Many people believe there is a formula for success, however most success stories begin with tales of adversity and failure. Some of the world’s most successful people have attributed their success to the hard times they’ve endured in the past.


Jay-Z came from a rough Brooklyn neighbourhood and had dreams to make it big as a rapper. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get one record label to sign him. Yet that didn’t stop him from creating his own music powerhouse Roc-A-Fella Records. Forbes has since estimated his net worth at $500 million, and TIME ranked him as one of their 2013 Most Influential People In The World… And he’s married to Beyoncé.


At 15, Jim Carrey had to drop out of school and get a job as a janitor to support his family. His father was an unemployed musician and as the family went from “lower middle class to poor,” they eventually had to start living in a van. Carrey often talks about how he used the Law of Attraction by writing himself a check for $10,000,000 for “Acting Services Rendered.” He later placed the check in his wallet and it stayed there for 7 years until he received a $10 million dollar payment for his work in Dumb and Dumber.


Walt Disney, the man who gave us Disney World and Mickey Mouse, first animation company went bankrupt. He was fired by a news editor because he ‘lacked imagination’. Legend has it that he was turned down 302 times before he got financing to create Disney World.


J.K. Rowling was penniless, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own when she wrote the first Harry Potter book on an old manual typewriter. Twelve publishers rejected the manuscript.A year later she was given the green light by Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, who agreed to publish the book but insisted she get a day job ‘because there was no money in children’s books’. She became the first billionaire author in 2004, and is now richer than the Queen of England.


Lady Gaga was dropped by her record label, Island Def Jam, after 3 months. Upon receiving the news, she ‘cried so hard she couldn’t talk.’ But in 2008, Gaga’s then-boyfriend Rob Fusari brought Gaga to Interscope records as a songwriter, where she composed hits for New Kids on the Block, Fergie, the Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears. While singing a reference vocal for a song she had written, Gaga caught the ear of R&B songwriter Akon and he signed Gaga to his own label.


The founder of KFC, Colonel Sanders, started his dream at 65 years old after a new interstate highway diverted traffic away from his restaurant leaving him practically broke with a social security check for $105. Instead of complaining he did something about it. Armed with and his fried chicken recipe and franchise idea, he drove around the country knocking on doors, whilst sleeping in his car. Do you know how many times people said no till he got one yes? 1009 times.


Oprah Winfrey grew up in Milwaukee and was repeatedly molested by her cousin, uncle and a family friend. She eventually ran away from home, and at age 14 gave birth to a baby boy who shortly died after. Instead of dwelling on her past, she went on to excel as an honours student in high school, and won an oratory contest which secured her a full scholarship to college. Years later, Oprah was publicly fired from her first television job as an anchor in Baltimore for getting ‘too emotionally invested in her stories.’ Nevertheless, the talk show host persevered and now has the admiration of millions and a net worth of $2.9 billion.


Jack Canfield was rejected 144 times before he found a publisher for his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul. When Jack told the publisher he wanted to sell 1.5 million books in the first 18 months, the publisher laughed and said he’d be lucky to sell 20,000. That first book sold more than 8 million copies in America and 10 million copies around the world.


When Charlize Theron was 15, she witnessed her mother shoot her alcoholic father in an act of self-defense. Instead of letting the trauma immobilize her ambition, Theron channeled her energy into making a name for herself. She would eventually become one of the most respected and talented actresses, becoming the first South African actress to win an Academy Award.


Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series said the inspiration from the book came from a dream. She finished it in three months and never intended to publish it until a friend suggested she should. She wrote 15 letters to literary agencies – Five didn’t reply and Nine rejected. One gave her a chance. Then eight publishers auctioned for the right to publishTwilight. She got a three book deal worth $750,000. In 2010, Forbes reported she earned $40 million.


As a sophomore, Michael Jordan was rejected from his high school’s varsity basketball team. But now, he is literally the most famous basketball player of all time. He has been quoted as saying “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.”


Steve Jobs was actually fired from Apple Computers, the very company that he is responsible for making it the success it is today. When Jobs was fired from Apple, he was quoted stating “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. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”


Stephen King grew so frustrated over his attempt to write the novel ‘Carrie’ that he threw away the entire early draft. King’s wife Tabitha found the manuscript in the trash and took it out. ‘Carrie’ became a hit and launched his career. His novels have since sold over 350 million copies.

Leave a Reply