10 Successful People That Failed Miserably Before Making It Big
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
Everybody fails at something. Steve Jobs had failures, as did Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, David Beckham and pretty much anyone else you can think of who ever made a success of their lives. Successful people were not born with a silver spoon, and neither did they achieve instant success. They’re human beings who had to fail first before winning.
This is something to always bear in mind when you’re considering taking on a huge venture that might not work out. You might want to do something, but because the price of failure is so high, you back away.
Some of us don’t try anything at all. That’s how scared we are of failure. We’ve been taught from an early age that failure is shameful, and that it’s better to not take the steps that could bring us closer to defeat.
The truth is that you’ll never achieve your dreams without a few failures. If you’re looking for some inspiration to push you on, here are 10 successful people who failed miserably before making it big.
Most comics who are booed off stage during their first shows will give up. After all, booing is easily the biggest dagger an audience can aim at a comedian. If it doesn’t ruin your show, it definitely kills your confidence.
Not so Jim Carey. After being booed off stage during his first ever standup gig in Toronto, Jim auditioned for a role on Saturday Night Live. They turned him down.
Undeterred, he continued to gig and audition. Eventually, he made it big time.
The world knows Will Smith as the good guy of Hollywood. He’s always smiling, and (mostly) always starring in great films. From Independence Day to Bad Boys, Men In Black to The Pursuit of Happiness, Will Smith has entertained millions of us.
Although he’s now easily one of the most powerful actors in tinsel-town who commands humongous figures for each role he plays, things weren’t always so plain sailing. Before making his name in hit U.S. sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Will owed the IRS almost $3,000,000 in taxes. Wow.
He pulled through, and become a household name.
Everyone knows Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe from Friends. Even my grandmother recognises her! But while we all take Lisa’s lucrative role for granted, she almost missed out on her big break.
A few years earlier, Lisa auditioned for the role of Roz in Frasier. Obviously talented, she got the role – but was soon cut. Rejection could easily have ruined her confidence, but Lisa believed in her worth. She got back on the horse, applied for the role of Phoebe and made her millions.
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh emerged at a time when the idea of a starving, tortured artist was entirely new. Had he been born a hundred years earlier, he’d probably have settled into a quiet job working for the church.
But because of the success of the French Impressionists, artistic Vincent was convinced to persist with his unorthodox art, despite the fact that nobody was buying it.
Indeed, he was the only one of his peers who never sold a single painting during his lifetime.
He’s now having the last laugh, as his paintings these days sell for millions. Vincent’s story is a testament to persistence, innovation and believing that what you are doing is right.
Most singers who had the setbacks Katy Perry has had would have kicked it in long ago and returned to their day jobs. But Katy, who had recording contracts terminated three times before making it big, always believed in herself even when the odds were stacked against her.
She is now one of the biggest names in pop music.
Lady Gaga is one of the most recognisable faces in pop music. Her records sell in their thousands, and her songs are played all over the world.
But things haven’t ran smoothly since the start. She was signed to a major record label early in her career, but was dropped after just three months.
She learned from the experience and came backs stronger. Her 2010 hit Poker Face broke her into the mainstream, and the rest is history.
Steven Spielberg emerged in the seventies at a time when Hollywood was changing for the better. The old studio system had been overtaken by the “New Hollywood” movement which was led by names such as Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino and Martin Scorsese. The new movement meant that directors had full control over their movies, giving birth to the American auteur.
Steven Spielberg was himself a budding auteur who had incredibly self-belief. He was turned town by USC’s film school twice, but didn’t let the setbacks get to him. He got his big break when he was asked to direct The Sugar Cane Express, and hasn’t looked back since.
Oprah Winfrey is an inspiration to millions of women around the world. And like the rest of us, she’s had more than her fair share of setbacks. Raised by a single mom in a tough, impoverished neighbourhood, she got her big break on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV.
It didn’t last long, though – she was fired for being too emotional connected to the stories she worked on.
Harry Potter might be loved by millions around the world today, but it wasn’t liked by publishers in the mid-nineties.
After struggling through a divorce that left her depressed, on welfare and with a child to raise by herself, J.K Rowling sent her manuscript for Harry Potter to 12 major publishers.
All twelve rejected it.
When Bloomsbury finally accepted it, they printed only 1,000 copies, half of which were given to libraries.
It was only until 1998, when the book won awards, that things really took off for an incredible writer who never gave up.
“I’ve missed more than 900 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.”
– Michael Jordan
NBA superstar Michael Jordan knows more than most that failure is just part and parcel of life. It happens.
Before he missed almost one-thousand shots in his blockbusting career, Jordan was rejected by his own high schools’ varsity basketball team.
He proved his worth later on, and broke records with the best Chicago Bulls team in history.
What are your favorite failure to success stories?