10 Successful People Who Overcame Setbacks To Achieve Success

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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 10 incredible stories below show how even horrible tragedies and setbacks can help fuel a drive for success.

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.

1.  Lionel Messi.  Before becoming the greatest soccer player of his generation, Lionel Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency at the age of 11.  He was considered by experts too small to play soccer.

Nicknamed La Pulga (The Flea) on account of his slight frame, Messi underwent growth hormone treatment, with every effort being made to nurture and prepare him for his ascension to the first team. Since making his debut against Espanyol in 2004, Messi has won trophy after trophy with Barça and a succession of individual awards, including four consecutive FIFA Ballons d’Or.


2.  Jay-Z.  

Jay-Z 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 TIMES Magazine ranked him as one of their 2013 Most Influential People In The World.  And he’s married to Beyoncé.


3.  Richard Branson

Many are not aware of this;  Richard Branson has dyslexia.  While in school  Branson was challenged to get good marks and did poorly on standardized tests.  Instead of giving up, he used the power of his personality to drive him to success. Today, Sir Richard Branson is the billionaire CEO of the Virgin Group who has a net worth of $5.1 billion dollars.


4.  J.K. Rowling

Before becoming a billionaire writer, J.K. Rowling was a divorced single mother on welfare struggling to get by while also attending school and writing a novel.

Through determination, the novel turned into the “Harry Potter” franchise.  As of July 2013, the books have sold between 400 to 450 million copies worldwide and counting.


5.  Michael Jordan

After being cut from his high school basketball team, a young Michael Jordan went home and cried in the privacy of his bedroom.

But Jordan didn’t let this early life setback stop him from playing the game that he loved.  He went on to become the greatest NBA basketball player ever, and is currently the chairman and majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.

As he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”


6.  Hugh Jackman

Before he was Wolverine in “X-Men” or a Broadway star, actor Hugh Jackman got fired from his cashier job at 7-Eleven. Jackman eventaully found success in Hollywood and Broadway, and was also voted The Sexiest Man Alive in 2008.


7.  Oprah Winfrey

At age of 22, Oprah was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for tv.”

Oprah was terminated from her post as co-anchor of the 6 o’clock weekday news on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV after the show received low ratings.  Oprah has called it her “first and worst failure” of her TV career.

Winfrey was then demoted to morning TV, where she found her voice and met fellow newbie Gayle King, who would one day become her producer and editor of O, The Oprah Magazine.

Seven years later, Winfrey moved to Chicago, where her self-titled talk show went on to dominate daytime TV for 25 years, and ultimately head her own channel:  OWN.


8.  Ronda Rousey

The UFC women’s bantamweight champion road to success in the ring wasn’t an easy one.

Only a few days after becoming the first American woman to earn an Olympic judo medal when she won a bronze in the 154-pound class in Beijing, Rousey was shocked to learn the bronze medal and a couple of bucks would buy her a cup of coffee.

It didn’t help her to get a job after the Games. It didn’t give her access to an education grant or some sort of job-training. The medal wasn’t even enough to allow her to run for an hour on a treadmill at a local gym.  Rousey was so broke that when she returned from the Olympics, she lived in her car while working three jobs.

Rousey’s insatiable work ethic has led her to success in and out of the ring.  Besides being a UFC Champion, Rousey also models and acts.


9.  Steven King

King’s first book (Carrie) was rejected 30 times. One publisher said “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” King was understandably over it and tossed the Carrie manuscript in the garbage. His wife Tabitha retrieved it from the trash, he submitted it once more, and it went on to sell 30 million copies.


10.  The Beatles

The band was famously rejected by Decca Records. The record company stated, “Guitar groups are on the way out.” We all know how that turned out. They kept playing the club circuit until five or so months after the Decca rejection, they were signed to EMI.  They became widely regarded as the greatest and most influential act of the rock era.





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