Don't Give Up: 3 Celebrities Famously Rejected Before They Succeeded

Climbing the ladder of success can be a scary and daunting experience. And as we climb that ladder some of the steps are going to snap. We’re going to be rejected. We’re going to slip, we may even fall. Rejection is a horrible, unflattering, and demotivating thing. But you can’t bury yourself under that rejection. You can’t stay demotivated. Some of the most successful people in business, film, writing, inventing, have been rejected but they kept going, they kept doing what they felt passionate about in order to succeed.

Here are three examples. You know their names, now here’s their story:


Stephen King

King’s debut novel Carrie that marked him as the writer of his generation was notoriously rejected a number of times. King’s disinterest and demotivation made him throw the opening of the novel into the bin. Luckily, his wife was there to get it out, brush it off, and tell him to continue. King finished the novel but continued to get rejected. He used to collect the rejection letters and pin them to the wall. One of the rejection letters read that the book would not sell, others that the book was bleak. King continued sending the novel out and, with time and patience, Carrie was picked up and published by Doubleday. To date, King has published over fifty novels, says that he no longer has to write for the money and has been deemed “the modern day Dickens”.  


Walt Disney 

I know what you’re thinking – who in their right mind would reject Walt Disney? Well, the answer is, lots of people. It’s estimated that Disney was turned down 300 times before he got funding for Disney World. Perhaps even more phenomenally, Disney was fired from writing for a newspaper because he ‘lacked imagination’ and ‘had no original ideas’. What do we take from Disney’s story? Well, we take that sometimes people get it wrong. Today, Walt Disney is seen as one of the most imaginative, exciting and original individuals the world has ever seen. His name is known by everyone, in everyone situation. Did he stop? Of course not. He had a dream. He knew what he wanted to do. A bit of rejection wasn’t going to stop him.


Thomas Edison

It seems almost blasphemous to know that Thomas Edison’s teachers called him “too stupid to learn anything.” If only they knew that the small boy they were calling “stupid” would in fact give us the light bulb. But these insults were not the only experience of rejection Edison had. He was fired from two jobs for being “un-productive”. However, in 1877, Edison invented the phonograph which gained him a significant amount of notice. With that success, he continued to invent and work but it wasn’t until 1878 that he created his most famous invention – the first commercially practical incandescent light bulb. Before this, however – before he was seen as an important and interesting inventor – it is said that he failed 1000 times before he got the light bulb right. He was asked by a reporter about this figure to which he replied: “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.”

There you have it. Three of the biggest names in writing, film and invention, rejected again and again before they became a success. The moral of this? Well, that’s obvious. Don’t ever give up. 




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