5 Famous Personalities Who Overcame Failures Before Becoming Hugely Successful

If these personalities have overcome failures, you can do it too.

Sylvain Saurel
Oct 3, 2019 · 7 min read
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Photo by Ian Kim on Unsplash

Everyone dreams of achieving great things in life and reaching success. Unfortunately, only a few people succeed and most people quickly give up their dreams at the first failure. We must admit that failure is often poorly perceived in our modern society.

However, this is a mistake because failure is an integral part of the road to success. I must even say that it is one of the most important components. Indeed, very few people succeed at the first attempt for achieving great things. Most of the time, the personalities you admire first experienced several significant failures before finally triumphing because of their willpower to improve and adapt.

These personalities very quickly understood that failure is to be considered as a springboard to future success. A necessary evil to learn and get closer to their highest goals. If you still doubt the virtues of a failure properly analyzed and apprehended, I think you should absolutely discover the stories of the 5 famous personalities of whom I will tell you.

What do they have in common? They have all experienced at least one resounding failure in their lives in order to finally reach the top by force of willpower and work. Inspiring examples for you and me.

Michael Jordan Was Cut From His Basketball Team At High School

I’m going to start by talking to you about Michael Jordan. Whether you like sports or not, you must know Michael Jordan. He is simply the greatest basketball player of all time. For many, he is the man who has enabled the NBA to become the global phenomenon we know today.

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To see him play and achieve so many accomplishments over the course of his career, you must imagine that he has always been successful on his basketball teams.

Well, think again!

When he was 15 years old, he was excluded from his basketball team at High School. Although talented, Michael Jordan was not tall enough according to his coach at the time. Instead, the team coach preferred to select a certain Leroy Smith who was much taller.

Michael Jordan went home and cried his eyes out as he likes to remind us:

“I went to my room, closed the door and cried. For a long time, I couldn’t stop crying.”

With a broken heart, Michael Jordan even wanted to give up basketball for a while before his mother convinced him to overcome this huge disappointment. From this failure was finally born his extraordinary willpower never to give up again and always to win everything.

Doubling his efforts, he finally climbed the ladder one after the other and became the global icon we all know today.

Walt Disney Was Fired From A Newspaper For Lacking Imagination

Today, everyone knows Walt Disney for the many cartoons and blockbusters that the company has been producing for many years. At the origin of this firm, we find Mr. Walter Elias Disney who set up an animation business, the Disney Brothers Studio, with his brother Roy in Hollywood in 1923.

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This small business was finally renamed Walt Disney Studio in 1926 and became a success story after the creation of the famous Mickey Mouse in 1928 by Mr. Walt Disney.

Creating such a successful character requires a lot of imagination and creativity. In fact, you must think that Walt Disney has always been recognized for this gift.

Again, I will disappoint you by explaining that this same Mr. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper, the Kansas City Star, in 1919 because his editor thought he lacked imagination and had no good ideas!

Such a setback when you want to have a career in the world of animation would have discouraged many people. Not Mr. Walt Disney who decided to go to Hollywood where he would be able to take full advantage of the famous creative potential that he seemed to lack according to his editor at the Kansas City Star…

Mr. Walt Disney’s story clearly shows us that we must never give up on our dreams and above all use failures to move forward.

Steve Jobs Was Unceremoniously Removed From Apple

One of the most brilliant entrepreneurs of the past 50 years, Steve Jobs created Apple from scratch with Steve Wozniak in the mid-1970s.

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By combining his marketing genius with Steve Wozniak’s technical genius, Steve Jobs quickly succeeded in making Apple a global success. Nevertheless, despite all he could bring to Apple, Steve Jobs was fired without any recognition of the company he had founded in 1985.

Half-mast sales and a power struggle between Steve Jobs and John Sculley, whom Jobs himself had hired to Apple in 1983, finally led to the dismissal of Steve Jobs from Apple by the board of directors.

At the age of 30, Steve Jobs was totally devastated.

Nevertheless, he decided to go back into battle despite this failure in order to show everyone the monumental mistake made by Apple’s board of directors. He quickly founded NeXT Computer, with which he was once again successful and which Apple bought for more than $400 million in 1997.

Even better, he bought the Pixar animation studio from Georges Lucas in 1995. There are only two years left at the head of Pixar. The time to get the company on good track by redirecting it towards animation films with the release of Toy Story and for which Walt Disney will then acquire for more than 7 billion dollars in 2006!

Steve Jobs’ greatest revenge came in 1997 when he was called back to head Apple, which was in great difficulty. His sense of innovation and marketing will then do wonders again and allow him to revolutionize the world of smartphones with the launch of the iPhone.

While Apple is now valued at around $1 trillion, Steve Jobs’ story clearly shows that failures are a stepping stone to success for those who move forward and continue to fight.

Oprah Winfrey Was Demoted From Her Job As News Anchor Because Of Her Empathy

The first black woman to become a billionaire in the history of the world, Oprah Winfrey is now admired by all. She became the queen of talk shows in the United States and created a new genre at the time that revolutionized television.

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In 2019, no one would dare tell her that she is unfit for television because of the excessive empathy she shows towards her guests when she interviews them.

And yet, that’s what a Baltimore television producer told her when he told her that she would have to stop working as an evening news anchor. According to him, she was far too emotionally invested to succeed on television.

Oprah Winfrey was devastated. Nevertheless, the producer offered him a consolation prize, namely a daytime TV show: “People Are Talking”.

Using this failure to be even more motivated to succeed on television, Oprah Winfrey decided to take up the challenge and succeeded in a few years to become the undisputed queen of talk shows. His style filled with empathy and emotions has been successful and is even the basis of his immense success.

Albert Einstein Was Unable To Speak Until He Was 4 Years Old

I conclude this overview with the man who is considered as one of the greatest scientists in history: I have named Albert Einstein.

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Nowadays, when we talk about genius, knowledge or intelligence, we immediately think of Albert Einstein. Nevertheless, we must look at his childhood a little more deeply in order to understand that the genius we all respect today has also had a chaotic journey.

Albert Einstein was thus unable to speak until he was 4 years old!

When he started talking and started his school career, Albert Einstein quickly rose up against the authority of his teachers. They quickly called him a dazed student at best and at worst, a very bad person.

One of them even went so far as to say to the parents of young Albert:

“Your son will never achieve anything good in life.”

It must be said that the concept of the gifted was not very fashionable in his time… Nevertheless, Albert Einstein advanced despite the prophecies of his teachers to finally achieve great things from which humanity still benefits every day!


In this article, I focused on 5 examples of famous people who failed before experiencing phenomenal success. Just think that I could have taken many more. From Thomas Edison to Michael Bloomberg and JK Rowling, there are many examples.

The main goal was to make you realize that if you have never failed in life, it is because you are not looking to accomplish new things. And if you are in this situation, it is probably because you will not be able to achieve high goals.

You must therefore overcome your fear of failure and take action because all the greatest of this world have followed this path leading to success, provided that you show resilience and unfailing determination.

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Sylvain Saurel

Written by

Entrepreneur / Developer / Blogger / Author. In Bitcoin We Trust: https://www.inbitcoinwetrust.net

The Power of Knowledge

Knowledge is the key to getting better and better every day. The publication is aiming to provide you with stories on different topics to help your better understand the world: personal development, productivity, motivation, inspiration, money, finance, racism, women, …

Sylvain Saurel

Written by

Entrepreneur / Developer / Blogger / Author. In Bitcoin We Trust: https://www.inbitcoinwetrust.net

The Power of Knowledge

Knowledge is the key to getting better and better every day. The publication is aiming to provide you with stories on different topics to help your better understand the world: personal development, productivity, motivation, inspiration, money, finance, racism, women, …

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