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Top 10 Inspirational Success Stories to Keep You Striving For Your Dreams

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Best Success Stories

Success, it’s something we all strive for in some form or fashion, but what is it?  What is success?  There are multiple definitions these days.  However, there seems to be just one common thread that most people do agree on about success.  And that is this, that success is a biproduct of persisting in the face of failure.  So, that is what we hope to share with you on this page, inspirational success stories that clearly reveal the road commonly travelled by people who have achieved staggering success.

Our purpose in sharing these success stories is that they may encourage you to keep striving towards your dreams, and keep you believing that achieving the “impossible” is actually possible.

With that being said, here are the top success stories to inspire you to succeed in the face of failure, setbacks, and obstacles. If you are ready to be inspired, let’s dive in.

Inspiring Success Stories to Help You Succeed

Top Inspirational Success Stories

1. Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone has one of the most inspiring success stories. Before he made it big, he was essentially a starving artist. For many years after during and after his college years, he worked odd jobs to pay the bill while simultaneously taking on any acting roles he could find to keep his dreams of becoming a successful actor alive.

It was a struggle that Sylvester would endure for many years, seven in fact. Throughout all of those seven challenging years, Sylvester would gain a few small roles in a handful of movies, but nothing grand enough to get his career launched. During those seven long years of striving, he came face-to-face with near poverty. Getting so desperate for money he at one point had to sell his wife’s jewelry out of desperation for money. He even had to sell his dog because he couldn’t keep him fed. And to top it all off, there came a point where Sylvester was homeless, and had to sleep outside for a number of days.

But, his days of struggle as an aspiring actor would not last forever. After facing seemingly insurmountable odds for over seven years, he would finally get his big break. And this break would come after he managed to get a script he wrote in a three day flurry of inspiration in front of two big-shot directors in Hollywood. It was this defining moment that would turn the tides for Sylvester Stallone, and his carreer would skyrocket after he negotiated the lead role in the film that would come to be known as ‘Rocky’.

Success eventually comes to those who always dream of her. For a more complete account of Sylvester Stallone’s inspiring success story, you can find it here.

Sylvester Stallone Success Story Quote

2. Arnold Schwarzenegger

Considering Arnold Schwarzenegger is the epitome of the self-made man, we wouldn’t dare exclude him from our success stories collection. Having been born and raised in Austria, at a time where it was still healing from it’s defeat in World War II, the odds were already stacked against Arnold. He grew up in a climate where alcoholism was rampant, where defeatism was the norm, and big dreaming was laughed at.

But Arnold didn’t care. He knew he didn’t want to live the traditional Austrian life his parents wanted for him, and he knew he wanted to move to America, the land of the free. As such, he hatched a plan to become a success in body-building, and then use that success to get into movies. And sure enough he did just that. He went on to fulfill his vision by becoming the youngest man to ever win a Mr. Universe competition, and then on to win five Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia titles.

After reaching what he set out to do in the sport of bodybuilding, he then went on to commit himself to the acting career he had always dreamed of. And sure enough, he would go on to conquer the film industry to the same degree that he conquered the body building world. Going on to star in multiple blockbuster movies that would gross over $3 billion, and earn him one of the most sizeable net worth’s in Hollywood.

You can find a more complete account of Arnold’s inspiring success story here.

Success Stories Arnold Quote

3. JK Rowling

J.K Rowling had a dream of becoming a writer early on. But, she would have to persist for many years before her dream of becoming a published author would materialize. Almost as soon as she decided to get to work on putting her ideas down on paper for her book, she would be sidetrack by her mother’s death. And the depression that would ensue left Rowling seeking out a job as a teacher in another country. Soon after, she would get married and have a child, which would delay her aspirations even further.

But things weren’t done goin off the rails for Rowling, as her marriage would abruptly end just one year after it began, leading her to be jobless with a child, and a barely surviving off of unemployment benefits. However, despite her challenges, Rowling would persist in the creation of her book. And she did so by seizing every spare moment she could while her child slept to write. Until finally the day came when she completed her manuscript.

Of course, even after Rowling finished her manuscript obstacles still remained. 12 different publishers would reject her novel, and she found herself almost ready to quit before her manuscript would eventually get accepted. And it was at that moment, that J.K. Rowling’s luck turned around. Now, J.K. Rowling is now one of the best selling authors of all time. In fact, she is the highest paid novelist in the world, with her books having been translated into over 80 different languages with over 500 million being sold. Clearly, persistence and patience pays off in the long run.

J.K. Rowling Success Story quote

4. Steven Spielberg

Most people don’t know this, but Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school three times. But he didn’t let those rejections stop him, and he kept applying till he got accepted.  Eventually Cal State, Long Beach would accept him into their film program.  He then leveraged his opportunity at Cal State to land an unpaid internship at Universal Studios. 

Of course, this internship wouldn’t last forever, but it lasted just long enough for him to learn how sneak in to the studios undetected so he could continually gather intel on what it would take to become successful in the business. 

Finally, the day would come that he managed to get a film he created in the hands of film executives. But, he had to first overcome film executives multiple attempts to make him give up. After being told that the film size was not the right size multiple times, and remaking the entire demo to the recommended sizes every time, the executives finally relented and gave him his film a shot. The movie would go on to win major awards, and solidified Steven Spielberg’s place within the industry.

Steven Spielberg is now one of the most influential film makers in history and one of the wealthiest filmmakers in the world. And out of all of our inspirational stories of success, his story in particular, shows, that if you knock long enough and hard enough, the doors of opportunity will eventually swing open for you.

Related: 5 Steps to Start Living Your Dreams

Steven Spielberg Idea Quote

5. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo grew up in a household that was barely getting by. As a child, he had to share a room with three of his siblings due to their meager financial situation. There were even times where they didn’t have enough money to buy a soccer ball just so he could play in the streets. But Ronaldo did not let his environment dictate his destiny.

No, instead he would find ways to play the sport he loved even without the ball. He would use bottles, rags, or pretty much anything he could find to make a makeshift ball just so he could play.  Eventually, he would get so good at soccer, that he would have to make the ultimate sacrifice at the age of 11 to move over 500 miles away from his family to train with a prestigious soccer academy. It’s a good thing he did too, because by doing so, he put himself on track to eventually become on of the best players in history.

Now Cristiano Ronaldo is known as the greatest Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football federation.  He is also considered by millions of soccer fans all across the globe to be the greatest of all time.  In addition to this, he is the first soccer player ever to earn over $1 billion dollars, while generating one of the largest net worth’s among professional athletes.  

If you’re looking to learn more about Cristiano’s inspiring success story, you’ll love this.

Cristiano Ronaldo Dream Quote

6. Lionel Messi

Since we are on the topic of soccer, we might as well mention Lionel Messi’s success story because it’s is every bit as inspiring.  Here’s why, at age of 11, Messi was cut from his soccer team because they thought he was too small to play.  And he was small, but it was because he had a growth hormone deficiency which made him a lot smaller than all the other kids his age.

Fortunately, Messi didn’t let this deter him.  Instead, he would place himself on a strict regimen where he would inject growth hormones into himself.  And he would go on to do inject himself with this hormone for seven days in one leg, and then seven days in the other. He would keep this routine up for six years

The great news is that Messi’s sacrifice and persistence paid off.  Because now, he is one of the highest paid soccer players with a staggering net worth, and is considered by legions of fans to be one of the best soccer players of all time due to his winning soccer’s highest achievement, ‘The Ballon d’Or’ six times.

Success requires sacrifice.

Messi Fight For Your Dream Quote

7. Michael Jordan

Since we mentioned the greatest of all time in soccer, we can’t leave out the man many consider to be the greatest of all time in basket ball. Now, most people aren’t’ aware of this, but when Michael Jordan was merely a sophomore in high school, he already had big dreams of being a great basketball player.  So he did something brash and tried out for the Varsity team.    But, things didn’t go his way and he got himself cut from the team.

This rejection hit Jordan especially hard because of his oversized dreams and expectations. In fact, the rejection hit him so hard he went home afterwards and cried in his closet.

Even though that rejection still bothered Jordan, he dusted himself off and went all in for the JV team.  He trained like no other in the off season and grew four extra inches. And the following year he tried out for the varsity team again. But this second time around, he made it. Not only did he make it, but he went on to become the team’s MVP, making the All-American Team, and eventually earned himself a college scholarship. And from there, well, you know the rest of the story. He went on to become the man who would score 32,292 points in a basketball career, acquire 6 NBA championships, collect 5 MVP titles, and come to be considered as the greatest basketball player of all time.

For all the success stories we’ve covered, this one clearly shows the importance of having great expectations, and resilience after rejection.

MJ Success Quote

8. Paulo Coelho

Over 30 years ago a book titled ‘The Alchemist’ was published and hardly anyone noticed. The author of this book was a man named Paulo Coelho, and he was told by the first bookseller to carry his book, that only one person bought a copy after it was released.  As bad as it was to hear about the grim results Coelho remained confident in his work.  He waited for better results to appear, but they were slow to come by as six months would pass before the next copy would be sold.  Oddly, the person who bought his first book was the same person who bought the second.

After that first year the publisher decided that the book was a flop and ended Coelho’s contract.  Fortunately, though, Coelho shrugged off that initial defeat.  He made up his mind to not give in, and so he doubled down to pursue his vision with even more fervor by finding another publisher.  Now finding this new publisher was no easy task, as he was met with rejection after rejection.  But, he finally did land that new publisher, and with it, another opportunity capture his dream.

From that point forward Coelho’s dreams started to come true.  At first, he only sold three thousand books.  But the sales kept trickling in, as he then sold ten thousand, and then 100 thousand, and on and on.  Coelho’s luck has yet to run out, as his books sales continue to grow year over year, with now over 150 million and counting copies of ‘The Alchemist’ having been sold. Even more staggering is the fact that he sold over 320 million books when counting all of his works.

Paulo Coelho’s story shows that if you truly want something bad enough, all the universe really will conspire to help you make that dream happen.

Related: Success Quotes for Overcoming Failure

Success Stories Paulo Coelho Quote

9. Abraham Lincoln

Most of us know of this great man because of what he did for our country. The Emancipation Proclamation which led to the abolition of slavery was a massive accomplishment. But, what most don’t realized about Abraham Lincoln, is that he has one of the most impressive rap sheets when it comes to overcoming defeat. In short, he has a list of failures and set backs so sizable, that you would hardly think it belonged to one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America.

Here’s a great example of the many failures Lincoln endured, with a few victories he managed to sprinkle in over his lifetime:

1832: Lost his job

1832: Defeated for legislature

1833: Failed in business

1834: Elected to legislature

1835: The woman he loved died

1836: Had a nervous breakdown

1838: Defeated for Speaker

1843: Defeated for nomination for Congress

1848: Lost re-nomination

1849: Reject for Land Officer

1854: Defeated for Senate

1856: Defeated for nomination for Vice-President

1858: Again defeated for Senate

1860: Elected for President of The United States of America

To be sure, Lincoln failed his way to success, and his recorded failures helps us realize the truth behind the Michael Jordan quote we mentioned earlier, and that is…that the key to success is through failure.

Abraham Lincoln Quote on Success

10. Tom Brady

One of our favorite inspirational stories of success comes from Tom Brady. Brady didn’t follow the typical athletic path into the NFL. While most athletes begin getting groomed for the sport by the 3rd grade, Tom Brady wouldn’t set foot onto the grid iron until the 9th grade. In fact, his debut into actually getting onto the football field didn’t come until his Sophomore year when the starting quarterback for the JV team quit. Fortunately for Brady, that opportunity helped him capture the starting Varsity QB role by the time his Junior year arrived.

After finding success at the high school level, Brady would eventually go on to become a Michigan Wolverine. But success wasn’t a given for Brady at this level. Nope, he had to earn it. In fact, Brady came into the program as an underdog, with seven other quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart. After almost requesting a transfer to another school, Brady’s determination would eventually win him the coveted starting position by the time he was a Junior.

The obstacles Brady would face continued on even into the Pros. Brady had his mind set to play in the pros, but there was very little interest in him during the draft. In fact, Brady barely made the draft, being chosen in the 6th round as the 199th pick. Brady was grossly underrated and underestimated by every coach in the league. His draft report from 2000 NFL draft actually stated the following qualities:

  • Poor Build | Skinny
  • Lacks Great Physical Stature and Strength
  • Lacks Mobility and Ability to Avoid The Rush
  • Lacks a Really Strong Arm
  • Can’t Drive The Ball Down Field
  • Doesn’t Throw a Really Tight Spiral
  • System-Type Player Who Can Get Exposed if Forced to Adlib
  • Gets Knocked Down Easily

Indeed, Tom brady was not the highest rated quarterback, he wasn’t the most well groomed for the sport, nor was he the best athlete, he didn’t have the best numbers, or even the best mechanics. However, Tom Brady did have the most heart and determination. And, through sheer willpower, he pushed himself to becoming one of the greatest football players of all times, proving his case with the following accolades:

  • Most NFL Championships By a Player (7x)
  • Most Games Won By a Quarterback
  • Most Games Played By a Quarterback
  • Most Combined Passing Yards
  • Most Touchdown Passes
  • Most 4th Quarter Comebacks
  • Best Touchdown to Interception Ratio
  • 5 Time Super Bowl MVP
  • 3 Time MVP of the NFL
  • 2 Time NFL All-Decade Team Player
  • Only Player to Win a Super Bowl for Both The AFC & NFC
Tom Brady Success Quote

Final Thoughts

Hopefully these success stories help you realize that while success may be elusive, it is not unattainable. We also hope that you’ve come to understand that success is both a journey and a destination. And that in order to achieve success, you’ll have to first go through your share of struggles, rejections, and even disasters.

So, keep your feet on the ground, your eyes on the prize, and keep moving towards your dreams no matter what. Do this, and your success will be just around the corner.

Till next time,

STRIVE

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