10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You (2023)

Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived. In fact, if you have learned some of the famous familures to success stories, you may change your perspective on failure.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You

Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

1. J.K. Rowling

During a Harvardcommencementspeech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

“I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

Coming out ofthis failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

2. Steve Jobs

The now revolutionaryApplestarted off with two men in a garage.Years later we all know it asa$2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

Yet, almost unbelievably, SteveJobs was fired from the very company he began.

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(Video) 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories that will Inspire You to Carry on

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The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at Apple.Jobs said in 2005:

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

3. Bill Gates

Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a truefailure.[2]

However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software companyMicrosoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

In his own words:

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shinydegree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

If you haven’t found your passion like Bill Gates, this will help you: What Is Motivation And How To Get Motivated (Your Ultimate Guide)

4. Albert Einstein

The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligenceand synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity,Albert Einsteinhimself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led toexpulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to theZurich Polytechnic School.

His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in1921. After all, he believed that:

“Success is failure in progress.”

To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

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(Video) 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You | Best Motivational Speech 2022

Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

5. Abraham Lincoln

Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivationfor surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

In this great man’s words:

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

Lincolnwas elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

6. Michael Jordan

“I’ve missed more than 9000 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.”

This quote by retiredbasketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact,in his earlier years, basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

Michael Jordan’s success all came down to his Intrinsic Motivation, one of the most invincible types of motivation that drives people to succeed.

7. Steven Spielberg

Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakersof all time, Steven Spielbergis a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws andE.T. hadpoor grades in high school,gettinghim rejected fromthe University of Southern California three times.

(Video) 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You

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While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

“Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

8. Walt Disney

Mickey Mouse creatorWalt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow WhitetoFrozen,Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

The logic behind this is simple:

“We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

9. Vincent Van Gogh

During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately,one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

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He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

In the words of this great, but tragic man:

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

10. Stephen King

As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

“We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

Fail More Often in Order to Succeed

Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

If you feel like a failure and think that you’ve failed all too many times, it’s not too late to change things up! Here’s how to turn your limitations into your opportunities:

  • 13 Reasons Why You ShouldFailFast to Learn Fast
  • How toStart Overand Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late
  • 5 Steps toBounce BackFast When Life Knocks You Down

Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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(Video) 10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You


What are some successful failures? ›

They're perfect examples of why failure should never stop you from following your vision.
  • Arianna Huffington got rejected by 36 publishers. ...
  • Bill Gates watched his first company crumble. ...
  • George Steinbrenner bankrupted a team. ...
  • 4. Walt Disney was told he lacked creativity. ...
  • Steve Jobs was booted from his own company.
Dec 8, 2014

Who failed but became successful? ›

Thomas Edison

Edison may just hold the record for most failed attempts before reaching success on a single project, having failed several thousand times before inventing a functional light bulb. His response has become famous to entrepreneurs: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Who do you think has the most inspiring success stories? ›

1. Steve Jobs: Steve Jobs has been known as an iconic figure for the establishment of Apple like the biggest company. However, it is extremely shocking to know that the $2 billion company with over 4000 employees has been started with only two persons in a garage.

Who has the most inspiring story? ›

9 Famous People Whose Inspirational Stories Will Motivate You...
  • Oprah Winfrey. Noted as one of the most influential women in the world and a multi-billionaire, Oprah has certainly done well for herself. ...
  • Stephen King. ...
  • J.K. Rowling. ...
  • Bill Gates. ...
  • Bethany Hamilton. ...
  • Jim Carrey. ...
  • Vera Wang. ...
  • 8. Walt Disney.

What are three famous failures? ›

Albert Einstein had the label "mentally slow" put on his permanent school record. Henry Ford's first two automobile companies failed. Oprah Winfrey was fired from an early job as a television news anchor. Jerry Seinfeld was booed off stage in his first stand-up comedy appearance.

What is your greatest failure in life best answer? ›

I was responsible for interacting with big clients and understanding the requirements. Being a fresher, I did not pay much attention to the details of the project. Instead, I focused only on my ethics and discipline. My poor listening skills led me to lose one of the most significant projects of the organization.

Who failed 9999 times? ›

The famous story goes, Edison failed to refine the light bulb (one of the few creations he merely refined but did not invent) so many times it took him 10,000 attempts to perfect. However rather than accepting failure 9,999 times he is quoted as answering questions on his failures as rather: 'I have not failed.

Who failed 1000 times? ›


As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times.

Who tried 99 times and have failed? ›

Good morning, I have tried 99 times and have failed, but on the 100th time came success. - Albert Einstein #99times #Albe… Albert einstein, Einstein, Motivation.

Why is failure good for success? ›

Time moves, circumstances change, and goals shift. One benefit of failure is that it gives you a chance to reassess your goals and where you want to go. Whatever your goal, you are going to experience hurdles and set backs along the way.

What is a good success story? ›

A good success story uses evidence to show the value of programs. You can write a success story about a program, workshop or training opportunity that is particularly noteworthy and significant. It may be about how an employer worked with an employment program or about how a person gained personal employment.

What is your success story answer? ›

TELL A STORY: Describe an occasion of success or failure fully, explained what challenge was involved, how you responded, and the outcome of your actions. DETAIL LESSONS LEARNED: Explain how and what a challenging situation or project taught you and how it has contributed to improving your work skills.

What is the best story of all time? ›

  • The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
  • Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin.
  • The Dead by James Joyce.
  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.
  • Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway.
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver.
Jan 4, 2022

Can you tell me an inspirational story? ›

The Elephant Rope

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

Can you tell me some inspiring stories? ›

Here's a quick summary of the 10 best short inspirational stories:
  • Box Full of Kisses (Love)
  • Puppies for Sale (Understanding)
  • The Blind Girl (Change)
  • Control Your Temper (Anger)
  • The Butterfly (Struggles)
  • The Obstacle in Our Path (Opportunity)
  • A Pound of Butter (Honesty)
  • The Group of Frogs (Encouragement)
Aug 18, 2022

What was the biggest failure in your life? ›

Possible Answer #3

I was given significant time to wrap up the task. I split the work according to my deadline. When just 2 days were left, I shut down the system without saving my work. I quickly realized the mistake and restarted the work just to finish it in time.

Who failed 10000 times? ›

Later Edison became famous for saying “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.

Who failed many times? ›

#2 — Albert Einstein

In 1895, at the age of 16, he failed to pass the examination for entrance into the Swiss Federal Polytechnic school located in Zurich. And while he did graduate from university, he struggled and nearly dropped out, doing very poorly during the course of his studies there.

What is the biggest failure in your life as a student? ›

Lack of self-discipline

This is probably one of the biggest causes of failure for students. The ability to put “work before play” is often times what separates the A students from the B students. How do you solve this issue?

What do you write in biggest failure? ›

Talk about what you believe went wrong and caused the failure, what you would have done differently and what changes you made moving forward. For example, let's say your failure was the result of assuming what your customers wanted.

Whats a good example of a time you failed? ›

Example Answers to “Tell Me a Time When You Failed”

I was managing a project for one of our biggest clients in my previous company, and I was so eager to please them that I told them we could finish the project within 2 weeks. I thought this was doable, but it ended up taking three weeks and they were not happy.

Who said I didn't fail 1000 times? ›

Edison Quote: “I will not say I failed 1000 times, I will say that I discovered there are 1000 ways that can cause failure.” Thomas A. Edison Quote: “I will not say I failed 1000 times, I will say that I discovered there are 1000 ways that can cause failure.”

What to do if you failed in life? ›

9 Ways to Overcome Failures in Your Life
  1. Don't Feel Threatened By Failure. ...
  2. There is Nothing Wrong with Feeling Bad. ...
  3. Develop Healthy Habits to Stay Healthy. ...
  4. Avoid Picking Up Bad Habits. ...
  5. Take Reasonable Responsibility for Your Failure. ...
  6. Study Yourself. ...
  7. Keep Looking Ahead. ...
  8. Take Inspiration from Failures that Led to Success.

Is failure a part of life? ›

The sooner you realize failure will always be part of life, the sooner you will be able to learn from your mistakes, your missteps and your failures. When you fail, there are two things you can do: (1) Tweak and try to make it work. (2) Realize it is never going to work, and then move on to the next idea.

Who is a famous person who failed? ›

Albert Einstein

As a child he didn't start speaking until he was four, reading until he was seven, and was thought to be mentally handicapped. If he gave up and never persevered, his most important theories could not have been known. He went on to win a Nobel Prize and altered the world's approach to physics.

What famous people failed? ›

Some of the most prominent 'successful failures' that come to mind include:
  • WALT DISNEY. Did you know he was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas?” ...
  • JK ROWLING. ...
  • BILL GATES. ...
Apr 5, 2021

Who came up with fail fast? ›

Fail fast is championed by entrepreneur and author Eric Ries in his 2011 book, "The Lean Startup." Critics of the philosophy often acknowledge the validity of cutting losses early but point out that any philosophy with "failure" in the name should be avoided because the word has such an undesirable connotation.

How many times Einstein got failed? ›

It's how we learn. Even the brightest among us has failed - probably more than the rest of us. Einstein failed his drivers test 3 times - he couldn't parallel park.

Who said failure is the greatest teacher? ›

“The greatest teacher, failure is.” Yoda says this line to Luke, admonishing him for failing to keep his promise to pass on what he had learned. Luke had been focusing on teaching others about his success and mastery of the Force, but when faced with failure, he stopped teaching.

Did Einstein fail any grades? ›

There is no record of Einstein flunking or ever getting low marks in math. Albert Einstein was an all-around good student with exceptional grades in math and science, according to the biography written by Albrecht Folsing. The statement that Einstein was a poor student is pure myth.

What failure teaches you? ›

From failure, we learn resiliency. It's hard to not learn how to build resilience after a failure, especially if you're determined to overcome failure. Resilience is an important life skill to build. And when you build (and learn) resilience, it helps you in other ways, too.

What are examples of failures? ›

Remember: The best examples of failures allow you to tell a compelling story because you learned something and grew from the failure.
  • Not meeting others' expectations.
  • Missing a deadline.
  • Taking on too much/over-promising.
  • Failing an assignment.
  • Not getting a job.
  • Not getting into a club or making a team.
Jul 24, 2020

Can a failure become a successful person? ›

While failure's connotation is inherently negative, experiencing failure can actually be a positive point of growth. In fact, failure can be the key to success.

What are the 7 keys to success? ›

These are 7 qualities that we must have to achieve our goals. Commitment An open mind Persistence Flexibility Faith Thankfulness Passion Author has described these 7 qualities with examples of people around him who have applied these to their lives. It makes these principles more practical and acceptable.

What are the 5 key to success? ›

The feeling that you can do it.
  • attempting hard work independently.
  • sharing a new idea with the class.
  • taking a risk.

What are the 6 key to success? ›

The 6 Keys to Success as an Adult are:
  • Effectively Manage your Time.
  • Effectively Manage your Money.
  • Understand the Context of your situation.
  • Always have a Backup Plan.
  • Keep a Healthy Network of Friends.
  • Know when it's appropriate to say “No”
Dec 21, 2020

Whose story inspired you the most why? ›

My parents inspired me in my life they faced so many problems in life but they never give up and do hrad work for us. They are the only ones who always supported and motivates to achieve my goal. Comments: Sam : Super answer.

What is the best answer for success? ›

As a starting point, it's helpful to know that success is typically defined as reaching a goal or accomplishing something you've set out to achieve. It provides a source of motivation for people to change their lives and values.

What are the 7 stories in the world? ›

The 7 story archetypes are:
  • Overcoming the Monster.
  • Rags to Riches.
  • The Quest.
  • Voyage and Return.
  • Comedy.
  • Tragedy.
  • Rebirth.
Oct 31, 2011

What are the 5 basic stories? ›

Their results concluded that there were six basic story types:
  • “Rags to riches” (rise).
  • “Tragedy,” or “Riches to rags” (fall).
  • “Man in a hole” (fall–rise).
  • “Icarus” (rise–fall).
  • “Cinderella” (rise–fall–rise).
  • “Oedipus” (fall–rise–fall).

What are 10 motivational quotes? ›

100 Inspirational Quotes
  • "When you have a dream, you've got to grab it and never let go." ...
  • "Nothing is impossible. ...
  • "There is nothing impossible to they who will try." ...
  • "The bad news is time flies. ...
  • "Life has got all those twists and turns. ...
  • "Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you."
Oct 13, 2022

Which is best moral story? ›

1) The Golden Touch of Midas

He had a daughter, who he loved a lot. One day, Midas found an angel in need of help. He helped her and in return she agreed to grant a wish. On his way home, he touched rocks and plants and they turned into gold.

What is failure in a positive way? ›

It shows you where you shouldn't be. Failure is an opportunity. It's a chance to reevaluate and come back stronger with better reasoning. Failure is not fatal. No matter how hard it may be know that failure simply means you get another shot to try it all again.

What are the successes and failure? ›

Success and failure, however, are terms meant to define events, not people. You are either successful at doing something, or achieving some milestone, or you failed at doing something or did not achieve some milestone.

What's an example of a failure? ›

The accident was caused by a failure to use proper procedures. She was criticized for failure to follow directions. The drought caused crop failure. He felt like a failure when he wasn't accepted into law school.

What are the 8 benefits of failure? ›

Failure, and $10 million of Kraft Foods money, taught me the following lessons:
  • Failure builds character. When you fail, you develop a deeper understanding of your job and self. ...
  • Failure builds compassion. ...
  • Failure builds resilience. ...
  • Failure builds creativity. ...
  • Fear of failure is even worse than failure itself.
Nov 20, 2017

How failure is the key to success? ›

Failure gives us the opportunity to bounce back, to learn from our mistakes, and helps us appreciate success. Failure can be frightening, however, as Winston Churchill reminded us, "success is all about going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm".

Can failure make you strong? ›

Failing at something forces us to acknowledge where we have room to improve. This can make us stronger and more resilient as we advance one step closer to success. Failure is a only a pit stop. With perseverance, you will make it across the finish line.

What are the 2 types of failure? ›

Think of it this way: There are two kinds of failure. The first comes from never trying out your ideas because you are afraid, or because you are waiting for the perfect time. This kind of failure you can never learn from, and such timidity will destroy you. The second kind comes from a bold and venturesome spirit.

How have your failures shaped your life? ›

Failure teaches us about love, relationships, money, business, and people. Failure sets the stage for us to reach our goals. We can use failure as a teaching tool to improve skills like problem-solving, leadership, communication, decision making, learning, and so on.

What are common failures in life? ›

Here are some common examples of failures:
  • Receiving poor or failing test grades.
  • Not getting accepted into a degree or certification program.
  • Interviewing for a position but not securing a job offer.
  • Getting a bad performance review.
  • Missing a deadline.
  • Not making a team.
  • Losing a client, sale, project or money.
Aug 11, 2021

What is failure as a student? ›

Failure can be an unpleasant and unwanted experience. It can come in different forms - not achieving the academic grades you hoped for, being unsuccessful in a job application, a relationship breakdown, or a general setback.

What is a good failure? ›

This is what characterizes good failure. When failure allows you to get feedback and use that feedback to drive your next decisions, then it's considered good failure. While your desired outcome was not achieved, you were able to determine how you can better work your way towards achieving it.


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