Famous failures? – There are any number of sanctimonious motivational proverbs about opportunity disguised as failure -- and, well, they often happen to be true. Just look at the lives of the following "failures" who, through determination and hard work, are now renowned for their achievements.
Abraham Lincoln – Two years before being elected president, Lincoln lost a Senate race to Stephen Douglas. As president, Lincoln was unpopular, even reviled, and it wasn't until after Gen. William T. Sherman took Atlanta in September 1864 that his re-election was assured.
Henry Ford – The auto magnate was a noted tinkerer of gasoline engines before going into business, but business did not start well. His first auto company went bankrupt; he left the second after clashing with a consultant. The third firm became the Ford Motor Co. we know today.
Winston Churchill – The World War II-era British prime minister struggled in grade school, was widely criticized as Chancellor of the Exchequer and spent many years in the political wilderness after being pushed out of government in 1929 -- not even his party wanted him back. He returned to government just after Germany's invasion of Poland and became prime minister in 1940. He was defeated in the 1945 elections but became prime minister again in 1951.
Fred Astaire – Though a successful dancer -- he and his sister Adele were stage stars -- his talent didn't immediately translate to Hollywood. According to legend, his screen test was dismissed with the criticism, "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little." The quote might be apocryphal, but the screen test was, apparently, terrible. Thanks to his charm and a fortuitous pairing with Ginger Rogers, however, he went on to decades of film success.