Not everyone who’s on top today got there with success after success. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others.
Next time you’re feeling down about your failures in college or in a career, keep these fifty famous people in mind and remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success.
Successful Business Guru’s and Scientists / Thinkers who failed at First!
Business Gurus: These businessmen and the companies they founded are today known around the world, but as these stories show, their beginnings weren't always smooth.
Henry Ford: While Ford is today known for his innovative assembly line and American-made cars, he wasn't an instant success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left himself broken five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.
Soichiro Honda: The billion-dollar business that is Honda began with a series of failures and fortunate turns of luck. Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job after interviewing for a job as an engineer, leaving him jobless for quite some time. He started making scooters of his own at home, and spurred on by his neighbours, finally started his own business.
Akio Morita: You may not have heard of Morita but you've undoubtedly heard of his company, Sony. Sony’s first product was a rice cooker that unfortunately didn't cook rice so much as burnt it, selling less than 100 units. This first setback didn't stop Morita and his partners as they pushed forward to create a multi-billion dollar company.
Bill Gates: Gates didn't seem like a shoe-in for success after dropping out of Harvard and starting a failed first business with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen called Traf-O-Data. While this early idea didn't work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.
Walt Disney: Today Disney rakes in billions from merchandise, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. He was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn't last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure. He kept plugging along, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.
Scientists and Thinkers: These people are often regarded as some of the greatest minds of our century, but they often had to face great obstacles, the ridicule of their peers and the animosity of society.
Albert Einstein: Most of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn't always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.
Charles Darwin: In his early years, Darwin gave up on having a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.” Perhaps they judged too soon, as Darwin today is well-known for his scientific studies.
Isaac Newton: Newton was undoubtedly a genius when it came to maths, but he had some failings early on. He never did particularly well in school and when put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably, so poorly in fact that an uncle took charge and sent him off to Cambridge where he finally blossomed into the scholar we know today.
Socrates: Despite leaving no written records behind, Socrates is regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of the Classical era. Because of his new ideas, in his own time he was called “an immoral corrupter of youth” and was sentenced to death. Socrates didn't let this stop him and kept right on, teaching up until he was forced to poison himself.
Robert Sternberg: This big name in psychology received a C in his first college introductory psychology class with his teacher telling him that, “there was already a famous Sternberg in psychology and it was obvious there would not be another.” Sternberg showed him, however, graduating from Stanford with exceptional distinction in psychology, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa and eventually becoming the President of the American Psychological Association.