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Notable Successful Failures

"For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again."1

You have probably read how "Einstein was four years old before he could speak and seven before he could read. Isaac Newton did poorly in grade school. Beethoven's music teacher once said of him, 'As a composer he is hopeless.' When a boy, Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything. F.W. Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21, but his employers wouldn't let him wait on a customer because he 'didn't have enough sense.' A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he had 'no good ideas.' Enrico Caruso's music teacher told him, 'You can't sing. You have no voice at all.' And the director of the Imperial Opera in Vienna told Madame Schumann-Heink that she would never be a singer and advised her to buy a sewing machine.

Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college. Werner von Braun flunked ninth-grade algebra. Admiral Richard E. Byrd had been retired from the Navy as 'unfit for service' until he flew over both Poles. Louis Pasteur was rated as 'mediocre' in chemistry when he attended the Royal College. Abraham Lincoln entered the Black Hawk War as a captain and came out as a private. Louisa May Alcott was told by an editor that she could never write anything that had popular appeal. Fred Waring was once rejected for high school chorus. Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade."2

Speaking personally, my father wouldn't allow me to go to high school. I was only 13 when he made me go to work to earn my own way. But through faith in God and sensing His purpose for my life, hard work, and determination I not only graduated from college but also from graduate school. True, I started late, but I made it. You can too.

My advice to one and all is this: Don't allow your past to determine your future. Discover God's purpose for your life and, with His help, give it all you've got.

Remember, failure is an eventónot a person. When you stumble and fall (and you will from time to time), don't stay down. Get up, learn from your mistakes, and go on! Every day for the rest of your life commit and trust your life and way to God and He will be with you every step of the way.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, help me to know what Your plan and purpose for my life is. And give me the faith and insight to learn from my failures and the strength and courage to never give up until I become all that You envisioned for me to be, and to do all that You planned for me to do. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."

1. Proverbs 24:16 (NKJV).
2. Dr. Milton E, Larson, "Humbling Cases for Career Counselors," Phi Delta Kappan, February 1983. Volume LIV, No. 6; 374.


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.