent, no manufacturers were ready to accept it still. Having no other option, he created his own company in 1993, at the age of 46 to market his product. He is worth $3 billion because he refused to give up. 

7. Thomas Edison 

He is the most successful inventors of all time (Wikimedia Commons)
He is the most successful inventors of all time (Wikimedia Commons)

The man responsible for changing America's sleeping patterns, Edison was more than consequential in his bid to bring light to people. He has been attributed with failing over 10000 times while developing the viable light bulb that can be safely used. He had over 9000 failed attempts before creating a working light bulb.

He took failures as lessons in learning (Wikimedia
He took failures as lessons in learning (Wikimedia

Edison is also the same person who was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. It feels like a funny irony now, but the weight of rejection is still heavy on those who have gone through it. However, because of his failures, he also became the greatest innovator of all time with over 1,093 US patents to his name, along with many others in UK and Canada. His company, GE, is still one of the largest publicly-traded firms in the world, continually innovating across virtually every spectrum.

8.  Arianna Huffington

Her second book was rejected by 36 publishers (Wikimedia Commons)
Her second book was rejected by 36 publishers (Wikimedia Commons)

The founder and editor of Huffington Post is not a stranger to failure. She is of the opinion that failures have significant contribution in the build-up to success. The founder of the Huffington Post Media Group didn’t have an easy start to her in her life. Born in Athens, Greece and had to move to the UK for her higher education at 16.

She was subjected to alienation because of her accent and struggled to be accepted. While learning to debate, she was constantly under pressure to get her speech right. “I was terrible,” She told CNN, “My accent, if you can believe it, was even heavier. In the UK having a foreign accent at the time especially was still seen as really alien.  After multiple rejections, she was able to land the position of the President of Cambridge Union debating society.

She is now an author of 13 books (Wikimedia Commons)
She is now an author of 13 books (Wikimedia Commons)

Though her first book did considerably well, her second book was rejected by 36 publishers. Despite the staggering number of rejections, she kept on learning from her lessons. “You can recognize very often that out of these projects that may not have succeeded themselves that other successes are built.” She is now an author of 13 books.

Huffington Post now holds operations in six countries with a HuffPost Live streaming network that was launched recently.

9. Florence Nightingale

She was also called the Lady of the Lamp (Wikimedia Commons)
She was also called the Lady of the Lamp (Wikimedia Commons)

One of the most iconic and persevering women in the times when progress and revolutions were discussions that were held only by men, Florence was a force that kept coming after every rejection.

She was appointed the superintendent of the Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London in 1853 after studying nursing at the Institute of Protestant Deaconesses in Germany after facing opposition from her family. Due to the British soldiers’ peril on the frontline caused by diseases such as typhus and cholera, Nightingale was dispatched as the superintendent of the female nurses at Scutari, Turkey.

She brought down the mortality rate of patients from 40% to 2%
She brought down the mortality rate of patients from 40% to 2%

Her suggestions to improve the conditions in the army hospitals were taken as personal insults by the military officers and doctors, while the soldiers were unwashed, without blankets, soaps or decent food and surviving in deplorable conditions in facilities that were infested with vermin. The prevailing prejudice against women in medicine had kept her from producing results initially.

So she used her contact at The Times to bring this issue to the public’s attention. She reported the deplorable conditions that army hospitals were in and how they were being treated. This led to the British citizens to organize relief funds. Her systems of laundry, kitchen operations and caregiving to the soldiers was based on statistics and analytics that she had learned. Her initiative of reforming the sanitation in army hospitals reduced the death rate among patients from 40% to 2%.

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