Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
Sometimes we forget that all the famous success stories we hear started with failure. All of them.
Oprah had a challenging beginning. She was born to a young, single, low-income mom and was sexually abused as a child. When she grew up and finally got hired by a local TV station, she was fired for being “unfit for television.” Then came the day that she took a job on a Chicago morning show that was last place in the ratings. Soon that show had risen to first place, beating out the popular Donahue, and the rest is history.
J.K. Rowling was a broke, jobless, single mom pushing her baby carriage into coffee shops where she would sit for a while and write the story in her head which was called Harry Potter. Twelve publishers rejected it before Bloomsbury, a small shop, printed 1000 copies, 500 of which were for libraries. Today, more than 450 million copies of her story have been sold.
Henry Ford’s first two businesses went bankrupt before he sold 17 million Model T Fords.
Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times when trying to create the light bulb. Before figuring it out, a reporter asked if he felt like a failure and Edison said, “Why would I feel like a failure? I now know 9,000 ways an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” We all know what happened next.
And the list goes on. Michael Jordan was cut from his grade nine basketball team. Disney was fired from a job for having no imagination. Dr. Seuss got 43 rejections for his first story. Barack Obama couldn’t get a ticket to the 2000 Democratic Convention, he was the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention and he became president in 2008.
We know these stories. And these people are no different from us. The one thing they all have in common is perseverance through failure. Learning from it and moving on. Never giving up.
Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
Are we willing to fail and try again? And again? If so, success is almost in our grasp.