motivational stories

motivational stories


If you are looking for motivational stories about 50 Inspirational People who teach us to NEVER GIVE UP you have come to the right place!



In this post we are going to share the tales of 50 individuals who faced obstacle after obstacle in life and yet still managed to achieve great success in life.

I think it’s vital that you understand that on your way to success you are going to make mistakes – lots of them – and it’s OKAY!

In fact failure is to be expected and embraced because that is how we learn – from making errors and learning what does and doesn’t work.

We all make mistakes – it’s absolutely nothing to be embarrassed, anxious or nervous about.

I think it’s really important to change the way you look at failure and don’t let it stop you from living the life you dream about.


Here are the motivational stories of 50 inspiring individuals who did just that – refused to let failure stop them.


With courage these inspiring individuals went on to create and live the most amazing lives.

Feel free to share these stories with your children or anyone who needs this poignant reminder, for as Winston Churchill so wisely said:


Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts…





Motivational Story 1 -Thomas Edison


When he was in first grade his teachers expelled him from school and told his parents he was too stupid and mentally retarded and not suitable to receive an education.

Edison spent many hours experimenting in the family garage and tried 10,000 different experiments before he came up with a solution and invented the world’s first electric globe. In his lifetime he patented 1093 inventions.


Motivational Story 2 – Albert Einstein


Einstein didn’t start speaking until he was four years old. There was some concern on the part of his parents he might be somewhat backward.

During his school years he showed no special aptitude because of his dislike for rigid methods of instruction and he was cited by school officials as being disruptive.

He failed the entrance exam to a university a number of times and he made his great discoveries while working by day in a low-level clerical job.

Many today believe he was dyslexic and yet he is still widely considered to be one of the smartest individuals that ever lived.


Motivational Story 3 – Ray Kroc


At the age of 52 Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, mustered up enough courage in his new idea to re-mortgage his home and borrow lots of money.

Despite being plagued by years of health issues, including arthritis, diabetes and losing his bladder and most of his thyroid gland, he continued to persevere and believe in himself.

Today McDonalds is the second most recognizable name in the world, next to Coca Cola.


Motivational Story 4 – Colonel Sanders


At the age of 65 Colonel Sanders, a sixth grade dropout and the founder of KFC, drove across United States of America, restaurant to restaurant, often sleeping in his car, believing one day his “secret recipe” would pay off.

He was told no 1009 times before he sold his first piece of chicken. Imagine if he chose to give up after his 500th or 1000th rejection? But he didn’t give up, did he?


Motivational Story 5 -Elvis Presley


In 1954 Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after one performance. He told Presley: “you ain’t going nowhere son. You ought to go back to driving a truck.”

He went on to become one of the most significant icons of the 20th century and is often referred to as the “King of Rock and Roll.”


Motivational Story 6 – Marilyn Monroe


In 1944 Emmeline Snively, director of Blue Book Modelling Agency told the modelling hopeful (then still known by her real name Norma Jean Baker): “You’d better learn secretarial work or else get married.”

She went on to become one of the most iconic actresses of the 1950s and is still today considered to be a major pop culture icon.



Motivational Story 7 -The Beatles


The Beatles were rejected by Decca Records in 1962. Their feedback on their ability: “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on their way out.”

The Beatles went on to become widely regarded as the most influential act of the rock era, selling more than 178 million albums in the United States alone.


Motivational Story 8 – Malcolm Forbes

Even though he became the editor-in-chief and publisher of Forbes magazine (a business magazine, which a portion of was reportedly sold for $300 million in 2013) Forbes failed to even make the staff of the school newspaper as an undergraduate at Princeton University.


Motivational Story 9 – Al Pacino


Pacino was rejected for the part of Michael in “The Godfather” a number of times before he eventually won the role which went on to bring his international acclaim and recognition.


Motivational Story 10 – Sylvester Stallone


Stallone was turned down a thousand times by agents and was down to his last $600 before he found a company that would produce his first film Rocky.

In 1977 Stallone was nominated for two Academy Awards for Rocky – for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor. He became the third man in history to receive these two nominations for the same film.


Motivational Story 11 – Arnold Schwarzenegger


Schwarzenegger was told if he wanted to succeed as an actor he better learn to speak without an accent and change his name. He went on to gain worldwide game as a Hollywood action film icon.


Motivational Story 12 – Woody Allen

The Academy Award-winning writer, producer and director flunked motion picture production at New York University and the City College of New York. He also failed English at New York University.


Motivational Story 13 – Billy Joel


Joel was denied his high school diploma due to excessive absenteeism. He ran away from home and was arrested on suspicious of burglary.

The charges were dropped but a terrifying night in jail did little to help build a happy outlook on life. He attempted suicide by drinking furniture polish instead of bleach because he thought “it would taste better”.

When that didn’t solve his problem he committed himself to a mental ward at Meadowbrook Hospital for three weeks and quickly discovered he was quite sane.

The hospital visit strengthened his resolve to make it in rock and roll. He had many more failures before he finally succeeded.  To date he has sold more than 150 million albums.


Motivational Story 14 – Buddy Holly


In 1956 Holly was fired by Paul Cohen from Decca Records. Cohen called him “the biggest no-talent I have ever worked with’.

Twenty years later Rolling Stone magazine named Holly, along with Chuck Berry, a major influence on rock music during the Sixties.


Motivational Story 15 – J.K Rowling


Even though her Harry Potter brand is estimated to be worth $15 billion today, Rowling was at one point in her life a depressed, divorced, penniless, single mother raising a child on her own. Twelve publishers rejected her Harry Potter manuscript.

During a Harvard commencement speech, the author outlined the importance and value of failure. In her words: “I had failed on an epic scale.

An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.

The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success. Her books went on to sell more than 400 million copies and are the best-selling book series in history.


Motivational Story 16 -Louis L’Armour


The successful author of over 100 western novels with over 320 million copies sold received 350 rejections before he made his first sale


Motivational Story 17 -Walt Disney


Disney was turned down 302 times before he got financing for his dream of creating “the happiest place on Earth”, better known today as Disneyland.


Motivational Story 18 – Steve Jobs


Amazingly Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded – Apple.

He also failed with NeXT, another computer company and the Lisa computer.

When Jobs later returned to Apple, he led the business to become the most profitable company in the US.


Motivational Story 19 – Steven Spielberg


Steven Spielberg was rejected both times he applied to school at University of Southern California (USC).

He didn’t let that rejection stop him from pursuing his dreams of being a film director.

He now has a personal worth of $3 billion and the gross value from the films he has directed exceeds $9 billion.

He was later awarded an honorary degree from USC.


Motivational Story 20 – Oprah Winfrey


Despite now being a multi-billionaire Oprah Winfrey endured a difficult childhood, including abuse.

She was fired from one of her early television reporting jobs as “she was deemed not suitable for television.”

Oprah went on to become the undisputed queen of television with her talk show, “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

She is also viewed as an influential figure who continues to inspire people with her positive and uplifting messages.


Motivational Story 21 – Michael Jordan


Michael Jordan is widely considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time, however he was cut from his high school varsity basketball team during his sophomore year. That only inspired him to work harder.

In his words: “I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games.

On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot…and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life and that’s precisely why I succeed.”


Motivational Story 22 – Jim Carrey


When Carrey was a teenager he and his family worked as janitors and lived in a tent on their aunt’s lawn.

The first time he got onstage to do an act at Yuk Yuk’s comedy club he bombed big time.

When he returned two years later he was wonderful.

The now famous comedian and actor went on to star in many successful films and reportedly has a net worth of $150 million.


Motivational Story 23 – Burt Reynolds


In 1959 Reynolds was told by a Universal Pictures executive he had no talent. 

He went on to become a famous American actor, director and producer, starring in many television series and films.

He also won two Golden Globe Awards, one for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy and another for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture.


Motivational Story 24 – Lucille Ball


In 1927 Ball was told by the head instructor of John Murray Anderson Drama School: “Try any other profession. Any other.”

She went on to become a much-loved American actress and comedian, starring in numerous self-produced sitcoms including I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show.


Motivational Story 25 – Liv Ullman


The two-time Academy Award nominee failed an audition for the state theatre school in Norway. The judges told her she had no talent.


Motivational Story 26 – Clint Eastwood


In 1959 a Universal Pictures executive told Eastwood he had a chip on his tooth, his Adam’s apple sticks out too far and he talks too slow.

He went on to contribute to over 50 films as a famous American actor, film director, producer and composer, earning considerable critical praise.


Motivational Story 27 – Sidney Poitier


After his first audition, Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?”

Poitier vowed to show him that he could make it and went on to become the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.


Motivational Story 28 – Madonna


Before becoming Madonna the now world-famous singer was Madonna Louise Ciccone.

Her mother died of breast cancer when she was only five years old and she later dropped out of college to move to New York.

There she worked odd jobs to pay her rent including waitressing, dancing and working as a nude model.

She was fired from her jobs at Dunkin Donuts and as a hat check woman at the Russian Tea Room.

Still she never gave up her dream to sing and she succeeded.

Madonna has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide and is recognized as the best-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records.


Motivational Story 29 – Stephen King


King was raised in poverty and grew up as a paranoid, troubled child.

When he was two years old his father left his family by pretending he was going to buy a packet of cigarettes.

King was addicted to drugs and alcohol that he used to cope with the unhappiness he felt in his life.

His first book, Carrie was rejected 30 times and he proceeded to throw it in the trash.

It was his wife who retrieved it from the trash and encouraged him to try again. He eventually went on to publish 54 novels and nearly 200 short stories.

His books have sold more than 350 million copies, many of which have been adapted into films, miniseries, TV shows and comic books.


Motivational Story 30 –  Alexander Bell


When Bell invented the telephone in 1876, President Rutherford Hayes said: “That’s an amazing invention but who would ever want to use one of them?”



Motivational Story 31 – Ludwig Van Beethoven


Even though this German composer is considered to be the most famous and influential of all composers his music teacher once said of Beethoven “as a composer, he is hopeless.”

By his late twenties his hearing began to deteriorate and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf but still be continued to compose.

Many of his most admired works come from the last fifteen years of his life.


Motivational Story 32 – Vincent Van Gogh


During his lifetime this artist suffered from mental illness, failed relationships and committed suicide at the age of 37.

He only ever sold one painting during his life so he died thinking he was a failure, when in fact he is now known as the greatest artist that ever lived.

In his words: “if you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’ by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”


Motivational Story 33 – Edmund Hillary


In 1952 Hillary attempted to climb Mount Everest but failed.

After his failed attempt he made a fist and pointed to the mountain.

“Mount Everest you beat me the first time but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow but I’m still growing!”

One year later, on May 29, Hillary succeeded in becoming the first man to climb Mount Everest.


Motivational Story 34 – James Dyson


It took this British inventor five years and more than 5,000 failed prototypes before he finally developed the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner.

Then ten years later when no other manufacturers would produce his vacuum he decided to set up his own facility.

Now the Dyson is the best-selling vacuum in the world and has a net worth of almost $5 billion.


Motivational Story 35 – Fred Smith


“The concept is interesting and well-formed but in order to earn better than a C the idea must be feasible.”

This is the comment a Yale professor wrote on the paper written by Smith, proposing a reliable overnight delivery service.

FedEx, the shipping company, now has over 300,000 employees and as of 2015 revenue of over $47 billion dollars.


Motivational Story 36 – Mary Kay Ash


Mary Kay Ash had a life filled with struggles before building her cosmetics company into a multi-billion empire.

She sold books door to door while her husband served in World War 2 and when he returned from duty they divorced.

Ash was left with three children at a time when there was still a real stigma about being divorced.

She married again and planned a new business with her new husband but he died one month prior to the launch.

One month later, at age 45 and with a $5,000 investment from her oldest son, Ash finally launched her business Mary Kay Cosmetics.

It now has 300 million independent salespeople selling more than 200 products in 35 countries and a wholesale annual revenue of over $3 billion.


Motivational Story 37 – Bill Gates


Bill Gates, currently the richest man in the world (worth $76.6 billion in 2016), didn’t always seemed destined for success.

He was a Harvard school dropout and his first business Traf-O-Data was a true failure.

However, skill and a passion for computer programming kept him going and he later created the global empire called Microsoft.

In his own words: “Its fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”


Motivational Story 38 – Wilma Rudolph


At the age of 4 Rudolph contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever, leaving her with her left leg paralyzed.

Her mother was told she would never walk again.

At age 9 she removed her metal brace and by age 13 she had developed a rhythmic walk. That same year she decided to become a runner.

She entered every race and came in last.

Everyone told her to quit but she kept on running until one day she eventually won a race.

From then on she won every race and went on to win three Olympic gold medals.


Motivational Story 39 – Jack Andraka


When Andraka was 15 he has a crazy idea to create a diagnostic test for Pancreatic Cancer that was better than the tests developed by scientists, research labs and billion dollar pharmaceutical companies.

Jack wrote a proposal that was rejected by 199 research labs.

Thankfully the 200th research lab — at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore — accepted him and he went on to develop a Pancreatic Cancer test that was 100 times better and 26,000 times less expensive than the current test.

It has since saved thousands of lives.


40 – Theodor Seuss Geisel


There is a good chance you have read at least one of Dr. Seuss’s books.

His books, including The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham have sold over 600 million copies and been translated into more than 20 languages.

Yet Dr. Seuss’ first book To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street was rejected by 27 different publishers before he finally found someone who agreed to publish it.


Motivational Story 41 – Jack Canfield


Canfield was rejected by 144 publishers before he finally found a publisher for his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul.

When Jack told the publisher his goal was to sell 1.5 million books in the first 18 months, the publisher laughed and said he’d be lucky to sell 20,000.

That first book sold more than 8 million copies in America and 10 million copies around the world and this book brand is now worth $1 Billion.


Motivational Story 42 – Stan Smith


Smith is a former world number one American tennis player and two-time Grand Slam singles champion but it didn’t always seem as if he would succeed in this sport.

As a kid he tried to get a job as a ballboy but he was turned down because the organisers thought he was too clumsy and uncoordinated. He later won eight Davis Cups.


Motivational Story 43 – Charles Schultz


Even though he is now famous for his Peanuts comic strip, Schultz had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff.

Even after high school, the cartoonist didn’t have much luck, after applying and being rejected for a position working with Walt Disney.

He is now widely regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time and is cited as a major influence by many later cartoonists.


Motivational Story 44 – Babe Ruth


This American professional baseball player is well known for his impressive home run record – 714 homeruns during his career.

But it came with a pretty big price tag – 1330 strikeouts in total.

For decades he held this strikeout record and when asked to explain he simply said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”


Motivational Story 45 – H Macy


Even though his department store chain is now super successful, with almost 800 stores around the U.S, Macy didn’t always have it easy.

Macy actually started four retail dry goods stores, which were all failed businesses.

But he learnt from his mistakes and over time his new business grew.


Motivational Story 46 – Abraham Lincoln


Today Lincoln is remembered as one of the America’s greatest leaders but he too had his own fair share of failures.

For starters in his youth he went to war as a captain but was discharged from this command and re-enlisted as a private, which is the lowest of all military positions.

Some of his neighbors and family members thought he was lazy for all his “reading, scribbling, and writing” and believed he did it to avoid manual labor.

He started numerous businesses which failed and was defeated in many times in his run for public office before finally becoming the 16th US President.


Motivational Story 47 – Charles Darwin


This renowned scientist, who is best known for establishing that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, wasn’t always considered smart.

He gave up on having a medical career and was often reprimanded by his father for being lazy and too dreamy.

Darwin himself wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.”

Today Darwin is well-known for his scientific studies.


Motivational Story 48 – Chester Carlson


After seven long years of rejections a tiny business called Haloid Company purchased the rights to this inventor’s electrostatic paper-copying process. Haloid later became Xerox Corporation.

For years it seemed this was an invention nobody wanted yet because of Carlson’s commitment to his dream, the photo-copier eventually became a commonplace, essential piece of office equipment.


Motivational Story 49 – Akio Mortia


The name of this businessman may not ring a bell but his company will – Sony.

Their first product was an electric rice cooker that never even worked properly – it either produced undercooked or overcooked rice.

After selling only 100 units they moved on from this failure and went on create a multi-billion dollar company providing consumer electronics, video games and entertainment goods.


Motivational Story 50 – Nick Woodman


After finishing school Woodman started two companies that failed.

The first was a website selling electronic goods and the second was Funbug, a gaming and marketing platform that gave users the chance to win cash prizes.

Funbug was back by $3.9 million from investors and all of that money was lost.

After his second business failure Woodman took an extended surfing trip and realized he wanted to take videos while he was surfing.

That led to his next idea – cameras that make it easy for people to video while participating in activities.

Woodman and his future wife financed the business by selling shell necklaces they bought in Bali ($1.90) out of the trunk of their car to raise money for Nick’s business (they sold the necklaces for $60).

His mother also loaned him $35000 and finally GoPro was launched.

The company is now worth $1 billion.




These motivational stories remind us that it is totally normal to doubt yourself and question your worth and abilities.

Sure it’s not fun making mistakes and feeling scared.


But you know what is even scarier?


It’s not trying, not knowing what you could have achieved and not experiencing everything life has to offer you.

Especially when the opportunity is sitting there, waiting for you to act.

So be brave enough to live life to its fullest every day.


Self-confidence comes from within – from knowing failure won’t kill you.


It comes from knowing you will usually get better at things with time and practice and from knowing you are special.


You really are!


All of these things are true so remind yourself often of these facts especially if you want to achieve great things.

When you aren’t scared to do things, you open yourself and your life up to so many new experiences.

You learn and understand failure isn’t something to be upset about because something good comes out of every experience.

Even if you don’t come first or get exactly what you hoped for, you are doing something infinitely more important.

And that’s living and embracing life – the good, the bad and the not so pretty.

When you do these things without letting fear stop you, you show courage and grow more confident every day.


So once again – NEVER, EVER GIVE UP.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *