When kids make a mistake, it can be hard for them to look past the frustration and see the rewards that lie ahead. One way to keep your child from getting discouraged is to remind him or her that some of the world’s most successful people made big mistakes. In fact, it’s important that kids learn that the only way to succeed is by failing (sometimes more than once!).
Here are eight stories to share with your child about famous people who kept trying and learned from their failures:
- Rihanna, the R&B superstar, has achieved phenomenal success in the music world but has had her share of struggles, too, including a childhood affected by her father’s addiction to crack cocaine. Rihanna’s view of mistakes is reflected in a tattoo, which reads “Never a failure, always a lesson.” She says it reflects her personal philosophy: “It’s kind of my motto in life for everything. Instead of considering things to be mistakes, consider them lessons.”
- The Wright Brothers are known as the inventors of the airplane, but their big success came after lots of mistakes: The brothers built seven flying machines and crashed all of them more than once. (Fun fact: One of their early models would turn in the opposite direction they wanted it to!) But they learned from these setbacks. Each time they rebuilt an airplane, they were able to fix something that had gone wrong before.
- Michael Jordan, a basketball legend, didn’t make the cut when he was a sophomore in high school. “It was embarrassing not making that team,” he said, but he used that failure to motivate him. “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it, and that usually got me going again.”
- Abraham Lincoln, one of the most famous and accomplished U.S. presidents, experienced plenty of failures before he was elected to the nation’s highest office. When he was young, he opened a general store in Illinois, but the business failed and he had to declare bankruptcy. He also failed twice to get elected to the U.S. Senate.
- J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have sold hundreds of millions of copies, and she’s now one of the most successful authors of all time. But her book about the boy wizard, written when she was a poor single mother, was rejected by 12 publishers before she was finally able to sell it.
- Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka were the cofounders of the Sony Corporation, the electronics giant that makes popular products like PlayStation. The Sony partners made plenty of mistakes with one of their first products: an electric rice cooker that burned the rice instead of cooking it.
- Katie Couric was the first woman to anchor a U.S. network news program. Although she is a very successful journalist now, things didn’t look promising for her when she was younger. The president of CNN banned her from the air because of her high-pitched voice.
- Babe Ruth is regarded as one of our greatest baseball players. He hit 714 home runs during his career, but he struck out even more: 1,330 times, to be exact. Ruth viewed his mistakes in a positive light, though: “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
To read more about these successful “failures,” check out:
“Rihanna Inks Her New Motto Onto Her Chest,” OK magazine
“Famous Failures,’” The Wall Street Journal
“Michael Jordan Transcends Hoops,” ESPN.com
“One of Sony’s First Products: A Rice Cooker,” Sony Insider