Colonel Sanders, born in 1890, was a 6th grade drop out. He moved through an insane number of jobs – from being an insurance salesman, a fireman and even an entrepreneur of a couple of unsuccessful ventures. His adventure with food began in 1930 when he started making food along with running a Shell Oil service center in Kentucky. He then went into the motel business, though not without failures there too. He kept working on perfecting his recipe of Kentucky chicken with his secret herbs and unique style of cooking. In 1955, at the age of 65 when most people look forward to a life of retirement, Colonel Sanders went about establishing a franchise model for his business. And it is believed that he was refused 1009 times before he heard the first ‘yes’ for his first franchisee. And by 1964, he had 600 franchises that sold his trademark Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is never too late in life to start a wonderful journey.
Thomas Edison is one of the more popular scientists famous for his invention that brought the convenience of light in our lives. He was expelled from school where his teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything”. His mother schooled him at home. And, to me, it’s the most inspirational to read his quote that says,
You can imagine the sheer determination and brimming positivity for someone to fail ten thousand times and yet not abandon his path feeling like a shattered, miserable failure! He not just completed what he started inventing but also got a 1000 patents and further invented the phonograph, practical electrical lamp and a movie camera. What a huge tribute to the spirit of optimism!
Mary Kom was born in Manipur in a tribal community and I’d like to begin by saying that life isn’t easy just by the virtue of being a woman. Added to it were financial constraints, breaks due to marriage, children but Mary Kom kept her head above all challenges and emerged a winner every single time through her discipline, confidence, indomitable will and positive attitude. She went on to win numerous titles even when people thought her age and fitness levels weren’t in her favour. If this doesn’t reflect the true spirit of a sportsperson, what would? Her husband, Onler has always been by her side as an unflagging pillar of strength.
Who doesn’t know the living legend Amitabh Bachchan? The only actor from his times who is still going great guns with his unparalleled energy and gusto for his work. The actor who is adored and worshipped across the world wasn’t exactly welcomed when he first came to Mumbai to try his luck. He was repeatedly rejected for being too tall and lanky at 6 feet 3. But lady luck did shine on him and he went on to etch a name for himself in golden letters in the world of Bollywood. But for a career spanning as many decades as his, it is bound to be strewn with obstacles. The lowest noteworthy point in his life came in 1996, at the age of 54, when his company, ABCL hosted the Miss World pageant. Not only was the event surrounded by controversy, but ABCL also incurred debts running into millions. In his own words,
“In the year 2000, when the entire world was celebrating the new century, I was celebrating my disastrous fortune. There were no films, no money, no company, a million legal cases against and the tax authorities had put notice of recovery on my home,” – as told in a interview for a magazine.
And today, he has not just successfully reinvented himself but can also put people half his age to shame with his energy, passion and commitment for his work at the age of 72!
There are millions of such success stories that were born from the womb of failures – Beethoven composed his best work when he was deaf, Walt Disney was rejected for lack of imagination, Einstein was expelled from school for being dull, Rowling was broke, depressed and divorced when she came up with Harry Potter. The invincible resolve to be succeed and refusal to get bogged down by any obstacle has been the known secret of their success.
Success doesn’t come easy. These people did not become inspirational legends overnight. Hardwork and determination with undying optimism kept them going. How many times do you try before you decide to give up? Once? Twice? 5 times? 10? You will realise that we give up way too soon. And that is what makes us different from them. Let’s get inspired from these stories, strengthen our will towards our goals and pledge never to give up no matter what the hindrance!
Need more inspiration, read: 50 famously successful people who failed at first
(I have done my best to get my facts right in this post. Any error that might have still crept in is unintentional and inadvertent)