The biggest possible problem that anyone can encounter on the way to success is failure. Taking action and putting yourself into something new and unknown may definitely be challenging for most of us, but it is nowhere near the difficulty of dealing and overcoming failure. We assume that we are ready to tackle any problem that will come our way, but when it actually happens, it turns out to be a whole different story. And the reason why dealing with failure is so hard is not because we don’t know how to handle difficulties, or not only because we don’t know how to handle difficulties, but more so because we fail to anticipate them. Simply put, it hits us when we expect it least.

The problem lies in the fact that when we begin something new, there is no way for us to really know what is to come. We see and judge it from the perspective of a rookie, and because we have not yet put a lot of work, time and money into it, it just doesn’t seem like it would be that much of an issue. However, when we have already spent much resources on it, put our heart and soul into it, failure and adversity gain a whole new meaning. They become deadly. The question is then, will you be able to overcome them or not? In fact, that’s what separates successful people from the rest of the crowd. Not because they know something that no one else does, but because they are able to push through no matter what.

No successful person in this world was born successful. Each one of them had to learn and to master what they did. Failure and adversity were something that they had to go through just like anyone else. And to help you understand this and to motivate you, I have put together four short motivational stories that should help you understand that without failure you will not succeed – it is as common to success as breathing is to life. Instead of being put down by it, realize that it is part of the game, learn from it and embrace it. I wish you all the success in the world!

Short motivational stories

Thomas Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931)

The first short motivational story concerns Thomas Edison, who was schooled at home because his teacher said that he was “too stupid to learn anything”, and he was fired from his first couple of jobs because he was “non-productive”.

Most of us know him as the inventor of the modern light bulb, but not many know that he was actually a serial entrepreneur of his time.

Before becoming famous for the lightbulb, Edison had already been coming up with new things for quite some time. He started a company called the Edison Portland Cement Co, the aim of which was to improve the cement industry. He also invented the automatic vote-tally system for the congress. The first example, the company, never grew to the scale that Edison had anticipated it to grow, and the vote-tally system was simply rejected by the congress.

There were many other creations of his that never made it big, but that never stopped him from trying over and over. All in all, Edison acquired as many as 1,093 patents throughout his life to protect all of his ideas and inventions.

It is said that before coming up with the light bulb, he had to go through over more than 10,000 prototypes to finally make it work the way he wanted it to. When he was asked about his failure, the 10,000 attempts, Edison replied that “I have not failed 10,000 times — I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

Ludwig van Beethoven (December 1770 – March 26, 1827)

The second short motivational story is about Ludwig van Beethoven, who is one of the most known classical composers of all time.

Beethoven’s career as a composer did not start very well. His music teacher had said that “as a composer, he is hopeless”. At a later stage in life, he was also strongly criticized for the music that he created. Yet he became one of biggest influencers to shift the classical era towards the romantic era.

Although Beethoven is today known for his beautiful music, it did not come easily for him at all. Writing a symphony already on its own is a task that most of us can’t even imagine, but to make it even worse, in his late 20’s, Beethoven began to lose his hearing. And as years passed by, it only got worse. It is said that one day when Beethoven was spending time with his fellow composer Ferdinand Ries, they saw a shepherd playing a pipe. They both could see it, but only Ries could hear its beauty. Then Beethoven had for the first time confronted his deafness. That incident had changed him forever.

Beethoven was slowly but surely going deaf, but he would not give up. He knew that the only thing he could do in life was related to music, and there was no way he would let that go. As a result, he continued to write music. At early stages of his deafness he began to use lower notes, as he could not hear so well the higher ones, but once he went completely deaf, he could rely only on the sounds that were inside of his mind.

Beethoven wrote many great pieces during his lifetime, but one of the most famous ones is his Ninth Symphony. That symphony was written when he was completely deaf.

A great short motivational story from a great man. Life without music was not an option for him.

Walt Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966)

The third short motivational story is about Walt Disney. Thanks to the cartoons produced by his studio we were able to enjoy so many moments of our childhood, and still do up to this day.

However, Disney’s life was also not all that smooth. He was an entrepreneur, and anyone who has taken that path is bound to face adversity and failure.

At the age of 22, Walt Disney was fired from a Missouri newspaper, because he was “not creative enough”. One of his first companies, Laugh-o-gram Studios never succeeded and eventually became bankrupt. 

Disney had moved to Los Angeles with only 40$ in his pocket and a suitcase that had a shirt, two undershorts, two pairs of socks and drawing materials. Because he doubted that he could be any better than others in creating animations, his goal was to become a Hollywood actor, which also never took place.  

In the 1920’s Disney was asked to create something new that would be distributed through the Universal Studios, and so he did. He created Oswald the Rabbit, which had a lot of potential. However, when in 1928 Disney asked for a larger fee for the production of the series, he got a very unexpected response. Instead, Charlez Mintz, the producer, wanted to reduce the fees. Disney decided to refuse to the reductions, after which Mintz asked Disney’s team members to work for him directly instead. Not only Mintz had owned all of the intellectual property rights to Oswald the Rabbit, but he also had persuaded most of Disney’s artists to leave him. You can only imagine what Disney then felt.

Regardless of the adversities and the failures that Disney had to go through, we all know his works today. The famous Mickey and Minnie Mouse were nominated for 59 Academy Awards, 32 of which were won. Also, Walt Disney holds the record for most awards won by an individual, which is 22 Oscars. Not bad, right? 

short motivational stories 3

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

Just like with the previous 3 examples, we all know who Steve Jobs is. We all know him as the creator of the iPhone, iPod, iPad and the Mac.

This short motivational story is about the man who has greatly influenced the way we want to see technology today. He has created and set a new standard for what it means to have a “smart” mobile phone. And just like with all the previous examples, his road to success was not easy.

Jobs was born in San Francisco and was adopted at birth. Throughout his early life, he traveled to India and learned how to meditate. He says that “finding himself” was crucial to his future success, as that showed him that upon coming back to the States, he must concentrate on doing what he really loves. I talk more about him and meditation here.

motivational story 2

Jobs co-founded Apple in 1976 in his parents’ garage when he was only 21 years old. At the age of 23, he was already a millionaire. All of this happened after he dropped out of Reed College. In 1983 the Apple company was already a part of the Fortune 500. That same year he recruited John Sculley, head of Pepsi-Cola, to be Apple’s new chief executive. There is even a famous quote that Jobs said to Sculley when hiring: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”.

Jobs was known to be very harsh and a very difficult person to work with, but that was the quality he needed to create something as big as Apple. Nevertheless, soon enough things got a little more difficult. Jobs and Sculley had their own differences regarding how things should be handled at Apple, complaints came towards Jobs from his workers, and as a result, the Macintosh group was taken away from Jobs’ responsibilities. That left Jobs feeling powerless, and soon enough he resigned from Apple.

In 1985 Jobs suffered from a mid-life crisis, which actually motivated him to co-launch a new computer company, called “NeXT”. NeXT did pretty much what the Apple was supposed to do – it created a powerful computer. From this, it was clear that it wasn’t about the companies so much, but rather about the person that was creating them – Steve Jobs.

In 1996 Apple was not doing so well, but decided to acquire NeXT. Ironically, Jobs was returned to the company that he had built, and a year later became its CEO. The iPhone and iPad were about to come. I am sure you know the story of what happened then.

I hope that these short motivational stories really show you that no success is possible without failure, especially with the examples from these extreme cases. It is almost like a golden rule that in order to reach the top of the mountain, you need to struggle first. That is just how life is. And as said in the beginning, that what separates successful people from the ordinary is their will to try again and again, in spite of adversity and failure.

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Victor Step

Short Motivational Stories of Failure and Success That You Must Know
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