History is rife with individuals who, after being told they would never succeed in life or achieve their goals, defied all the naysayers by accomplishing everything they had originally set out to do and more. From actors and athletes to writers and inventors, there are countless examples of dedication and perseverance that you can look to as a source of inspiration for your own endeavors.

To see what is really possible, here are four examples of individuals who ignored their critics that told them they would never achieve their goals and found success.

Charlie Chaplin’s Long Rise to Fame

“We think too much and feel too little.” – Charlie Chaplin

Arguably one of the most influential actors during the early years of film, Charlie Chaplin was no stranger to being told he would never accomplish anything. He grew up in a broken home, his parents separated when he was barely the age of three, his father was an alcoholic, his mother suffered from mental illness, and much of his childhood was wrought with hardship and poverty.
Years later, with dreams of starring in films, he attempted to pitch an act to Hollywood executives, but he was rejected on the spot because they felt the act itself was far too ridiculous to sell to the American public. Yet despite the hardships he faced and the rejections he received, he still went on to star in and direct countless iconic films that completely revolutionized the film industry.

Michael Jordan and His Early Failure

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Here’s an athlete who is known around the world as the greatest basketball player to ever take to the court. However, what many people might not know about Michael Jordan is that he tried out for his high school’s varsity basketball team during his sophomore year and failed to make the cut after being deemed too short to ever play at such a level. Unfazed by this rejection and determined to press on, he dedicated himself to the school’s junior varsity squad and trained nonstop until he was able to earn a spot on the varsity roster. It was through this perseverance in the face of adversity that he eventually went on to achieve NBA super stardom.

J.K. Rowling Turned Away by Numerous Publishers

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless of course you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all – in which you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a very recent example of immense success that would have never happened had the author listened to those who told her “no” early in her career. Prior to publishing the first book of the series, Rowling was living in poverty as a single mother suffering from depression. She pushed through all that, finishing the manuscript for the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
When she shopped the novel around, it was rejected outright by exactly twelve different publishers, all for a variety of different reasons. Only after sticking with it and continuing the search did her novel eventually find a publishing house that agreed to take it to market, thus setting the stage for the international phenomenon that her writing became soon after.

Thomas Edison Being Told Down by His Teacher

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

The light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera were all game-changing twentieth century creations of the inventor Thomas Edison, a man who was told very early on that he would never amount to anything. In school, one of his teacher’s explicitly said to Edison that he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He lasted only a few months in a formal educational setting, as his mother eventually took him out of school altogether and started home-schooling him instead. By ignoring his teacher’s criticism, Edison went on to carve out his spot as one of history’s most important inventors.

Being told you’ll never accomplish a particular goal you’ve been aspiring toward is no excuse to simply give up and go home. It was that exact attitude that many of the most influential people of the last several generations refused to give in to, allowing them to do many great things in their lives. All it takes is commitment not to throw it all away.

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