Consider This

Consider This

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Consider This

Effort only fully releases its reward after a person refuses to quit.

Napolean Hill

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.

B.C. Forbes

Consider this:

• Woody Allen—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.

• Leon Uris, author of the bestseller Exodus, failed high school English three times.

• When Lucille Ball began studying to be an actress in 1927, she was told by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School, “Try any other profession. Any other.”

• In 1959, a Universal Pictures executive dismissed Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds at the same meeting with the following statements. To Burt Reynolds: “You have no talent.” To Clint Eastwood: “You have a chip on your tooth, your Adam’s apple sticks out too far and you talk too slow.” As you no doubt know, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood went on to become big stars in the movie industry.

• In 1944, Emmeline Snively, director of the Blue Book Modeling Agency, told modeling hopeful Norma Jean Baker (Marilyn Monroe), “You’d better learn secretarial work or else get married.”

• Liv Ullman, who was nominated two times for the Academy Award for Best Actress, failed an audition for the state theater school in Norway. The judges told her she had no talent.

• Malcolm Forbes, the late editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, one of the most successful business publications in the world, failed to make the staff of the school newspaper when he was an undergraduate at Princeton University.

• In 1962, four nervous young musicians played their first record audition for the executives of the Decca Recording Company. The executives were not impressed. While turning down this British rock group called the Beatles, one executive said, “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out.”

• Paul Cohen, Nashville “Artists and Repertoire Man” for Decca Records, while firing Buddy Holly from the Decca label in 1956, called Holly “the biggest no-talent I ever worked with.” Twenty years later Rolling Stone called Holly, along with Chuck Berry, “the major influence on the rock music of the sixties.”

• In 1954, Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after one performance. He told Presley, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere . . . son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” Elvis Presley went on to become the most popular singer in America.

• When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, it did not ring off the hook with calls from potential backers. After making a demonstration call, President Rutherford Hayes said, “That’s an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?”

• Thomas Edison was probably the greatest inventor in American history. When he first attended school in Port Huron, Michigan, his teachers complained that he was “too slow” and hard to handle. As a result, Edison’s mother decided to take her son out of school and teach him at home. The young Edison was fascinated by science. At the age of 10 he had already set up his first chemistry laboratory. Edison’s inexhaustible energy and genius (which he reportedly defined as “1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration”) eventually produced in his lifetime more than 1,300 inventions.

• When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2,000 experiments before he got it to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process.”

• In the 1940s, another young inventor named Chester Carlson took his idea to 20 corporations, including some of the biggest in the country. They all turned him down. In 1947—after seven long years of rejections!—he finally got a tiny company in Rochester, New York, the Haloid Company, to purchase the rights to his electrostatic paper-copying process. Haloid became Xerox Corporation, and both it and Carlson became very rich.

• John Milton became blind at age 44. Sixteen years later he wrote the classic Paradise Lost.

• When Pablo Casals reached 95, a young reporter threw him the following question. “Mr. Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Mr. Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

• After years of progressive hearing loss, by age 46 German composer Ludwig van Beethoven had become completely deaf. Nevertheless, he wrote his greatest music, including five symphonies, during his later years.

• After having lost both legs in an air crash, British fighter pilot Douglas Bader rejoined the British Royal Air Force with two artificial limbs. During World War II he was captured by the Germans three times—and three times he escaped.

• After having his cancer-ridden leg amputated, young Canadian Terry Fox vowed to run on one leg from coast to coast the entire length of Canada to raise $1 million for cancer research. Forced to quit halfway when the cancer invaded his lungs, he and the foundation he started have raised over $20 million for cancer research.

• Wilma Rudolph was the 20th of 22 children. She was born prematurely and her survival was doubtful. When she was 4 years old, she contracted double pneumonia and scarlet fever, which left her with a paralyzed left leg. At age 9, she removed the metal leg brace she had been dependent on and began to walk without it. By 13 she had developed a rhythmic walk, which doctors said was a miracle. That same year she decided to become a runner. She entered a race and came in last. For the next few years every race she entered, she came in last. Everyone told her to quit, but she kept on running. One day she actually won a race. And then another. From then on she won every race she entered. Eventually this little girl, who was told she would never walk again, went on to win three Olympic gold medals.

My mother taught me very early to believe I could achieve any accomplishment I wanted to. The first was to walk without braces.

Wilma Rudolph

• Franklin D. Roosevelt was paralyzed by polio at the age of 39, and yet he went on to become one of America’s most beloved and influential leaders. He was elected president of the United States four times.

• Sarah Bernhardt, who is regarded by many as one of the greatest actresses who ever lived, had her leg amputated as a result of an injury when she was 70 years old, but she continued to act for the next eight years.

• Louis L’Amour, successful author of over 100 western novels with over 200 million copies in print, received 350 rejections before he made his first sale. He later became the first American novelist to receive a special congressional gold medal in recognition of his distinguished career as an author and contributor to the nation through his historically based works.

• In 1953, Julia Child and her two collaborators signed a publishing contract to produce a book tentatively titled French Cooking for the American Kitchen. Julia and her colleagues worked on the book for five years. The publisher rejected the 850-page manuscript. Child and her partners worked for another year totally revising the manuscript. Again the publisher rejected it. But Julia Child did not give up. She and her collaborators went back to work again, found a new publisher and in 1961—eight years after beginning—they published Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which has sold more than 1 million copies. In 1966, Time magazine featured Julia Child on its cover. Julia Child is still at the top of her field almost 30 years later.

• General Douglas MacArthur might never have gained power and fame without persistence. When he applied for admission to West Point, he was turned down, not once but twice. But he tried a third time, was accepted and marched into the history books.

• Abraham Lincoln entered the Blackhawk War as a captain. By the end of the war, he had been demoted to the rank of private.

• In 1952, Edmund Hillary attempted to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain then known to humans—29,000 feet straight up. A few weeks after his failed attempt, he was asked to address a group in England. Hillary walked to the edge of the stage, made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice, “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!” On May 29, only one year later, Edmund Hillary succeeded in becoming the first man to climb Mount Everest.

Jack Canfield

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