We all hope to let our passions lead us – no matter what direction they may take. For some of us, we want to be big-time CEOs with an army of employees beneath us, while others are more content just playing their part as members of a team working toward a goal.
Some of us dream of owning bakeries and websites, of anchoring TV shows and being integral to the future of technology.
We see our dreams – they’re right there, floating right in front of us. But the thought of lunging for them is terrifying. What if we fail? What if things don’t work out?
All too often, we forget that the successful doers and dreamers were once dusting their most recent failures off, getting back on the horse. They were a bit more cautious, but they were ready – hungry – to try again.
Let these eight incredibly savvy entrepreneurs who’ve paved the way for all of us in some way shape or form remind you of the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”
Because they did.
1. Walt Disney
Years and years before we were twirling around our respective playrooms decked head-to-toe in Belle and Cinderella-inspired dresses, dreaming up Prince Charmings and hugging our favorite Mickey and Minnie stuffed animals to our chests before bedtime, there was a man, a mouse and a dream.
He was told time and time again that a “lovable rodent” just wouldn’t work for consumers. Lucky for him (and us), the world’s most lovable rodent has been a staple in households around the country – and the world – for the last 86 years.
2. Oprah Winfrey
We recognize her as the daytime television mogul that made TV fun again, but before there was ever “The Oprah Winfrey Show” or a namesake television network erected in her likeness, Oprah Winfrey was just a Baltimore-area news reporter who was fired.
Fast forward a few years into the future and The Queen of Daytime Talk-Show Television has earned a net worth of more than $2.7 billion.
It’s probably a good thing they fired her then, because they certainly couldn’t afford her now.
3. Fred Smith
All of us who’ve ever had to ship something cross-country should really get down on hands and knees and thank Fred Smith for his devotion to creating a simplified means of getting a package from one shining sea to another. The founder of Fed Ex believed that the creation of an “express” shipping industry would not only simplify consumer complaints, it would revolutionize the way the world viewed “snail mail.”
Though his college professor might had little to say in support of the project, believing Smith’s idea to be “interesting, but not feasible,” the rest of the world cheered a little louder.
We’re thankful it did.
4. Colonel Sanders
You can thank your fried chicken that Sanders wasn’t so easily swayed into thinking that his recipe for finger-lickin’ chicken was a miss for hungry mouths. As a matter of fact, his first “yes” didn’t come until after he’d been rejected by more than 1,000 different restaurants.
Sanders was among the first to fully realize the idea that fast food could still feel homemade and give you that fresh-from-the-kitchen feeling. Our mouths are forever thankful and our bellies, forever full.
5. Steven Spielberg
One of the most awe-inspiring directors of our age who will undoubtedly go down in history for his iconic cinematic representations of “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park,” didn’t always have the magic touch.
Spielberg was rejected not once, not twice, but three times from film school before finally getting a seat in the classroom.
6. Arianna Huffington
Huffington Post’s cofounder has been incredibly vocal about how her failures and naysayers have helped shape her future award-winning successes. When the media mogul’s second novel was turned down by publishers a mere 36 times, she found herself looking inward for guidance, confidence and resilience.
She told Fast Company,
My mother used to tell me, ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success.’ So at some point, I learned not to dread failure. I strongly believe that we are not put on this Earth just to accumulate victories and trophies and avoid failures; but rather to be whittled and sandpapered down until what’s left is who we truly are.
7. Steve Jobs
Long before Jobs and Apple became the purveyor of technologically savvy and game-changing goods to Millennials everywhere, Jobs was actually unemployed – by the very brand that would make him a household name.
The late face of Apple was fired from Apple Computers in the early days, but there was – clearly – no bad blood. During his 2005 commencement speech at Stanford, Jobs publically addressed the falling out, saying, “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. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
8. Michael Jordan
Where would basketball be without the enigmatic icon that helped forever shape the professional industry? It wasn’t enough that we grew up watching Jordan convert dunk after dunk, championship after championship – we physically wanted to embody the star athlete, wearing every item of clothing possible that the basketball great put his name up against.
But before we even begin to imagine what the world has been like in the wake of Jordan’s brilliance, let’s remember that time, so many years ago, when he was cut from his high school basketball program.
Not even MJ would be silenced by a “no.”