You probably read “The Cat in the Hat” as a child and other books by the inimitable Dr. Seuss. It is inconceivable that his first book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” almost did not see the light of day. Publishers rejected the manuscript 27 times, and Geisel almost burned it in frustration.
A publishing house thankfully came to the rescue at the last minute, with the book becoming an instant bestseller. Dr. Seuss’s books have since become a global favorite for children and the young at heart. More than 600 million copies of his books have been sold to date.
The story of J.K. Rowling is a testament to resilience. Before Harry Potter became a wildly popular phenomenon, Rowling was a divorced mother who attended school and lived on welfare. While in survival mode, she had a big idea in 1991 and tried writing a novel in her spare time.
By then, she believed she had failed at everything and was diagnosed with clinical depression. Writing kept her going. In 1995, she completed the manuscript for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." After 12 rejections, a literary house called Bloomsbury took a chance on her in 1996. By 2004, Rowling had legions of fans and had become the first author to earn billions through book writing.
Being a genius does not come easy, not even for Albert Einstein. He suffered from severe speech deformities as a child, leading people to believe he was disabled. Einstein did not thrive in a traditional school environment. He tried rebelling against rote learning but failed. It was a similar story at every institution he sought admission into — a string of rejections, even though he was brilliant at physics and math.
Not willing to admit defeat, Einstein decided to buckle down and learn the system. He applied to Zurich Polytechnic and was accepted a second time. He became the world’s leading theoretical physicist, a Nobel Prize winner, and the undisputed genius of the modern era.
Some of George Lucas’s early films bombed spectacularly, leading to massive financial losses. Even the prolific Star Wars franchise almost never made it to the big screen. George Lucas took the movie to three major studios: Universal, Disney, and United Artists, only to face rejection from all three. 20th Century Fox came to the film's rescue, hoping the film would turn out like "American Graffiti," one of Lucas's more successful films.
Getting a studio to support the film was only half the battle. While filming Star Wars, nobody understood Lucas’ vision, causing friction among the cast, crew, and executives. Lucas persisted, and Star Wars became the highest-grossing film in history, surpassing the wildly popular "E.T." at the time.
Harland David Sanders
Harland David Sanders was 65 years old when his restaurant business failed, leaving him bankrupt. He found himself having to start from scratch at a time when most of us dream of retirement. Sanders may have suffered colossal losses, but he still had his secret fried chicken recipe.
He drove around, begging restaurant owners to use his fried chicken recipe. All he asked for in return was a nickel commission for every piece of chicken sold. Sanders faced rejection 1009 (!) times before a restaurant agreed to use the recipe, calling it Kentucky Fried Chicken. Colonel Sanders is one of the world’s most iconic figures today and proof that you’re never too old to start again and succeed.