Famous Failures: 10 Failure Stories That Will Inspire You

Often we easily get upset with failures not realizing the fact that they bring with it new possibilities for learning and betterment. In fact, failing is perfectly acceptable as long as you don’t quit. Each time you fail it’ll be better than the previous attempt. Most famous personalities who made history have failed numerous times before tasting success.

In life, failure is just as important as success. Only if you have failed, you’ll know the value of success. Furthermore, failure is not a step backwards; it’s an excellent stepping stone to success.

Ever triedEver failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better”

Samuel Beckett

This list of 11 famous failures is about people who found their way to success and will inspire you to keep going when the going get’s tough. History shows us that “Never Give Up” was the only mantra they kept reciting. Next time when you feel down, just consider thinking about them.

1.Thomas Edison

Edison was good at failing, several of his pet projects never really took off. Please don’t get me wrong.

It’s been said that while inventing the electric bulb, Edison has failed more than 1000 times, but he never quit

He still invented the light bulb. Not only the bulb but also numerous other creations. Edison had 1093 patents and started one of the biggest conglomerates in the world, GE General Electric.

Aside from being an inventor, Edison also managed to become a successful manufacturer and businessman, marketing his inventions to the public. He goes down in history as one of the most brilliant inventors ever lived.

2. Abraham Lincoln

If you want to learn about someone who had a never give up attitude, look no further. Abraham Lincoln may be the greatest example of persistence.

Born in a very poor family, Lincoln struggled throughout his life. He lost his mother and siblings to milk sickness at a very young age.

One of the greatest president in American history was self-schooled and never attended college.

His struggle didn’t end there. He lost 8 times in elections, failed twice in business and even had a mental breakdown following the death of his sweetheart after they were engaged. But, quitting was never an option for Lincoln.

In 1860, Abraham became the president of the United States when the country was going through a grave crisis. The man led the country through the rough times and abolished slavery which plagued the country for more than 200 years.

3. Jack Ma

Famous failures Jack Ma image

A true rags-to-riches story and definitely a one which will inspire you even in your darkest days. Next on our list of most famous failures is Jack Ma. Ma was born into poverty.

He wanted to learn English so badly that when he was 13. He would wake up at 5 a.m and would ride his bike 45 minutes to a star hotel where he would give free guides to tourists.

Ma failed the entrance exam of Teacher’s Institute twice and got accepted the third time. He applied for study at Harvard 10 times and was rejected each time. Furthermore, he was rejected several times while finding a job because he looks “odd”.

Jack Ma said that he applied for Job in KFC, where 24 people went for the job interview. Twenty-three were accepted he was the only guy who got rejected. His first company, China Yellow Page was a failure. But rejections never made Ma feeling dejected, he kept on trying.

He first saw the internet in 1995 in America that changed his life. On his return to China with a rejuvenated thirst for success, he started Alibaba at the age of 35. Without even writing a single piece of code, Ma made Alibaba a global phenomenon. Now, Jack Ma is the richest man in China with a net worth more than $48 billion.

4. Amitabh Bachchan

famous failures Amitabh Bachchan

Every famous failures have their uniqueness. The ‘Big B’ of Bollywood before having all the luxuries of life too had a period of struggle.

Amitabh was rejected due to his voice and height. His baritone voice, striking face and commanding height made him rejected in All India Radio Station and earlier film auditions.

Bachchan faced near-death experience, bankruptcy, career struggle, rejection, and emotional breakdown at various stages of life. He suffered fatal injuries in one of his movie Coolie.

Amitabh was being bankrupt after several years of consecutive box office failure, he even thought of leaving the film industry. Now approaching 80 years of age, Bachchan has already won 4 national awards and numerous other accolades.

5. Walt Disney

Famous failures Walt Disney

Well, there is no shortage of rags to riches stories in this section, Walt Disney is another addition to that.

Can you believe when Disney was only 22 years old he was fired from his job at a newspaper?. The editor said he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Born to a very poor family, 2 of his older brothers ran away when he was just 4 due to lack of enough food.

At 16 years he faked his age to join the army but was turned down. After which, he was introduced to the world of motion pictures by his neighbour without them he would have never gotten into movies. Laugh-O-Gram, the first studio he started went bankrupt.

He lost the rights of his most popular character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit shortly after moving to his new California studio. It was only after all these failures, Disney started working on Mickey Mouse. The rest is history.

6. J.K. Rowling

Famous Failures J k Rowling

From the brink of committing suicide to be a renowned author, the life of J.K Rowling is truly inspirational. At the age of 26 her mother died, it truly devastated her and she found solace only in writing.

Fed up of the secretary Job, she moved to Portugal to work as an English teacher where she got married. She had a miscarriage in 1992 and a year later the couple got separated.

After returning to England as a single mom, they lived on government welfare without being able to secure a job. Without much money and not being able to take good care of her daughter made Rowling depressed and even considered suicide.

The first Harry Potter book she completed in 1995 was rejected by many publishers. Later, a small scale London publisher accepted to print the book. But, she couldn’t use her own name because the publisher thought boys may not want to read books written by a woman

Harry Potter was an instant hit after being published and she became the first person to earn a billion dollars through writing. She turned the wizard boy into an entertainment franchise with books, movies, plays, theme park and much more. One of the most inspiring famous failures right?

7. Steve Jobs

Ever got fired from a company you founded? Well, the next person on our list of famous failures got fired from the company he founded.

Steve Jobs was given up for adoption by his biological parents. When he was a kid he showed interest in electronics which eventually led to the inception of Apple in 1976 with his friend in the family garage.

The management fired Steve from Apple in 1985 after a clash with him. During this period Steve started two new ventures the Pixar animation studio and NeXT computers both of which became billion dollar companies. While during this time Apple crashed registering record loss in several financial years.

Steve Jobs once said, taking LSD as “one of the two or three most important things” he had done in his life.

Later in 1997, Jobs returned as the CEO of Apple. His salary was $1 during his second tenure and he guided Apple to soaring heights. Today, Apple is one of the most valuable brands in the world worth more than $300 billion.

8. Spielberg

The year is 1964, a young guy with a passion for cinema was waiting to write the entrance exam for the prestigious University of Southern California. Unfortunately, he couldn’t clear the exam that day.

He never gave up, he tried again the following year but failed again. He waited another year and tried once more. Alas! the same result.

Years later, in 1994 he was awarded an honorary degree and became a trustee of the same university in 1996. The guy’s name is Steven Allan Spielberg and he became a course material in numerous Universities across the globe.

Spielberg who suffered from dyslexia (a learning disorder) at a young age went on to become the most influential name in world cinema. His movies like Jaws, Jurassic Park, ET rocked the box office charts and he himself won 5 Oscars.

9. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristian Ronaldo, the guy requires no introduction. Now, he is one of the most successful men on the planet. But, when he was 14, Ronaldo was expelled from his school in Portugal after launching a chair at a teacher.

The teacher was apparently making fun of his Portuguese accent, and the wealth of his family.

Ronaldo was even been told by the teacher that he won’t reach anywhere with football. I think we all know how that story ended.

He was just 14 when his father became an alcoholic. At the same time, his brother struggled with addiction too. His career would’ve ended even before it started. At 15, Ronaldo was diagnosed with a severe heart condition, (racing heart) and he underwent laser surgery to rectify the problem. 

Years forward, Ronaldo is now considered as one of the greatest sportspeople of all time. In 2020 he became the first athlete to amaze wealth of $1 billion.

10. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Gail Winfrey was born on January 29, 1954, in Kosciusko, Mississippi to a single mother. After her parents’ separation, she was sent to her grandparents, to live in extreme poverty.

Oprah had a difficult childhood and often had to dress in potato sacks for which she was mocked at school.

Oprah was sexually abused several times at an early age even by family members. She gave birth at the age of 14 to a boy who died shortly after.

She was rejected multiple times by several television shows. At the time of pervasive racism, it had seemed impossible for a black woman to get to the top position in the USA’s television industry.

But against all odds, Oprah was selected to host ‘AM Chicago’, an early morning talk show, which instantly became the most watched show in America. Later, it was renamed as ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. Today Oprah is the richest black women in top 400 list by Forbes

That was our list of most famous failures – Inspiring stories. We hope you find inspiration from the stories of the list the most famous failures and will guide you to the path of success.

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