Diane Munoz is a counselor, blogger, and hardcore Ravenclaw dedicated to helping teens with anxiety overcome their fears so they can become confident, successful women.

5 Successful "Failures” to Inspire You

5 Successful "Failures” to Inspire You

Do you ever worry that failure will hold you back from the life you dream of? No way! Here are 5 celebrities who became wildly successful after some truly hardcore failures.

5 Successful "Failures" to Inspire You | dianemunoz.com

Like a lot of college freshman, I was a pre-med student. All of my electives went to excruciating classes like Calculus and so many sections of Chemistry. And I did fine with it. Okay, I may have broken the record for chemical burns at our lab (seriously!), but I passed all of my classes and managed not to injure anyone else. My sophomore year though, everything changed.

Enter my nemesis: Organic Chemistry. The professor did not explain concepts well. He was condescending. And he skipped around in the book, so there was no way to supplement what was being taught in class. Despite my best efforts, by Thanksgiving, I had a D in the class. Concluding that I just wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor, I tearfully submitted a withdrawal form and said good-bye to my dream of wearing a white coat.  

The next semester, I ran into a guy from my cohort. “Where did you go?” he asked. I admitted that I had to drop out because I had a D in Organic Chem. He looked confused. “We all had D’s,” he said. “They had to curve it, so we got a B for our final grade. Wait, you seriously dropped out because of one class? Why didn’t you just take a different section?” I was stunned. I had no idea that was an option or that anyone else had been struggling. I made a hasty exit (and ran off to cry).

I share this story because it was a huge wake up call for me. That was the first time I had ever failed at something. If you’re the smart, perfectionist type, you might be able to relate. Maybe things have come fairly easy to you in school so far. I’m sorry to tell you, but as the competition gets tougher, that will likely change someday. I want you to be ready so you don’t give up like I did.

So, I’ve gathered some inspiration for you. Here are 5 examples of real life success stories that definitely didn’t start out that way. These aren’t people who were simply born to be the best. Nope. These are people who clawed their way to the top despite repeated failure and criticism. Hopefully, when your first failure comes, you’ll remember these stories and keep climbing too.

Katy Perry quote | 5 Successful Failures to Inspire You | dianemunoz.com

Successful Failure #1: Katy Perry

Did you know that Katy Perry dropped out of high school to pursue her singing career? And her first album only sold 200 copies. Can you imagine what her friends and family must have said about that? I personally would have gotten my GED, a job at the mall, and moved back in with my parents. But Katy moved to LA and continued to record. She was dropped from 3 labels, but she STILL didn’t give up. Despite being completely broke, she continued to record until she got signed again and finally released her first hit single “I Kissed a Girl” 5 years after her first failed album.

Related: 7 Secrets to Raising Your Daughter to Believe in Herself

Jay-Z quote | 5 Successful Failures to Inspire You | dianemunoz.com

Successful Failure #2: Jay-Z

When Jay-Z first started out, no record label would sign him, even after an appearance on MTV. I would have taken this as a sign that I just wasn’t good enough, but I’m not Jay-Z. Nope, Jay-Z just started his own record company with two of his friends. And his debut album went platinum. He of course went on to snag countless No. 1 albums, singles, and Grammy nominations. As if that wasn’t enough, Jay-Z has also enjoyed monumental success in business as well. All of this from a kid who couldn’t land a record deal.

Related: The Surprising Skill You NEED to Have to Be a Success

Oprah Winfrey quote | 5 Successful Failures to Inspire You | dianemunoz.com

Successful Failure #3: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey, the undisputed queen of talk shows, was fired from her first TV job because she was “unfit for television”. I don’t know about you, but I would have cried and gotten a job in a nice office somewhere after that kind of review. But being the boss that she is, Oprah kept at. She went on to become an incredibly successful TV host, actress, producer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. But sure, we’ll go with “unfit for television”.

Walt Disney quote | 5 Successful Failures to Inspire You | dianemunoz.com

Successful Failure #4: Walt Disney

Walt Disney was actually fired from his job at a newspaper because, get this, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. (Are you seeing a pattern here? Haters have no idea what they’re talking about!) Disney went on to start, and fail, several businesses before he finally achieved massive success with his animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Can you imagine if he had listened to that fool and gotten a job as a salesman or something?

Related: 7 Mantras for Success Every Ambitious Girl Should Live By

JK Rowling quote | 5 Successful Failures to Inspire You | dianemunoz.com

Successful Failure #5: J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling describes herself as a depressed, broke, unemployed, single mother on welfare when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. If you can believe it, Harry Potter was actually REJECTED by all 12 major publishers. Can you imagine? I would have tearfully taken a job at a diner after the FIRST rejection. But not Rowling. She continued to submit her book until a small publishing house finally accepted it. And good thing she did, because I can’t imagine living in a world without Harry Potter!

Related: Beginner's Guide: How to Fail the Right Way (Seriously!)


We like to think that success is bestowed upon the smartest or the most talented. But in reality, success is taken by the people to won’t accept any other outcome. With persistence and hard work, they BECOME the best. So remember, if you fail, or if people tell you that you aren’t good enough, you’re in good company. Don’t quit until you get what you want!

Do you know someone who has a fear of failure? Share this post!

5 Successful Failures to Inspire You | dianemunoz.com
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