Ever since the dark ages and way before that, people have always had this burning desire to succeed. There’s been a struggle to stand out from the crowd, to be the alpha, to outdo the competition.

Human beings have been devising means and ways to make their lives better, more bearable, and comfortable. With advancements in language, knowledge, and technology we’ve been able to do amazing things. Survival is engraved in our DNA, it is the very fabric of our existence.

Throughout history, man has had failures alongside success.

The ability to always stand after failing repeatedly is what draws us closer to success. There are lessons to be learned from failure, it makes us better. You can achieve greatness in whatever capacity you’re seeking.

Talking about success is not meaningful without having some examples to emulate. We learn from people who have faced failure and lived to tell an entirely different tale. A tale of success.

People who were absolutely nobody but who never gave up and became living icons. We’ll cover stories of ten people who started from nothing but rose to be the best at what they do.


If this isn’t the greatest story of persistence, then I don’t know what is. From losing eight elections, failing twice in business, and almost suffering a nervous breakdown, Abraham Lincoln never gave up, and he became the 16th President of the United States of America.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 to Nancy and Thomas Lincoln in a one-room cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky.

He taught himself law and passed the bar exam in 1836.

He was a very staunch advocate of the abolition of slavery. Even though he was unpopular because of his political stance against the Mexican-American war, the Republicans chose him as their preferred presidential candidate and he did not disappoint, he was inaugurated in March 1861 as the 16th president of United States of America.

On April 4, 1865 he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a confederate sympathizer. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nothing valuable can be lost by taking the time.” True to his words, that’s the life he lived.


You’re probably reading this article on an iPhone or your MacBook, and you may or may not have a clue as to the story behind your electronic gadgets. The bite of the Apple logo is a bite connected to the success of Steve Jobs. He was an iconic billionaire, inventor, and entrepreneur.

Born in 1955, Job’s life wasn’t as rosy. He always felt unwanted, put up for adoption by his mother, and raised by a blue-collar couple in Palo Alto, California.

He dropped out of college and took courses that were more appealing to him instead of completing his university degree.

He co-founded Apple in 1976 with his friend Steve Wozniak. At the height of its success, Steve Jobs resigned from Apple after a fall out with John Scully, whom he had hired as a marketer from Pepsi.

With Steve out of the picture, Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy, but NeXT founded by Jobs was thriving. NeXT was gained by Apple in 1997, bringing him back into the fold of a new struggling company.

The Think Different commercial narrated by Steve Jobs best describes his philosophy. You can check out the commercial here


Born in 1962, Jim Carrey is a renowned comedian, actor, and entrepreneur. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. His family had severe financial problems that forced them to all work at the Titan Wheels Factory.

Jim Carrey worked 8-hour shifts as a janitor. They lived in a VW Camper Van after leaving their factory jobs until they could afford enough to move to a decent house.

He dropped out of high school to pursue his passion for acting. In 1979 at 17 years he moved to Los Angeles and found his way into a regular stand up gig at the comedy store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

After a 5 year failed marriage, Carrey threw himself into acting roles. In 1990, after 11 years of trying to pursue his dreams, he got his break to appear on a show called, in living color.

He got his big break in 1994 after getting a role to star in the film Ace Ventura. The rest as they say is history.


Now this is what I consider a story of resilience. A story of someone that never gave up on their dream despite the many obstacles that life threw at him.

Born in 1954, Chris Gardner had a very rough upbringing, his father was ever absent, his mother and siblings suffered abuse at the hands of his stepfather. He was always in and out of foster homes.

In 1977, Gardener married Sherry Dyson. He left her after a 3-month affair with another woman who became pregnant with his child. His son was born in 1981, he used to sell medical equipment to support his family.

His business was suffering a great deal, but he remained committed to living a better life one day. His life changed when he met a man driving a red Ferrari who led him on a career path to becoming a stockbroker.

He did not have it easy though, his journey was marred with struggle. He suffered an eviction notice, was homeless, got divorced, went to jail before reaching the ACME of success.

He documented his success story in his biography, “The Pursuit of Happyness.” It was adapted into a movie in which will smith starred as Chris Gardner.

Chris gardener once said, “You got a dream… You got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.”


Popularly referred to as the Queen of Pop, Madonna is an American Pop culture Icon. She was born in 1958 in Michigan, her father was an engineer in the automotive industry.

She lost her mother to breast cancer at the age of 5 years, which impacted her life. She dropped out of university in 1978 to pursue her dreams of being a professional dancer.

She took a job at Dunkin doughnuts to support herself. She was fired for squirting jelly accidentally on a customer. She took on random jobs whenever she could thereafter.

She pushed on and landed small parts singing and performing with bands such as The Breakfast Club. She got her big break in 1982 at 24 years after debuting her single Everybody followed by Burning up which both became huge club hits.

She released her self-titled album Madonna and has since then become an icon.


Behind all the glam, lights, camera, and action is a gut-wrenching story of persistence, resilience, and determination all packed in Oprah Winfrey.

She was born in 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi to a single teenage mother. She lived in abject poverty under the care of her grandmother. In her early years, Oprah was sexually molested by her cousin, uncle, and a family friend.

At 13 years she ran away from home, became pregnant at the age of 14, and gave birth prematurely to a baby that died shortly after birth. She won a beauty pageant at 17 years and became a news anchor in Nashville after College.

In 1983 at 29 she relocated to Chicago and took over a fledgling show called AM Chicago which would ultimately become The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Today she is a multi-billionaire and has impacted the world in major ways.


Born in 1984 in Santa Barbara California, Katy’s family faced severe struggles. They had to survive on food stamps just to get by. In 1999, she dropped out of high school to pursue music full time.

Her big break came in 2007 when she signed with Capitol Records. She released the hit song I kissed a girl in 2008 when she was 24 years old. It took her nine years to achieve the success she had envisioned.


Born in 1950, Richard is an English Billionaire, Entrepreneur, and Business Mogul.

In the late ’60s, Branson started the student magazine where he interviewed prominent people. He also sold records through the magazine at discounted rates. He opened a record shop in 1971.

By 1992, at 42 years of age, he created Virgin Atlantic and the Virgin Megastore. To keep the airline afloat, he was pressured into selling the record label or have to suffer a major financial failure and loss in the airline industry.

He sold the label to EMI for 500 million sterling pounds and was distraught after this because the record business was his first Love into the business world. The airline Virgin Atlantic became a sensational success.


If there’s one person who believed in his dream was Walt Disney. He was fired on grounds of a lack of imagination in 1919 while working at a local newspaper, Kansas City Star. He was not demoralized and started a multi-billion company.

He had previously started a company called Laugh-O-Gram producing cartoon animations. His biggest client then was Newman’s theaters. In 1923, his company declared bankruptcy.

It was after moving to Hollywood to stay with his brother they founded the Disney Brothers Studio, which would later become the Walt Disney Company.

Disney created Mickey Mouse in 1928, and things took a turn for the best from thereon.


Born in 1946, Sylvester Stallone is an American actor and director best known for his role as Rocky Balboa in the hit boxing film, Rocky.

He moved to New York in the 1920s to pursue his dream of being an actor. He always faced rejection due to the way he walked and talked. He was so broke that at one point in his life he had to sell his dog for 25 dollars to pay up his electricity bill. He worked many jobs just to make ends meet. He cleaned cages at a zoo, ushered at a movie theater, and even appeared in an adult film.

After writing the script for Rocky, he was offered a tremendous amount of money with one caveat-that he does not star in the film. He refused time and again but eventually accepted an offer of 35,000 dollars and a percentage of the film’s sales. The film grossed over 200 million dollars in the box office.


The best way an impact is made from anything is having a lesson to learn. Having something to look back at and emulate. The stories of these famous failures to success stories have and will mold many people to become the best versions of themselves.

Some lessons I have learned from these success stories are:-

You don’t need a formal education to succeed

Most of the success stories we’ve read or heard of are of people who dropped out of school. This does not mean that education is not important, but not synonymous with success.

You need to be persistent

For you to become successful you need to be persistent with your dream. You need to withstand any obstacles that come your way and pick yourself up whenever you fall.

You need to believe in yourself

For any success, however small, it all begins with the right mindset. how much do you believe in yourself and your dream? Have a goal and pursue it to the very end.

You need to keep off the naysayers

On your way to success, not everyone will believe in you. You’ll have people who will want to discourage you and tell you how much you can’t and won’t make it. Develop a thick skin and to keep such negativity at bay.

You need to be consistent

By doing something repeatedly, we become good at it, we get a better understanding of it. The more we want something and strive at being the best at it, the more the stars align in our favor.

In most success stories, the people involved did not stop doing what they loved most. They found innovative ways to rebuild whenever they hit a brick wall.

Find your purpose

There are times we find ourselves lost and disoriented, times we feel like we were not meant to exist at all. By asking ourselves the right questions, we’ll always be on the right track to success.

We need to ask ourselves, what do we want? why do we want it? how can we get it? finding answers to these questions can greatly help us in defining our purpose.

Stop Procrastinating

Time is a very crucial aspect of getting anything done. By assigning tasks to some level of importance, you get more done. Don’t engage in idle tasks.

Be mindful of other people

We cannot fully achieve success by ourselves. We need people to hold us and lead us by the hand so we can achieve massive success. We need not burn any bridges on our journey to success, especially if we’re aspiring to become entrepreneurs.

Push yourself

There’s no limit or measure to success. Most successful people push themselves to do more. They spend more time working on their dreams and are never satisfied with just enough.

They’ll go beyond their schedules just to achieve some desired results and they’ll always strive to be better every time.

You need not be a workaholic. A few extra hours each week will do the trick. The beauty of pushing yourself is the fact that should you fail you’ll still feel like a success since you’ll have put in your best.


  • Life is full of challenges and obstacles that we need to overcome. On our journey to success we’ll encounter failure. What will make us or break us is how we react to failure. We can pick ourselves up or remain on our knees immobile.
  • There is no right or wrong time to achieve success. We all have different situations and factors that make us succeed when we do. We should not view success as a competition. It might take me two years to reach a level I feel I have succeeded while it may take you ten years to achieve success, either way we’ll have both achieved success.
  • How big do you dream? how often? The moment you have a dream always make it your goal to achieve it. I believe that a little sleep, a little slumber will veer you off in the wrong direction, away from your dream. Wake up and smell the coffee it’s time to achieve your dream.
  • You don’t always have to get it all figured out, having a rough idea of what you envision as success is all it takes to propel you in the right direction. You don’t need a degree or the best education to figure out what success is to you. You just need to have a well-defined purpose.
  • You need to invest in yourself. This is critical in achieving success. You need to picture yourself as an investment, you need to be mindful of your health, your skillset, and knowledge-base. Find mentors with similar interests, enroll in short courses or programs that can prove beneficial to your success. Do not be afraid to seek help when you get stuck.
  • Work without play makes jack a dull boy. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You need enough ‘me’ time to succeed. You need to unwind and get yourself distracted a little so you can reset your mind. Spend time with family and friends, find a hobby, be yourself.
  • Success is not genetically passed on from one person to another. It’s a reward that individuals give themselves after years and years of preparation and hard work. Success is not measured in monetary value, success can be intangible too. It can be a milestone at work or at home. It can be a smile, a spouse, or a child.
  • From whichever angle we view success, we need to look at people before us who have failed the most and learn from their mistakes. Some may have failed and stayed stuck on the ground, but some rose beyond the obstacles and like a Phenix achieved much. It is they that we should strive to emulate.
  • There’ll be lessons we can learn from people before us, lessons that can make or break us. We need the wisdom to discern which lessons to hold on to and which lessons to shun. Situations are different for everyone, but one thing remains for sure- we are all meant to do more than just survive. We are meant to thrive.
  • I hope that the stories you’ve read about today inspire you to become a better person, a success. Today, if you’ve suffered through failures in the past, or you’re going through a mammoth of failure know this — failure will make you better. Failure will improve your life. Failure will allow you to reach new understandings and insights on life, love, business, and the people all around you.
  • There’ll always be stories about failure, there’ll always be stories about success. They are being written as we speak. It all boils down to taking action and we are all able to write our very own success stories. Do you not want to be talked about or written about in books? do you not wish that one day your story would become so inspirational that a movie about you is scripted, cast, and hits the box office? You can and you will if only you believe in yourself. Take a step today and write your purpose. Work towards achieving your purpose and if the need arises look for a mentor to hold you by the hand and lead you on.
10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

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