The Number of Failures Before Success [Infographic]
In a society where the one thing constantly celebrated and harped on is success, sometimes we forget the failures that come along with every “person of the year” cover story. Today’s infographic highlights some of the failures experienced by world-renowned individuals:
Breaking it down,
- Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California Film School 3 times. He eventually attended another school, only to drop out and become a director. He returned school to earn his BA 35 years later.
- Productivity guru Tim Ferris was rejected by publishers 25 times for his book The 4-Hour Workweek. It went on to become a New York Times’ Best Seller, as has his next two books The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef.
- Founder of Pandora, Tim Westergren, was rejected by over 300 VCs when pitching for funding. The company spent 2.5 years broke. To compensate for the lack of funds, Westergren worked for free and convinced others to do the same.
- Richard Branson launched 400 companies before founding one that is out of this world (Virgin Galactic). As with any successful entrepreneur, he has failed in many businesses from Virgin Cola to Virgin Brides to Virgin Cars to Virgin Clothing to Virgin Cosmetics. Bet you didn’t know that Branson launched a cosmetics company before, did you? He even started a condoms company in 1987 (which he sold a year later) that has become big in the UK!
- Colonel Sanders was rejected 1,009 times when trying to sell his fried chicken recipe. As we all know, KFC is a world-renowned franchise today and likely inspired the launch of other fried chicken companies. I share more of Colonel’s story here (see point #7).
- Sylvester Stallone was rejected 1,500 times when he tried selling his script and himself for what would be the film Rocky. Stallone suffers from partial paralysis in his face which made it difficult for him to get casted in an industry that’s all about looks. Today, Rocky is one of the most successful film series of all time, grossing more than US $1 billion.
- James Dyson, founder of the Dyson, created 5,126 times failed prototypes of his vacuum cleaner before succeeding. Today, Dyson sells machines in over 70 countries and employs more than 7,000 people worldwide.
- And you probably know this one: Thomas Edison created 10,000 failed prototypes of his electric bulb before succeeding. As he famously said,
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
It is easy to ignore the hard work and failures that winners experienced in their success as they may seem uncool or unsexy.
But failure is part and parcel of success. Failure is where we learn about ourselves and ways that don’t work. Failure is where we become more intelligent and gain more experience and understand the gaps in our skills. Failure is where we move closer to success.
Meaning… to succeed fast,
- Learn to fail. Fast. Take action. Try different things. Bad ideas, good ideas; it don’t matter. Just put yourself out THERE.
- Then, learn from these failures. Be curious. Understand what worked and what didn’t work.
- Fix the issues that didn’t work and revise your strategy.
- Then, try again.
The more you fail, the more experienced you are. The more experienced you are, the smarter you become. The smarter you become, the higher your chances of success. And in a matter of time, you will reach your desired goal.
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