Whether we feel discouraged or just need some inspiration to go on, not just surviving but thriving, success stories are an important part of human development. The age of enlightenment has sparked a need to connect with people and relate to their lives regardless of their pasts.
Knowing that some of the most successful people are also human is one way that inspires the current and future generations. If you feel stuck and you aren’t sure whether you can take one more step, here are some incredible stories that will help you press on no matter how tough a spot you’re in:
Frederick W. Smith
A lot of people don’t know the name, but many know and have used his company FedEx at least once, whether directly or indirectly. Were it not for his relentless spirit to get back up and rebuild, FedEx wouldn’t have existed. In 1973 when FedEx was just two years old, the company was deep in debt and almost going bankrupt. To make matters worse, Smith’s efforts to try and get loans and funding that would help bail the company out bore no fruits.
What did he do with the company’s last $5,000? He went to Las Vegas to play blackjack and ended up turning that into $27,000. Smith then used $24,000 of the money he won to cover the company’s fuel bill, and the company stayed alive for one more week! While that wasn’t the end of the company’s problems, Smith viewed that as a sign that the company would prevail. With that, he was motivated to push harder in his quest for funding and raised $11 more million that got FedEx back on its feet.
Smith isn’t the only one to fund his business with gambling PIMCO founder, Bill Gross also used gambling as a source of funding for his investments. So, if lady luck comes knocking on your door, the penny slots online that you play to blow off steam after a stressful day could be your key to opening new doors in your life. Heck, a lot of people who were not so affluent have been turned into overnight millionaires from playing the best slot machines!
Raised in abject poverty by her strict grandmother who was a maid in a white household, Oprah’s story has been retold countless times to inspire us never to give up. As if wearing dresses made from potato sacks was not enough, she experienced child sexual abuse at the hands of two family members and a family friend. By 14, she was pregnant, but the baby died in infancy. For much of her life, she had struggled with being overweight and had to try out a couple of diets to lose weight, only to gain it right back.
From a young age, Oprah had made up her mind that when she grew up, she was going to be famous. Fortunately, she was able to obtain a college degree which kick-started her career in journalism. Her career set the stage for talk shows as we know them today.
Before becoming the J Lo we love and admire today, Jennifer was just another girl with a dream to become a famous dancer and movie star, something that her parents were not enthusiastic about. After dropping out of college in the first semester and having a falling out with her parents, she had to move out and become homeless as she continued to sharpen her act albeit not earning any money at the time. As a Hispanic woman in Hollywood, critics tried to bring her down, and she struggled with self-esteem issues at the start of her career. Her resilience has made her who she is today, motivating us to believe in ourselves and put in the work to achieve our dreams.
Robert Downey Jr
The face of one of our favorite superheroes, Downey Jr has struggled with a long history of depression, drug abuse and doing prison time. He grew up with a father who has addiction problems and let him start using at only 6 years of age. After repeatedly failing at leaving the drugs behind, he finally entered a 12-month rehabilitation program that saw him get clean. This has opened doors for him, earning him roles such as Iron man. Just because you hit rock bottom, doesn’t mean you have to stay there.
Perry’s childhood was one marked by physical abuse, sexual abuse and poverty. This trauma was so severe that he changed his name from Emmitt Jr to Tyler to separate himself from his painful past. Describing his childhood as ‘living in hell’, Tyler has come a long way to overcome and thrive from his past. He has spent time in homeless shelters and lived in his car in pursuit of his dreams. That has obviously paid off, and after being repeatedly rejected by studios in Hollywood, he opened Tyler Perry Studios as soon as he got the chance. He keeps finding ways to contribute to the betterment of society through his life-strengthening productions.
Pakistani-born young activist Malala had a near-death experience when she was shot by the Taliban after speaking out against the ban on female education. During the four weeks that she was in a coma after being shot, doctors were not sure whether she would ever be able to walk or talk again.
Saved through the efforts of well-wishers, Malala went on to start the Malala Fund and received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014. Her memoir, ‘I am Malala’ sold millions of copies, and she has published more books. Her family was granted political asylum in the UK, and she remains an activist for girls’ education and was accepted to Oxford University for a Political Science Degree.
One Step at a Time
As intellectual beings, we tend to get too much into our heads and forget what life is all about. We are here for a moment and disappear the next, and the only thing we can leave behind are memories of what we were, what we achieved. Giving up will not get us there. Why not take one step at a time and press on despite the challenges we are facing?
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Last modified: April 2, 2021