Category: Goals

Famous Failures – Walt Disney

It’s hard to believe that the “happiest place on earth” was the creation of someone who grew up in a household that was about as far from happy as you can image.

Meet Walt Disney. It’s another name that is well known throughout the world. Disney has come a long way from a cartoon mouse that Walt drew by hand to the latest Disney movie, Raya and the Last Dragon which was created with a budget of over 100 million dollars.

However, Disney never set out to become a household name. In fact, his beginnings have a whole lot more to do with escaping from a bad situation and trying to find his place in the world.

Walt Disney grew up with a father so cruel and abusive that Walt’s elder brothers couldn’t leave home soon enough. Walt himself made his escape before he was considered an adult. He tried to enlist in the army to fight in WWI but was rejected because of his age. So, he lied about his age in order to get a position as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross. When the Red Cross sent him to France, Walt arrived after the war had already ended.

With such rough beginnings, it should come as no surprise young Walt kept drawing as a way to hold onto his sanity in difficult times. After the war, he tried to make a living off his drawings, first as an apprentice to an animation studio, then later in a studio of his own, which he formed with his friend Ub Iwerks. That business failed due to the inability to gain customers. He then created an animation business with a co-worker by the name of Fred Harman, but that business went bankrupt within a few years.

Not one to be easily put off by failure, Disney dug in his heels and tried again. He headed for California, which he felt would become the epicenter for the movie industry, and set up shop. Here he had success with Oswald, a cartoon rabbit that the public loved. So did the unscrupulous people he was working with. His animators were stolen right out from under him, as was the very character he’d created.

Most people probably would have quit somewhere around here. Not Walt. He instead created a mouse named Mickey and kept going.

From there, Disney never rested. He tried his hand at a full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which became very successful. On the other hand, he also tried things that were considered ‘flops,’ such as Fantasia and Pinocchio. His was a career full of ups and downs. When he opened Disneyland, just about everything that could go wrong, did. Instead of throwing in the towel, Walt simply dug in and worked harder to make it the success he knew it could be.

The life of Walt Disney teaches us many things. First, it doesn’t matter where you begin. The point is to get started. Second, you can’t let disaster get you down. You simply need to pull yourself up and move on without looking back. No matter where you are in life, keep going. The only thing that can hold you back is you.

Famous Failures – Milton Hershey

Who knew a candy bar could lead to a success story?

Hershey chocolate has become a staple in countless people’s diet. Whether you are a person who loves the straight-up Hershey bar or are more of a Kit Kat or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup sort of person, there’s something on today’s market for every chocolate lover. Many of us can’t imagine life without chocolate, although only 150 years ago, only the rich could enjoy the delicious confection.

Chocolate had been around for centuries. But candy was something made by hand, taking a lot of time and effort to create which made it too expensive for most. Thankfully some people saw it didn’t have to be that way.

Meet Milton Hershey.

Hershey was the sort of guy who loved dessert. He also had a knack for sniffing out business opportunities. Unfortunately, most of his ideas didn’t work out very well. In fact, if it hadn’t been for relatives loaning him money – along with a good bit of luck coming his way – his caramel business would have died out in the 1880s.

Finally enjoying modest success, Hershey continued to keep an eye out for opportunity. He found a massive one in 1893.

Hershey noticed few were paying attention to a contraption at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A German chocolatier had a machine which could produce chocolate much more simply than current methods, with a lot less work. Although his field wasn’t chocolate, but caramel, Hershey knew a good idea when he saw one. He purchased the machine to adapt to his own work, thinking chocolate-covered caramels might be a good idea.

That didn’t work out exactly as he planned. What did, though, was making chocolate bars. Those candy bars took the world by storm. So much so, Hershey was approached in 1937 to come up with a bar that wouldn’t melt easily but could add nutrition to supplement soldiers’ diets overseas. As a result, during WWII, Hershey was making 24 million bars a week for the military!

After the war, Hershey’s success was secured. He branched out into other kinds of chocolate bars, continually trying new things and expanding production until Hershey’s became the successful company we know today.

Hershey might have been a failure initially, but he had a lot of drive and determination. When something didn’t work, he left behind, pursuing instead what did work. When he was approached to try something new, he immediately rose to the challenge. He asked, ‘how can I do this’ instead of focusing on ‘I’ve never done this before.’

To succeed in today’s world, you need the persistence of people like Milton Hershey. You should never turn your back on a lucky break. Most of all, you shouldn’t forget to embrace the sweet things in life. You’ll be amazed where they might take you!

Famous Failures – Henry Ford

Who you listen to has an incredible bearing on your success. Continually listen to the people around you who are always criticizing your ideas and dreams will hold you back from realizing those dreams. On the other hand, surrounding yourself with people who encourage you and challenge you to stretch is a surefire way to make progress in achieving your goals.

Henry Ford faced such a situation.

When you think of Ford, cars are probably the first thing that comes to mind. That or the process we have come to know as the assembly line. Despite the Ford brand being as dominate as it is today, Henry’s success was not immediate. In fact, he failed miserably twice before finally making a breakthrough and achieving his dream.

Ford was just twenty-three years old when he first discovered the wonders of the internal combustion engine. Fascinated, he immersed himself in the mechanics of it with the idea of attaching it to a horseless carriage. He even came up with a prototype that seemed extremely promising.

Unable to develop the project further on his own, Ford sought financing so he could take the automobile to the next level. He secured this reasonably quickly so his success should have been certain, right?

The problem lay in the prototype. The car he’d designed initially had too many parts that were difficult to obtain. He had to keep tweaking the design to make it into something able to go into production. In short, he took too long to get the desired results, and the financiers lost faith and backed out.

Undeterred, Henry Ford dug in and tried again. This time he focused more attention to the production aspects. He somehow convinced his backers to give him a second chance. They did, with the stipulation they could bring their own manager in on the project.

This also led to failure. Ford felt micromanaged by someone who didn’t understand his vision. When this second attempt fell apart, it could have been the end of his dream. He still believed in both the product and his ideas regarding production. Instead of listening to those who said it couldn’t be done, he hung in there. This time he searched for backers who came to see and buy in to his vision and were willing to allow him the freedom to act as he saw fit to make it a reality. This was the real beginning of the Model A Ford, which was the foundation of Ford’s success in automobiles.

Ford was a visionary in that he never allowed anyone else to stop him from doing what he knew he could. When someone or something stood in his way, he found a new way around the problem and surrounded himself with those who supported him. In the end, he succeeded through persistence.

You can, too. Align yourself with supporters, not naysayers. I’m not talking about conformists or lackeys. I’m referring to people who believe in you even if they can’t fully envision your dream. People who will challenge you, stretch you and force you out of your comfort zone. Surround yourself with people who support you and there is no limit to what you may achieve.

Famous Failures – Albert Einstein

Stupid. Failure. No good. Idiot.

Albert Einstein heard all these phrases about himself and more. Growing up was tough for young Einstein. He didn’t express himself well and he struggled in school. Even his teachers gave up on him, deciding that he was impossible to teach. Those around him considered him mentally retarded, and no one thought he would ever make anything of himself.


This doesn’t sound like an auspicious beginning for someone who is considered to be one of the greatest geniuses of all time, does it?

Einstein seemed to meet failure at every turn. He wished to attend the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology but had to take the entrance exam twice before he was admitted. Even then, his troubles weren’t over. His teachers laughed at his ideas, calling his doctoral dissertation “irrelevant and fanciful.” After college, no one thought much about him. He worked in a patent office. A situation which turned out to be perfect because the work was so mindless giving him plenty of time to think.

And think he did. A lot!

Albert Einstein used his extra time to work out several theories. In fact, he became so caught up in his ideas, he grew absent-minded and oblivious to the world around him. In the grand scheme of things, maybe it didn’t matter quite so much whether he forgot to wear socks with his shoes. The important thing was what he developed, what he created in those deep thoughts. From the Theory of Relativity to every one his subsequent theories, it soon became evident that Albert Einstein’s thoughts were considerable. So much so that he became a professor himself, and even won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

Imagine what his critics had to say about him then!

From Albert Einstein, we should learn not to let the world define us. No one truly knows what you’re capable of but you. Even if you don’t always express your ideas well, it doesn’t mean those ideas don’t have merit.

Albert Einstein is also an excellent example of what it means to do your own thing. His ideas didn’t mesh with the way people typically thought about the world. Even in his lifetime, not everyone saw things his way. This didn’t stop him from expressing himself and standing by what he said.

So be smart like Einstein. Don’t be afraid to share your ideas with the world. More importantly, never let anyone else tell you what you can do. That’s for you to show them.


Famous Failures Series – The Wright Brothers

When is the last time you flew in an airplane? (Thanks to Covid – it has probably been awhile!) How long did that trip take you? More importantly, how long would it have taken you to reach the same destination if you’d never flown at all?

Without Wilbur and Orville Wright, the world would be a very different place. But did you know the Wright Brothers, who revolutionized powered flight, never finished high school much less had a degree from college?

To the outside observer, the Wright Brothers didn’t look like much. They started out in an entirely different field from where they wound up. Initially their interest lay in newspapers and the printing process. In 1889 they built their own printing press involving components created from such diverse objects as junk iron, a gravestone, and even an old buggy top. For the next seven years they struggled, first to produce their own newspapers, and then as printers. The problem? They never could get community support on the newspapers they produced. Even their mechanical achievements failed them. Despite their designs in printing presses becoming better over the years, they never garnered the clientele to make a business out of that particular service.

In the end they abandoned printing completely. They were not defeated though, and turned their attention elsewhere – at the current bicycle craze. Even this enterprise took time. It took them more than two diligent years of hard work to create a bicycle design both lightweight and functional enough to become popular.

You probably know the rest. From there they turned their eyes to the skies. The same issues they’d had in bicycles they saw as being the problem with the current airships being developed: the problem lay in keeping the craft lightweight enough to attain altitude, while maintaining ease of control, with enough power to keep the plane in motion as it went. In short, they felt what was needed was a craft you could handle as easily as a bicycle in the air.

Again, the Wright Brothers had to dig in and prove themselves diligent. Early failures had them wanting to give up on more than one occasion. In 1903 they proved the idea was possible with their success at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

What can we learn from this story? First, your official education isn’t everything. The important thing is to keep learning, sometimes through trial and error.

Second, never give up. Failure is bound to happen. It’s what you do next that counts.

The Wright Brothers persisted, and because they did, they were able to attain new heights. So will you if you hang in there and keep going. Like the Wright Brother’s airplane, you’ll get your ideas off the ground in no time!

Simple Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Taking Action

Don’t fault yourself for being afraid of taking that big step–the massive action that needs to happen in order for you to realize your dream! It’s a natural response to moving out of your comfort zone. But while you shouldn’t rebuke yourself for feeling fearful, neither should you wallow in it so that you never get past it. When fear rears its ugly head, use these simple tactics to put it in perspective and move on.

Recognize fear is only a feeling

Fear can feel very, very real. But it’s only an emotion that survives and thrives when we dwell on it and start to believe it. The first step in mastering your fear of taking massive action is to remind yourself that fear is only an emotion – one that you can control.

Remember, everyone has experienced fear of failure

Most everyone experiences fear before they try something new. Think of the most successful person you know. Do you think they haven’t experienced fear of failure? Sure they have. And I’m sure they would tell you that. Everyone has experienced fear of failure, the fear of looking like a fool, the fear of losing friends when you become too famous, too wealthy, too thin, or too whatever. When a moment of panic comes over you, imagine your role model and remember that they too have experienced fear. But they moved through it anyway.

Take the first small step

We’ve all heard of Newton’s 1st Law of Motion: A body at rest tends to stay at rest, while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. When you notice that feeling of fear arising, consciously make the decision to take that first small step in spite of the fear. You will feel amazing after you have done that one little thing. The success of even a small accomplishment will give you the confidence to take the next step. You will realize that you can do it, and you’ll be excited to keep the momentum going. Fear will be replaced by enthusiasm!

Use a lifeline

Sometimes we recognize fear for what it is but can’t seem to get over the hurdle anyway. That’s the right time to call in some reinforcements. Reach out to a friend, colleague or family member who is totally on board with your goal. Buy them a cup of coffee and talk to them about your feelings. Use them as a sounding board, ask for their advice or just come out and ask for a pep talk! Choose to do this with a person who loves you and has faith that you can achieve your goal. That way you don’t need to worry about being embarrassed to tell them that fear has you in a paralyzing grip! They will support you through each step you take. Sometimes all we need to hear is a person we love and admire tell us it will be all right.

One final thing to consider:

Give thought to hiring a coach. A Life or Business Coach can help you identify the fear that may be temporarily paralyzing you. They can remind you of others who faced their fears head-on and became widely successful as a result. Your coach can help you identify that first small step, along with the subsequent ones that will enable to realize your goal. And, a coach can be that lifeline you can turn to whenever you need to lean on someone for support.