You've heard it before: "If at first you don't succeed, try again." Sometimes you may feel like that's just a saying, but it is absolutely not. The 15 incredible stories below show how even horrible tragedies and setbacks can help fuel a drive for success.
From Oprah Winfrey's scarred childhood to Bill Gates' failed business ventures, these people have been through the grinder, and came out even better than before. Their stories stress one of the most important lessons of all: Never ever give up. Scroll through the list for some serious inspiration.
Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was four years old.
Einstein didn't have the best childhood. In fact, many people thought he was just a dud. He never spoke for the first three years of his life, and throughout elementary school, many of his teachers thought he was lazy and wouldn't make anything of himself. He always received good marks, but his head was in the clouds, conjuring up abstract questions people couldn't understand. But he kept thinking and, well, he eventually developed the theory of relativity, which many of us still can't wrap our heads around.
Jim Carrey used to be homeless.
Carrey revealed to James Lipton on "Inside the Actor's Studio" that when he was 15, he had to drop out of school to support his family. His father was an unemployed musician and as the family went from "lower middle class to poor," they eventually had to start living in a van. Carrey didn't let this stop him from achieving his dream of becoming a comedian: He went from having his dad drive him to comedy clubs in Toronto to starring in mega-blockbusters and being known as one of the best comedic actors of an era.
Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a shark.
If it weren't for King's wife, "Carrie" may not have ever existed. After beingconsistently rejected by publishing houses, King gave up and threw his first book in the trash. His wife, Tabitha, retrieved the manuscript and urged King to finish it. Now, King's books have sold over 350 million copies and have been made into countless major motion pictures.
Oprah Winfrey gave birth at age 14 and lost her child.
She is one of the most successful and richest people in the world today, but Winfrey didn't always have it so easy. She grew up in Milwaukee, Wis. and was repeatedly molested by her cousin, uncle and a family friend. She eventually ran away from home, and at age 14 gave birth to a baby boy who shortly died after.
But Winfrey's tragic past didn't stop her from becoming the force she is today. She excelled as an honors student in high school, and won an oratory contest which secured her a full scholarship to college. Now the entrepreneur and personality has the admiration of millions and a net worth of $2.9 billion.
Thomas Edison failed 1,000 times before creating the lightbulb.
Kris Carr turned her cancer into a business of hope and healing.
In 2003, Karr was a 32-year-old New Yorker just enjoying life. But then, a regular checkup at her doctor's office resulted in a diagnosis of a rare and incurable Stage IV cancer called epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, existing in her liver and lungs.
Instead of succumbing to the disease, Carr decided to challenge her diagnosis head on. She attacked her cancer with a brand new nutritional lifestyle, and turned her experience into a series of successful self-help books and documentaries. Eventually, she launched her own wellness website, which is followed by over 40,000 people. Today, Karr is celebrating a decade of "thriving with cancer," and is now revered as one of the most prominent experts on healthy living.
Jay-Z couldn't get signed to any record labels.
No one can stop Jay-Z. He came from a rough Brooklyn neighborhood and had big dreams to make it big as a rapper. Unfortunately, the rest of the world didn't agree with him at first. Not one record label would sign him. Yet that didn't stop him from creating his own music powerhouse. His label would eventually turn into the insanely lucrative Roc-A-Fella Records. Here's proof Jay-Z is on top: Forbes has estimated his net worth at $500 million, and TIME ranked him at one of their 2013 Most Influential People In The World. And he's married to Beyoncé.
Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime.
By his late twenties, Cowell had made a million dollars and lost a million dollars. Cowell told The Daily Mail in 2012, "‘I’ve had many failures. The biggest were at times when I believed my own hype. I’d had smaller failures, signing bands that didn’t work, but my record company going bust, that was the first big one." Even after such a momentous loss, Cowell picked himself up and became one of the biggest forces in reality television, serving as a judge for "Pop Idol," "The X Factor," "Britain's Got Talent" and "American Idol." Forbes has estimated his net worth at $95 million.
Charlize Theron witnessed her mother kill her father.
You read that right. One of the most prolific filmmakers of all time, the man who brought us "Shindler's List," "Jaws," "E.T." and "Jurassic Park" couldn't get into the film school of his choice. Maybe, just sometimes, education can be a little overrated. In the end, Spielberg would get the last laugh, when USC awarded him an honorary degree in 1994. Two years later, he became a trustee of the university.
I keep this post to remind myself that even though I don't like failures/setbacks/problems, these are opportunities for growth and improvement.
At the end of the day, I try to find peace and solace in that I have given my best. Certain things in life are beyond my control. At least, I have not let myself down by not trying or putting in effort.