Henry David Thoreau once said, “Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.”
From the pits of failure to the thrill of the win, some of the most successful people in the world have seen both opposite sides of the spectrum. These 12 people prove that talent really does matter, but the dedication to see it through is the key ingredient to true success.
12. Michael Jordan
Basketball legend. Baseball star. It’s hard to believe that not every ball that Michael Jordan touches turns to gold. But before Michael Jordan was number 23, he was cut from his high school basketball team. He reports that he went straight home and cried in his bedroom. But, the tears weren’t long-lived, since we all know how things turned out for him.
11. Harrison Ford
He was Han Solo. He was Indiana Jones. But if the actor, who little boys have looked up to for generations, had listened to his naysayers, those roles would have gone to someone else entirely. After Harrison Ford’s first role, an executive from the industry took Ford into his office and told him that he would never succeed in the movie business. Luckily for everyone, he didn’t listen and he is now estimated to be worth an astounding $210 million.
You might think with a name like “The King,” Elvis Presley’s life was paved with nonstop success and fried peanut butter sandwiches. But that wasn’t always the case. After his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry in 1954, the then no-name entertainer was fired by the venue’s manager who told Elvis, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to be drivin’ a truck.”
He never did take up truck driving and instead, Elvis Presley went on to become the second best-selling recording artist of all time. At the time of his death, he was worth $10 million. Today, Presley’s net worth is estimated at $300 million.
9. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey’s road to queen of daytime television wasn’t an easy one, by any stretch of the imagination. When she was 22 years old, Winfrey was fired from her job as a television anchor, after her boss told her that she was “unfit for TV.” Years later, she moved to Chicago where her now-famous daytime talk show was picked up, where she dominated the ratings for decades, before going on to build her own media empire. She is now worth an estimated $2.9 billion.
8. Sir James Dyson
When it comes to sheer dedication, there is possibly no one who can top James Dyson, creator of the now-famous, bag-less Dyson vacuums. While he was developing his product, Dyson created 5,126 failed prototypes and blew through his savings, over a fifteen year period. But, Dyson believed in his vision so strongly, that he didn’t let that deter him. His 5,127th prototype worked and the rest is vacuum history. Sir James Dyson was able to replenish his savings account and then some, as he is now worth a reported $2.7 billion.
7. Dr. Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel is one of the most well-known and highly-acclaimed children’s authors ever. But before he earned that crown, the whacky author, known better as Dr. Seuss, definitely paid his dues after seeing his first book rejected by 27 different publishers. Proving that dedication is often half of the battle, Dr. Seuss’ books have sold over 600 million copies.
6. Steve Jobs
The founder and mastermind behind Apple Computers is proof that being one of the greatest minds of a generation sometimes isn’t even good enough. He dropped out of college to pursue his visions for the world of computers, only to be removed of his position by the same people who sat right beside him. But Apple could not succeed without him and years later, they begged him to return. He went on to revolutionize the face of technology with the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, along with a wide variety of computer models. At the time of his death, Steve Jobs was reportedly worth $10.2 billion.
5. Albert Einstein
World-class genius and arguably one of the most brilliant minds in history, is notorious for getting less-than-favorable grades in school. He had trouble learning in the traditional setting of a classroom and suffered with communication and behavioral issues. He also went on to win the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the photoelectric effect and trumped Isaac Newton, by correcting problems in Newtonian physics with his theory of relativity. Einstein just goes to show that learning is not a one-size-fits all machine.
4. Stephen King
Everyone’s favorite twisted king of horror wasn’t always on top of the world. Before he made it as a writer, Stephen King was an English school teacher who lived in a trailer with his wife and had trouble just paying his bills. His first novel Carrie, which his wife saved from the trashcan and begged him to finish, saw 30 rejections before being picked up. King went on to become one of the best-selling authors of all time, selling between 300 and 350 million copies, and having multiple stories transformed for the big screen. He is estimated to be worth $400 million.
3. Walt Disney
The man who took a simple sketch of a mouse, and turned it into one of the most profitable franchises, including animations and amusement parks was, believe it or not, fired from his job by a newspaper editor. The reason he was given was because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” But, that no-good-idea of a mouse is the reason Walt Disney is worth an estimated $5 billion today.
2. J.K. Rowling
Everyone is familiar with J.K. Rowling’s story. Before Harry Potter magically changed her life, Rowling was a single mom, just barely getting by on welfare. She got the idea for Potter while riding the train and wrote the novel in coffee shops. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times before being picked up for a small run by Scholastic, in 1997. In 2004, Rowling became the first billionaire author ever.
1. The Beatles
The greatest pop group of all time got dropped by their original label. What is now widely known as one of the biggest mistakes in the industry, Decca Recording studios recorded 15 songs with the British boy band before saying, “we don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out. They have no future in show business.” Half of a century and 600 million album sales later, there are business courses that actually teach their students not to be the guy who turns down The Beatles.