It happens to us all. You have bad moments. Moments where everything just crumbles around you, moments where you feel like you can’t do anything right. You don’t get a sale. Sometimes it feels like it’ll be easier just to give up and go home, that you won’t ever beat the odds.
And we’re shown examples of famous people, all throughout history, who seemed to have incredible success- who seemed to break down barriers and hurdle obstacles that are insurmountable to us.
The thing to remember, however, is the victors write the history. Those famous historical people? The ones who have completed near Herculean tasks? People don’t tend to dwell on the hardship and tribulations they experienced. People tend to dwell on how good they had it.
But none of them had a perfect record- and in fact some of them struck out dozens of times before they made it. No matter how much life brings you down, you have to keep trucking on, keep trying and trying until you succeed- and think of these famous people when the chips are down.
They never gave up. And you shouldn’t either.
1) Bill Gates
Bill Gates is now famous for being the richest person in the world. But he wasn’t always that rich- in fact, his first business he founded with fellow partner Paul Allen was called Traf-O-Data, and it failed. In fact, when they were pitching the product to potential clients and investors, the product didn’t even work. Predictably, the company never became very successful, and Bill Gates could have gone back to ordinary life, figuring he gave it his all and his all wasn’t good enough.
Except he didn’t. He and Allen went back to the drawing board, using the skills and lessons they had learned from Traf-O-Data’s failure to create Microsoft, now one of the most famous and powerful corporations in the world- and net Bill Gates the title of world’s richest man in the process.
2) Stephen King
Today Stephen King is famous for being one of the most prolific and successful novelists of our time. He wasn’t always, however: he was once just a regular writer who couldn’t get his novels published. In fact, King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected by publishers 30 times. He could have stopped, decided that writing just wasn’t for him, and returned to his life as an English teacher.
Instead, he kept on submitting the manuscript, and eventually Doubleday picked it up. Now King is a household name, having sold over 350 million copies of his books worldwide- many of which have also been made into very successful feature films!
3) Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison is, of course, now known as one of America’s greatest inventors and innovators- dubbed the Wizard of Menlo Park in his lifetime, he developed almost 1,000 patents. He didn’t start by knocking out patent after patent, however: he started out by failing.
Edison tried 10,000 times to refine the light bulb into the bulb that we know and use today. When asked about his failures, he merely replied:
“I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work.”
He could have stopped at 1,000, or 2,000, or 3,000. Most would have. But he didn’t, and through perseverance, grit, and hard work he succeeded and became one of history’s modern legends.
Jay-Z is one of the most powerful names in music today. He is a kingmaker, and is part of arguably the most powerful music couple in the world along with his wife Beyoncé.
And yet, when he started out, not a single record label would sign him. Anybody else might have quit, said they gave it their all. But Not Jay-Z.
He refused to take no for an answer and started selling CDs out of his car, creating his own independent label called Roc-A-Fella Records. He was able to get a distribution deal with Priority a year later, releasing his debut album called Reasonable Doubt and starting his meteoric rise to stardom that now has him holding a net worth of over $500 million and topping the Forbes list of the most influential people in the world.
5) Sir Isaac Newton
Newton is now widely considered one of the most important scientists ever to have made their mark on the subject. For most of his young life, however, he was regarded as a complete and utter failure. He never did well in school, faring so poorly that he was pulled from school and put to work running the family farm- something he also failed miserably at. In a last-ditch effort to get rid of him, an uncle sent him to Cambridge, where he could have continued failing.
But he didn’t. He instead applied himself, overcoming all his past failures and becoming one of the most influential thinkers in the history of mankind, his theories still the bedrock of everything from computers to rockets.
6) Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous presidents ever. But he wasn’t always such a success- his life was full of failure for decades before he became president. Here’s just a short list:
In 1832, he lost his job and the face for the legislature. In 1833, a business venture failed. In 1838, he was defeated in the race for speaker. In 1843, he ran again- and lost. 1848, 1849, 1854, 1856, 1858… all failures.
Until 1860, when he was elected to be the President of the United States of America and led it through one of the most trying times it has ever seen. It took Abraham Lincoln 28 years to see his vision through… but he did.
All of these people had 1 thing in common: the will to succeed, to overcome everything that came in front of them- because they knew, in the end, they would be victorious.
Do you have that drive? Can you keep going in the face of adversity- never knowing when your success will come, knowing only that it will?