10-75 The story of success and failure

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Unit 7, Lesson 6, ex. 2 

Not everyone who’s on top today got there with success after success. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous problems that made them work harder and show more determination than others. Next time you’re feeling down about your failures at school or any other business, keep these ten famous people in mind and remind yourself that sometimes failure is just the first step towards success.

A. While Henry Ford is known as one of the richest and influential people in the world whose introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionised transportation and American industry, he wasn’t an immediate success. In fact, his early businesses failed and left him broke five times before he founded the successful Ford Motor Company.

B. Bill Gates didn’t seem to promise any success after giving up his studies in Harvard and starting a failed first business called Traf-O-Data with his friend Paul Allen. While this early idea didn’t work, Gates’ later work did, creating the global empire that is Microsoft.

C. Today Walt Disney rakes in billions from products, movies and theme parks around the world, but Walt Disney himself had a bit of a rough start. Hardly had he started his first job in a newspaper when he was fired because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. After that, Disney started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with loss of money and failure. He kept working hard, however, and eventually found a recipe for success that worked.

D. Most of us take Albert Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he had mental problems, was slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and couldn’t enter the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.

E. In his early years, teachers told Thomas Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything”. Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.

F. The brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright had to cope with depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating flying machines, several years of hard work, and tons of failed models, the brothers finally created a plane that could get up in the air and stay there.

G. While today Abraham Lincoln is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln’s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you’re not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed businesses and lost in numerous elections for public office he participated in.

H. Oprah Winfrey: Most people know Oprah as one of the most iconic faces on TV as well as one of the richest and most influential women in the world. Oprah faced a hard road to get to that position, however, having a terrible childhood. No sooner had she been born than her teenage mother fled away leaving her to live on her grandmother’s farm. The family was so poor that Winfrey often wore dresses made of potato sacks, for which the local children made fun of her. At 13, after years of horrific life, Winfrey ran away from home. Later she also had numerous career setbacks including losing her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV.”

I. Stephen King: The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, was turned down 30 times, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to finish it and send it again, and the rest is history, with King now having hundreds of books published the distinction of being one of the best-selling authors of all time. His books have sold more than 350 million copies which have been made into many movies and television films.

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