10 people who failed spectacularly … and followed their passion anyway

We all like to believe that we’ll find our passion, and the rest of our lives will magically fall into place. Money, fame or the soul-satisfying pleasure of waking up each day to a job we love will surely be our reward . . . won’t it?

Following your passion isn’t always that simple. Sometimes it’s filled with obstacles. Sometimes we even fail, miserably and often, before reaching the goal we desire. When that happens, do we keep fighting for that dream, keep following that passion—or do we find a new path? Only you can decide.
But don’t give up on your passion too early. Here are 10 well-known people who followed their passion, and despite rocky starts, are pretty happy they stuck with their dreams.

  1. When she was starting out, Lady Gaga was dropped by a major record label after just three months. Think they’re regretting that decision now?
  2. Steven Spielberg was rejected twice by the University of Southern California’s film school. Now who feels stupid?
  3. Bill Gates was a college dropout whose first business went down in flames. Then came Microsoft.
  4. Vincent van Gogh created hundreds of paintings, but he sold only one during his lifetime. On Wikipedia’s list of the most expensive paintings ever sold, there are seven Van Gogh paintings worth more than $727 million.
  5. Walt Disney started numerous businesses that failed. He was even fired once because he “lacked imagination.” Now his very name symbolizes imagination for millions of people.
  6. Stephen King‘s first book, Carrie, was rejected 30 times by publishers. Apparently, “quit” wasn’t a word in his dictionary.
  7. Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs during his career. He also held the record for the most strikeouts. Go big and go home!
  8. Before the Harry Potter book series hit it big, J.K. Rowling was severely depressed and living on welfare. Perhaps our lowest points are what keep us striving to be on top.
  9. An abusive childhood and career setbacks could not stop Oprah Winfrey from building a name for herself in film, television and publishing. Proof that the only opinion of you that matters is your own.
  10. A testing director’s early verdict on Fred Astaire: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.” Astaire went on to become one of Hollywood’s most beloved singers, dancers and actors. Isn’t it nice to know that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder?