10 Success Stories That Started With Failure


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There are a number of really successful individuals in the world who did not always have things easy. Some of them had to walk through fire and overcome hardship to get to the point where they were recognized for their work and their contribution to the society. Here are ten success stories that started with failure, but the individual involved did not give up till they reached their goal.

1. Abraham Lincoln failed in almost every venture he tried before he became the President of the U.S.A. in 1860. In 1832, he lost his job and then ran for state legislature in 1832 and was defeated, He lost his job again, his fiancee died, and he had a nervous breakdown. Then he won the presidency in 1860.

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Abraham Lincoln was a partner at a store in New Salem that failed in 1833, and he spent many years paying off the store’s debt. His fiancee Ann Rutledge died in 1835. In 1838, he ran for a local government seat and was defeated and also lost when he ran for Congress in 1843. He later got married to Mary Todd in 1842, but they lost three of their four children to different illnesses. The loss of their children affected them and Lincoln suffered from clinical depression.

He went on to be elected to Congress in 1846 but then lost renomination in 1848. In 1849, he was rejected for the position of land officer. Then between 1854 to 1858, he was defeated running for the U.S. Senate twice and also failed to get the nomination of vice president. He tried one more time and won the presidency in 1860. He was assassinated on April 15, 1865.(source)

2. J.K Rowling, the author of the best-selling book Harry Potter was kicked out by her husband after the birth of her daughter, became jobless and survived on welfare. Her first Harry Potter book was turned down by 12 publishing houses. Today, she is worth millions of dollars.

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At the age of 28, J.K Rowling was thrown out by her husband two months after the birth of their daughter. Even though she graduated from the University of Exeter, she ended up jobless seven years after graduation. With a dependent daughter and no source of income, she became clinically depressed and contemplated suicide after her marriage ended in 1993.

The idea for the Harry Potter books came to her while she was working as a secretary for Amnesty International. She eventually lost that job because she spent most of her time daydreaming and writing stories. At one point, she depended on welfare to survive and went most nights without eating so her daughter could eat. The first Harry Potter book was turned down by 12 publishers before it was bought by Bloomsbury Publishing in August 1996. Things became better after she received her first check of £2,500 for the first Harry Potter book. Today, the author is worth millions.(source)

3. Steven Spielberg has dyslexia and was bullied in school for being unable to read properly. His dyslexia was not diagnosed until he was in his 60s. His application to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts was rejected three times. Spielberg is worth billions of dollars today.

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Dyslexia was not a condition that was diagnosed during the 1950s when Steven Spielberg was a child. His inability to read properly made him a target for bullies in school.

Steven Spielberg’s teachers thought he was a lazy student who did not do the work required of him. They did not recognize that there was a problem with his reading. He moved on and developed a love for filmmaking. Spielberg applied to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts but was rejected because his grades were too low. He refused to give up and tried two more times to get in, but he was still rejected.

The filmmaker is now worth over a billion dollars with successful movies under his belt like E.T.: The Extra-TerrestrialIndiana Jones, and more.(source)

4. Soichiro Honda was rejected by Toyota the first time he presented them with his piston ring sample. He faced ridicule from his peers for the piston design. His factory was destroyed three times, but he rebuilt it every time it got destroyed. Honda Corporation has over 10,000 employees today.

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Soichiro Honda started a small workshop in 1938 and created a design for the piston ring. He presented the working sample to Toyota, but it was rejected because it did not meet their standards. He did not give up but went back to school. After two years of redesigning, he finally won a contract with Toyota.

Soichiro built a factory to fulfill his contract with Toyota, but it was destroyed by bombs twice during the war. He rebuilt his manufacturing factory, but it was once again destroyed by an earthquake. There was a shortage of gasoline after the war which led to people walking or using bicycles. He invented a small engine for his bicycle but was unable to meet the demands for more by his neighbors due to the shortage of materials.

He wrote letters to 18,000 bicycle shop owners asking for help, and he got help from 5,000 of them. Soichiro continued to work on the bicycle engines until the “Super Cub” became successful. Now. the Honda Corporation has over 10,000 employees in Japan and USA.(source)

5. Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper for not being creative enough. He lost his first company, which he created in 1921, to bankruptcy. His idea for Mickey Mouse was rejected by MGM as a talking mouse was thought to be too scary.

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Walt Disney created his first animation company in 1921 but it went bankrupt, and at one point, he was unable to pay his rent. In 1926, he went ahead to create a cartoon character called “Oswald the Rabbit.” He tried to get Universal Studios to pay better rates for it, but they hired the Disney artists out from under him. They also bought the ownership to the character

In 1927, he was told by MGM that his idea for Mickey Mouse would never work as the idea of a talking mouse was scary. In 1933, the Three Little Pigs was rejected by distributors who felt it did not have enough characters. The cartoon later became successful. The well-known cartoon, Pinocchio, lost almost a million dollars in its first release.(source)

6. Vincent Van Gogh was depressed and mentally ill and he spent some time in psychiatric hospitals. He committed suicide believing he was a failure. The artist was considered a failure while he was alive. His art is worth millions in present times.

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Vincent Van Gogh was considered a madman during his lifetime. He was prone to psychotic episodes and delusions. He was born into an upper-middle-class family and worked as an art dealer in his youth. He started painting in 1881 and was financially supported by his younger brother.

The artist spent some time in psychiatric hospitals and once cut off part of his left ear in a rage. His depression grew, and on the 27th of July, 1890, he shot himself in the chest and died two days later

Van Gogh was considered a failure in his time and only became famous after his suicide. His paintings are currently worth millions of dollars.(source)

7. Jim Carrey was born into a poor home. He worked at a factory as a teenager to provide support for his family. He was also an undiagnosed dyslexic who struggled with school and did not have a lot of friends.

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Hollywood actor Jim Carrey came from a poor family. As a teenager, he had to work eight-hour shifts at a factory to support his family. He left school at the age of 16 as he found it difficult to cope with school and his job at the factory.

Carrey started performing stand-up comedy at the age of 15 and was encouraged by his father not to give up on his gift. He once gave himself a post-dated check for $10 million. He got his big break with the movie Dumb and Dumber and was finally able to cash it. Jim Carrey became the face of comedy in Hollywood and even became the highest paid actor, earning over $20 million per movie.(source)

8. Colonel Sanders went broke at the age of 65 when his restaurant started losing business and he had to sell it. He slept in his car for two years and was rejected by restaurant owners 1,009 times when he tried selling his chicken recipe.

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Colonel Sanders had a fairly successful life. He had a very successful restaurant business, but it took a blow once the Interstate 75 was built. The road took traffic off Route 25 where his business was situated. Once Colonel Sanders noticed his business was going downhill, he sold the restaurant at an auction and used the money to pay his debts.

At the age of 65, after he received his first social security check of $105, he started looking for restaurants to which he could sell his chicken recipe. Colonel Sanders got rejected 1,009 times and slept in his car for two years before he found a restaurant owner who bought his recipe.

Nine years later, his chicken was sold at 600 restaurants in Canada and the USA. He sold Kentucky Fried Chicken for $2 million.(source)

9. Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was kicked out of industrial design school for not being talented enough. The design director of Porsche rejected his ideas and he had to outsource it to an external contractor to build his design.

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Ferdinand Alexander Porsche decided not to follow the steps of his engineering father and grandfather. He chose to study design instead of engineering. The designer of the Porsche 911 was kicked out of industrial design school in his first year as his talent was not recognized. He went on to work for his father at Porsche.

The design director of the company rejected his design ideas also, so he went to an external contractor and had the prototype of the Porsche 911 built. The car is still a bestseller today.(source)

10. Oprah Winfrey grew up in poverty, was raped at age nine and thirteen, ran away from home and gave birth at 14 to a son who died soon after. She still went on to become the world’s first African-American billionairess.

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Oprah Winfrey was born into a poor home in Mississippi to a single teenage mother. She was raped at the age of nine when she left her grandmother’s home to live with her mother. The sexual abuse did not stop and continued through the ages of ten through fourteen.

Her mother sent her out of the house at fourteen and she went to live with her father. It was at this point that she realized she was pregnant. She lost her son two weeks after delivery. Oprah and her father turned the experience around, and he made sure she became an excellent student.

After moving to Chicago to become a talk show host, she was told she could not compete with talk show host, Phil Donahue. But she proved her supervisors wrong and she surpassed him in ratings.(source)


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