Thursday, January 26, 2017

Being a Failure Isn't So Bad: 5 Examples of Successful Failures

Posted by: Angela Campbell
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” - Thomas Edison

The past year has been tough, and the new year isn't looking much better for this writer. The truth is, I've been so slammed with life problems I've barely had time to think about writing, much less have time to actually sit down and write something (you know, besides this blog post).

When it comes to writers, failing is nothing new. I'm pretty sure the only person who cares I haven't written anything lately is me. After all, my life plan to become a best-selling author so I can travel the world with my cat in tow stalking admiring Henry Cavill while a reliable team runs my ranch for homeless and abused animals isn't keeping anyone up at night except me. And maybe Henry Cavill if he reads this.

Point is, I'm at that point where I need some serious motivation to lift my spirits, and I have a feeling other writers reading this might need a shot of positivity, too. So, I thought I'd remind us all that failure is often a pathway to success, as long as you don't give up. 

Walt Disney

The mac daddy of all dreamers was fired from a Missouri newspaper when he was 22 for "not being creative enough." The creator of Mickey Mouse also saw one of his early ventures, Laugh-o-gram Studios, go bankrupt. Of course, he went on to be nominated for 59 Oscars (he won 32). Fun fact: he still holds the record for the most Oscars won by any individual ever. Not to mention, the man created Disneyland and Disney World. Basically, he dropped the mic and walked away before anyone else. Boom.

JK Rowling

Harry Potter's creator was a waitress on public assistance when she wrote the first installment of what would become probably the best-selling book series in history. The first "Harry Potter" book was rejected by dozens of publishers who probably now spend their mornings crying over their corn flakes and doubting every decision they've ever made. Fortune lists JK Rowling's net worth at $1.2 billion now, but above it all, she's one of the most beloved writers of all time. 

Elvis Presley

Elvis sold more than 1 billion records globally, but after his very first performance his manager Jimmy Denny told him, "You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck." Fortunately for this diehard Elvis fan, Elvis returned that advice to sender and became the king of rock and roll. Take that, Jimmy Denny!

Steven Spielberg

Did you know Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California's film school three times? Instead, he enrolled at California State University at Long Beach and his filmmaking career has spanned four decades, numerous box office hits, and three Academy Awards. As for USC, he was eventually awarded an honorary degree from the film school in 1994 and became a trustee of the university in 1996. 

Christopher Reeve

The man who played Superman became a quadriplegic, so this example of a "failure" is more tragic than anything but still inspiring when all is said and done. In interviews, Mr. Reeve admitted he struggled with his situation, at times was suicidal, but, ultimately, he learned to live with it.

“In the morning, I need 20 minutes to cry. To wake up and make that shift, you know, and to just say, 'This really sucks,' to really allow yourself the feeling of loss. It still needs to be acknowledged.” Then, he'd say, "And now...forward!" — Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve had to take a moment everyday to acknowledge the reality of his situation. But he didn't let that stop him. He still traveled doing public speaking on behalf of people with spinal injuries, raised funds for his own and other foundations, and became a movie director. He took what he had and tried to help others in the best way he could. That makes him the biggest success on this list in my book, and a great reminder that no matter what life throws at me, I can roll with it. 

Because Superman taught me so.


Angela Campbell is the author of the psychic detectives series from Harper Impulse. Learn more about her and her books at

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