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Some Great People... Who Weren’t Considered Great

Updated on October 22, 2011

The secret of life," as Paulo Coelho puts it ,"is to fall seven times and get up eight times." Success requires determination and never-wavering self-confidence. It does not matter what the world says about you, it is you who have to be perseverant, hopeful and have faith in yourself. Let's look at the failures and shortcomings of some renowned personalities, and how they eventually succeeded.


Ludwig van Beethoven is considered the greatest Western composer of all time. He handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his techniques. His teacher called him "hopeless" as a composer.

Charles Darwin, father of the Theory of Evolution gave up a medical career and was told by his father, "You care for nothing but shooting dogs and rat catching." In his autobiography, Darwin wrote, "I was considered by all my masters and by my father a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard in intellect."

Walt Disney, the famous American cartoonist and film producer was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas. Walt Disney also went bankrupt several times before he built the Disney Land.

Abraham Lincoln became one of the greatest presidents in the history of the USA. Born into poverty, Lincoln was faced with defeat throughout his life. He lost eight elections, failed twice in business and suffered from a nervous breakdown.

Isaac Newton, known as the greatest mathematician of all time, derived the law of universal gravitation, invented the branch of mathematics called calculus, and performed experiments investigating the nature of light and colour. He did very poorly in grad school.

Leo Tolstoy, the Russian writer whose psychologically and morally complex novels are regarded as masterpieces of realistic fiction flunked in college. He was described as "both unable and unwilling to learn."

Albert Einstein, the father of "Theory of Relativity" which altered mankind's fundamental concepts of space and time did not speak until he was four years old and didn't read until he was seven. His teacher described him as "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams." He was expelled and was refused admission to Zurich Polytechnic School.

Winston Churchill is widely regarded as the greatest British leader of the 20th century. Churchill is celebrated for his leadership during World War II (1939-1945), one of the most desperate struggles in British history. He failed sixth grade. He did not become Prime Minister of England until he was 62, only after a lifetime of defeats and setbacks. His greatest contributions came when he was a senior citizen.


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      karthik 9 years ago

      excellent keep it up

    • hassam profile image

      hassam 9 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks lucky for you continued admiration

    • Lucky Dog profile image

      Lucky Dog 9 years ago

      Nice work!

    • vrajavala profile image

      vrajavala 9 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      Nice hub. i didn't know about Churchill Albert Einstein, it is believed, was autistic.