Here’s a story you never read: Once, a person was too fat. Then that person went on a diet and lost one hundred pounds and never gained it back. Here’s some more you never hear:
A famous comedian was so good, he never bombed a set; musician was so great, he never hit the wrong note; a scientist discovered a cure for cancer on her first try; a golfer hit a hole in one the first time he picked up a club. You get the idea.
If you take a few minutes to read the biography of a person you admire, living or dead, you will probably see that their biggest success came after an equally colossal career failure. It’s entirely possible that they took what they learned from that drubbing and turned it into success. And in almost no cases does someone learn how to succeed at one thing and never fail at something new.
Consider Thomas Edison. He famously kept his enthusiasm after thousands of failed attempts to find the right materials for a reliable light bulb. He thought he also had a pretty good idea when he was able to record sounds on a sheet of tinfoil—but the tinfoil fell apart after being used just once, and he kept going until he figured how to use a wax cylinder instead. Not all his ideas were “fully baked.” He also created a messy and noisy electric pen that was a complete bust—until another inventor, Albert B. Dick, later took his idea and created the mimeograph.
Or consider Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was great at being muscular, but was told he’d never be an action star, never be a comedy star, never marry a member of the Kennedy family, and never be taken seriously as the governor of California. He never listened to those people.
Countless inventors, investors, athletes, coders, and presidents have followed this advice and continued to go on where it would be easy to just give up and play it safe.
Every single name on every “top ten most successful ___” list has had crushing career failure that made them question their own self-worth, both before and after “making it big,” and every one of them has dusted themselves off and come back for more.
No matter how many ideas you have, both good and bad, they’ll put your great ideas on the front page and your bad ones on the footnotes. But, as Edison said, genius is only 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Simply having a great idea is not nearly enough, you have to try, you have to fail, you have to push, you have to learn, and eventually you will succeed.
If you’ve tried and haven’t succeeded yet, you’re in good company. That’s why, to help encourage you to continue to follow your dreams, GetVoIP made a list of some of today’s biggest success stories, and the massive flops that brought them there.
20 Inspiring Stories on Dealing with Career Failure