We all have our own unique understanding of what success means and who successful people are. Although many of us attribute success to money and fame, the path to success is unique for all. We can blame this notion on how we get to know the story of successful people in the first place. As a straight-A student with a shiny university degree, you may well be successful, but that’s not always a guarantee.
Simply put, all we need is a fresh take on success. Most stories of successful people have trained us to believe that without “proper” education, our chances of success are slim. Yet we see many examples of successful people who weren’t bright students – and many who didn’t even finish school!
Walt Disney, Elton John, James Cameron, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs all have one thing in common. Apart from being famous and successful people, they’re all school/college dropouts.
Here are some inspiring stories of famous people who were not so successful in school.
1. Cameron Diaz
The star of Bad Teacher and The Other Woman, Cameron Diaz, has had one of the most consistent acting careers. She became famous with 1994’s ‘The Mask.’ She roughly made $200 million with a low budget film. And retained her Forbes’ Top-Earning Actress title 20 years later, and the ‘successful people’ title in our collective consciousness. Did you know that Diaz had a challenging school experience and dropped out at 16 to pursue a modeling career?
So as the story of successful people goes: if you have a dream, by all means, pursue that dream!
2. Drew Barrymore
A successful actress-turned producer/business person, Drew Barrymore had a tragic past, not unlike most successful people. Drew was almost nine when her parents split. She began going to nightclubs with her mum 4-5 times a week. Inevitably, she ended up in rehab at the young age of 13 after which she decided not to continue school. She starred in films like Donnie Darko and 50 First Dates. And later became one of Hollywood’s top best-known actresses after facing all these odds. Drew is also an Ambassador Against Hunger for the UN World Food Programme.
Here’s the lesson from this story of successful people! Overcoming toxic parental issues and building a life from scratch is possible!
3. John Lennon
''You may say I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will be as one'' -John Lennon
Yes, we’re talking about a story of successful people that practically everyone knows! Lennon received the title of the 5th greatest singer of all time by the Rolling Stone Magazine. But it wasn’t all good, and he wasn’t a top achiever either.
He was a troublemaker at school and failed the O-level examinations. After being accepted into the Liverpool College of Art with incredible difficulty, he soon gained a reputation for disrupting classes and being undisciplined.
He even failed his exam and was thrown out of the college. Later in life he became one of the most successful people in the 60s up until now. He formed The Beatles and had 25 number-one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart as a writer, co-writer or performer.
So no matter how you act out when you’re facing adversity, keep your art alive!
4. Sir Richard Branson
When Richard was young, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. But now he calls dyslexia his ‘greatest strength.’ Richard Branson is perhaps the most famous school dropout in recent history of successful people. He left school at the age of 16 to start a magazine called ‘Student.’ After starting this successfully, his headmaster said,
“Congratulations, Branson, I predict that you will either become a millionaire or go to prison.”
Branson later formed the ‘Virgin Records’ and the ‘Virgin Group,’ an amalgamation of hundreds of companies. He also created the ‘Virgin Atlantic’ worth about $6 billion. Looking back on the headmaster’s comment, Branson said,
“That was quite a startling prediction of him, but in some respects, he was correct on both counts!”
So as this story of successful people goes, the aim is to not let any ‘shortcomings’ hold you back when it comes to going after what you want in life!
So you can fail a couple of exams, or college completely, and still be successful. We are not saying that flunking college is a recipe for success, but it is not the end of the world. You still have a future, and many opportunities in life will come along.
Successful people rarely have a smooth run. You can argue that the preconditions for success are hurdles along the way that help you build resilience, strength, and deep fortitude.
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