There is a Secret to Success: Learn from Three Legends

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Henry Ford once said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” and he knew what he was talking about. Ford’s first two automobile companies didn’t pan out. It wasn’t until his third venture that the world was introduced to the Model T and Ford’s numerous other innovations.

Ford is emblematic of the American Dream and the promise of second chances. Most success stories include setbacks. But it’s what you do to get back on track that counts. Here are three stories that remind us that the key to success is often perseverence.

1. After spending 3 years writing “A Time to Kill” while practicing law full-time, Grisham’s novel was rejected by dozens of agents and publishers. Finally, one publisher gave him a limited run of 5,000 hardback copies. “We couldn’t give them away,” recalls the author on his website.

Despite his initial struggles, the lawyer-turned-author continued writing and finished his second novel, “The Firm.” The story was picked up by a publisher as well as a movie studio, and launched Grisham’s career as a consistent best-selling author. He has sold more than 250 million books world-wide with nine of his books turned into hit movies.

2. Ever heard of Traf-o-Data? You’ve certainly heard of its founder, Bill Gates. The man behind tech giant Microsoft partnered with high school friends to launch the traffic data monitoring service in the 1970’s. The small company produced minor amounts of revenue and eventually failed. However, it gave Gates a little taste of the tech business that he aggressively pursued a few years later.

After dropping out of Harvard, Gates drew on experience at Traf-o-Data to create Microsoft. Today, the Washington-based company has a leadership position in the computer hardware and software industry with annual revenue close to $60 billion.

3. Consistently referred to as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan has also been enormously successful as a brand ambassador (ask any athlete about his line of footwear). While Michael Jordan is known for winning on and off the court, he has also dealt with this share of failures. In a 2006 web campaign for Nike, Michael Jordan talks about some of his biggest setbacks, including missing “more than 9,000 shots and… [losing] almost 300 games.” In high school, Jordan was passed over for the basketball team his sophomore year.

Despite the challenges he faced on the road to becoming a great athlete, Michael Jordan persevered and went on to receive numerous awards and honors, including five MVP awards and six NBA Finals MVP awards. Plus, Jordan was named Greatest North American Athlete of the 20th century by ESPN in 1999.

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YouTube: Michael Jordan “Failure” commercial