When you look at some of the most successful people in various fields, whether it’s business, technology, or artistic pursuits like acting or photography, it’s easy to imagine that they were born with some kind of innate talent that’s allowed them to breeze through life with very little difficulty, their immense natural gifts floating them to the top of the food chain where they remain today. This, however, is rarely if ever the case, and many of the world’s most successful people fail numerous times before succeeding, oftentimes being told they’ll never make it! Just as many will tell you they wouldn’t be where they are today without their failures and detractors- these things are just as much a part of the learning process as the victories. Here we’ve compiled a short list of people who, at one point, might have appeared miles away from any real success, but through time and effort, transformed their circumstances and achieved their dreams. A great read if you’re feeling uninspired and need a pick-me-up!
Widely regarded as one of the finest comedy actors of his generation, you might think Jim Carrey’s sharp wit and aptitude for physical comedy brought him instant success from a young age, but his early years were tougher than one might expect. Throughout his early teens, Carrey was working on his comedy while going to school and working shifts at a factory to support his family. At age 15, he performed his first gig and bombed… Horribly. Luckily for the field of comedy though, Carrey was undeterred and continued to work on his act, a few years later moving to Hollywood to pursue comedy and acting full time. However it would still be a while until Jim saw any real success. Struggling to make ends meet, Carrey would drive to the top of Mulholland Drive every evening and visualise his success. One evening in 1992, he wrote himself a check for 10 million dollars, for ‘Acting Services Rendered’. Two years later, Carrey was starring in his first major role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and has been a mainstay of Hollywood comedy ever since.
Being one of the richest men in the world, you’d be naive to assume that Bill Gates doesn’t have at least a bit of a knack for finding success in the technology business. However, it wasn’t always easy for him. Gates’ first foray into entrepreneurship was in 1973 at just 17- with two friends, he created Traf-O-Data, a piece of computer hardware designed to produce traffic reports from raw data. When the day came for the machine to be demonstrated in a sales pitch to the city of Seattle, the machine completely failed to work, and left Gates and his friends rather embarrassed. It didn’t keep him down for long however, and he and his business partner who he later founded Microsoft with have since both discussed the value of that failed project for teaching them lessons which were instrumental in Microsoft’s future massive success.
Manchester United star Marcus Rashford is a more recent example of someone who has reached the highest of heights in his profession by simply never giving up, even in difficult circumstances. He grew up in various deprived suburbs of Manchester, with his mother often skipping meals to ensure Marcus could eat, and depending on free school meals to get his necessary nutrition. Rashford pursued his career in football from a young age, overcoming more difficulties like being unable to even make it to training sessions due to his entire family working long hours, but he persevered until he was offered assistance by United’s coaching staff. Rashford is now one of the Premier League and England’s most prominent players, and is still heavily involved with his local community, campaigning against the food poverty which he himself suffered from in his early years.
Considered one of the United States’s greatest presidents and instrumental in abolishing the Atlantic slave trade, Abraham Lincoln actually experienced numerous failures before becoming one of the most beloved figures in American history. Before launching his political career, Lincoln served in the military, and actually ended his service still as a private, having been demoted from the much higher rank of captain. Lincoln soon began his career in politics, however it still took him many failed attempts to run for various positions in the government while he slowly worked his way up the ladder. Prior to becoming the president, he had even put his political career on hold after a disappointing election in 1848. Lincoln once spoke regarding his attitude on failure: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
It’s inevitable that at some moments in life, you simply won’t be making the progress that you wish you were towards your goals, or your situation isn’t ideal, or you’ve outright failed to achieve what you wanted to for some reason or another. The important thing, though, is not to try in vain to avoid failure. Failures and mistakes are best viewed as a learning opportunity that will aid you in your growth as a person and the tackling of any obstacle in your way. In the words of Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”