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The Greatest of Failures Could Not Stop These 10 Big Names

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America is a great place to fail.

As a culture, we understand that no failure is final, and defeat can set the stage for success.  As individuals, we are remarkably resilient, able to get up off the canvas and back into the fight even after getting pummeled mercilessly. just published a list of 10 Americans who rose to absolute dominance in their fields after repeated failures and rejections.  Keep it handy for when you need a little extra motivation.



Benjamin Franklin — He was a successful businessman, author, inventor and founding father – despite dropping out of school at 10-years-old because his family was broke.  His answer to that obstacle: voracious reading and self-learning, habits that lasted a lifetime.Oprah


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Stephen King – His first novel was rejected 30 times. King was so despondent that he threw away the manuscript.  Fortunately, his wife rescued it and convinced King to keep working on… Carrie.   King has since sold upward of 350 million books.



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Oprah Winfrey – She lost a baby at 14 and was repeatedly molested by male family members.  Today she’s worth $2.9 billion.  I’m sorry – what’s holding you back?



Thomas Edison – He was so successful it’s easy to forget how much failure and frustration he endured on the way to creating stuff like the electric light bulb and phonograph.  Love his classic quote:  “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”



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Michael Jordan — As a kid, Jordan was repeatedly written off as too short for basketball.  The rejection fueled a white-hot passion to rule the court.



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Walt Disney — He was fired by a newspaper for lack of creativity and was told Mickey Mouse would scare women.  Undaunted, Disney stayed true to his vision and passion to build one of the most valuable brands on Earth.


Kris Carr

Kris Carr – When Carr was struck with a rare cancer she resolved not only to fight it with a nutritional lifestyle, but to share her system with others via digital media.  Today, she is considered a leading expert on healthy living.


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Milton Hershey – The veteran candy factory worker struck out on his own and failed horribly.  Not once.  Not twice.  Three times.  Hershey’s answer: He returned to the family dairy farm and devoted every waking hour to perfecting his recipe and technique.  The rest is sweet, milk chocolaty history.


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Dr. Seuss —  Theodore Giesel, aka Dr. Seuss, endured 27 rejections before he ran into an old friend who had just been named children’s literature editor at a major publisher.   His buddy agreed to publish And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, launching arguably the greatest career in children’s literature.  Luck?  Sure.  But if Giesel had given up after five or ten rejections, we wouldn’t know the Cat in the Hat or The Grinch.


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Albert Einstein — He didn’t talk until he was four-years-old.  His elementary school teachers thought he was a weirdo and slow because he asked very abstract questions that others could not understand.

Every one of these stories offers a slightly different lesson.  But taken together they remind us of the importance of perseverance, of having that important trait that used to be called “stick-to-it-tive-ness.”


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