It's easy to look at the winners standing proudly on stage or confidently at the top of a podium. What you don't see in that moment is the scars, sacrifices, and ultimately the failures that precluded that moment. It may surprise you to know that the driven men we tell stories of today, the CEO's, NBA MVP's, and world renowned scientists aren't all that different from you and me. Their secret to success? It wasn't avoiding failure...it was embracing it. Keep reading to hear how millionaires and icons like Steve Jobs and Michael Jordan turned failure into triumph—unveiling their remarkable journeys.
Steve Jobs 1955-2011 by segagman is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Did you know Steve Jobs was once fired from the same company he founded?
“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.” He said, after the fact.
Call him stubborn, or call him resilient, he doubled down and invested in himself. He took $12 million of his own money and founded a new computer company called NeXT. Even the story of NeXT is one riddled with failure. The computers were incredibly expensive and never took off, but the software was remarkably valuable and Apple knew it.
Steve Jobs turned his failures into success and later sold the NeXT operating system to Apple in 1997 for $429 million.
Jobs “failure” and firing, drove him to create the software that is now the backbone for MacOS, the foundation powering Macs and iPhones you may be using to read this article today.
Fun fact, Steve Jobs' success gave him the ability to invest in the computer graphics division of a company led by a gentleman named George Lucas called Pixar, which went on to produce the first 3D animated movie Toy Story.
Michael Jordan by Kip-koech is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
"I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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."
Another legendary success story is Michael Jordan being cut from the varsity team. Full disclosure, there is a bit of embellishment to this myth, but the lesson holds true. 5'10" 15 year old Michael Jordan wasn't necessarily cut from the varsity team, but rather told he should develop on the JV team.
Young Mike went home that night and cried, not only did he not make the varsity team, but his classmate, Leroy Smith, did. I think the rest of this story is history, Michael never forgot that feeling of failure: it's rumored that he still checks into hotels under the name “Leroy Smith.”
Over time, his weaknesses turned into formidable strengths. Some even say what Michael Jordan accomplished in the 1988-89 season was the beginning of his legacy. He was always known as a scorer, but not necessarily as a defender. That year he went on to be named the NBA defensive player of the year, while also averaging 35 points per game and securing the NBA MVP award, too. Fun fact, that award is now called the Michael Jordan Trophy.
Albert Einstein - Colorized by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Albert Einstein, universally known as a luminary of theoretical physics, endured his own unique journey from failure to success. After failing his entrance exam to a Swiss school, Albert Einstein had to spend an extra year in studying before he was accepted. After eventually graduating he was unable to find a job for another two years.
Eventually a friend recommended him to the Swiss patent office. This small victory gave him ample time to contemplate the mysteries of the physical universe. Seemingly mundane tasks allowed him the mental space to formulate ideas that would radically reshape our understanding of the physical universe.
During his tenure at the patent office, Einstein embarked on a monumental journey to develop the theory of relativity. The theory, which revolutionized the field of theoretical physics, suggests that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers. This was a significant divergence from the Newtonian mechanics that dominated scientific understanding at the time.
Einstein flipped his failure into an opportunity to stack his chips, quietly grinding and constantly growing. Today, Einstein is considered one of the greatest scientific minds in history, and his theories continue to serve as the foundation for modern physics. They have had far-reaching implications in various fields, including cosmology, gravitational waves research, and GPS technology.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park by National Park Service is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Thomas Edison was nearly deaf since childhood, and later even called “too stupid to learn anything” at school. His mother eventually homeschooled him, and Edison used that frustration as motivation. must have really lit a fire within young Edison, or should I say, lightbulb?
He famously said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Rather than viewing his deafness as a setback, he infamously attributed the silence to helping him focus. Eventually, Edison had his eureka moment. He invented the practical electric light bulb that would illuminate the world, literally and metaphorically.
His invention shed light not only on our homes but also on the incredible power of human ingenuity and perseverance. Edison later went on to develop the light bulb, the phonograph, automatic telegraph, rechargeable batteries, and many other enhancements to current technology as well.
In a nutshell, Edison's story isn't just about his incredible inventions. It's a tale of resilience, perseverance, and unyielding curiosity. It's a powerful reminder that we are not defined by our circumstances, but by how we respond to them. No matter how big the setbacks, no matter how daunting the obstacles, we have the power to overcome them and shine brighter than ever - just like Edison's light bulb!
Ludwig van Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons by Royal Opera House Covent Garden is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.
Let's dive into the wild journey of Ludwig van Beethoven, a legendary composer who knew a thing or two about turning a bad hand into a winning game.
Beethoven was a music whizz kid, destined to be a superstar. But then, life threw him a massive curveball. Just when he was hitting his stride, he started losing his hearing. That's right, our man was becoming deaf. His ears failing him was certainly not a "failure" on his part, but it definitely was a setback to an inspiring musical composer.
For anyone, losing their hearing is brutal, but for a composer? It was a disaster. Music was Beethoven's life, and his world started slipping into a silent void.
Now, if it were you or me, we might have called it quits. But Beethoven? Nope. He was the sort of guy who, when life handed him lemons, made some epic lemonade. With his hearing fading, he didn't panic or throw in the towel. Instead, he somehow managed to tune into music in a way most people couldn't. It wasn't through his ears anymore; it was like he was feeling the music in his very bones.
And you know what? It was during this time that he created some of his greatest symphonies. We're talking symphonies that totally blew people's minds and changed the game forever. His Ninth Symphony, one of the biggest masterpieces was composed when he was deaf.
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