As a young man, Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. Afterwards, he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in Springfield, he was too impractical and temperamental to be a success. He turned to politics and was defeated in his first try for the legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858. At about that time, he wrote in a letter to a friend, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth.”
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Henry Ford failed at 3 business and went broke five times before he succeeded with Ford Motor Company at age 53
When Lucille Ball began studying to be actress in 1927, she was told by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School, “Try any other profession.”
Decca Records turned down a recording contract with The Beatles with the unprophetic evaluation, “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.” After Decca rejected the Beatles, Columbia records followed suit.
Van Gogh sold only one painting during his life. And this to the sister of one of his friends for 400 francs (approximately $50). This didn’t stop him from completing over 800 paintings.
J.K. Rowling was unemployed, divorced and raising a daughter on social security while writing the first Harry Potter, which was rejected by 12 publishing houses before a small London house picked it up.
KFC founder Colonel Sanders was rejected 1009 times before finding a taker for his chicken recipe.
Winston Churchill repeated a grade during elementary school and, when he entered Harrow, was placed in the lowest division of the lowest class. Later, he twice failed the entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He was defeated in his first effort to serve in Parliament. He became Prime Minister at the age of 62. He later wrote, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up.”