Inspiration, motivation and faith can make a man who was told by doctors he will never walk again, to believe he would run in the Olympics someday.

Somehow, the thought that we are not the only ones going through some kind of difficulty seems to give us comfort as humans. This is one of the reasons why some have even turned motivation into a career. Helping people stand on their feet can be a fulfilling thing to do.

As a person who wants to succeed, you need to keep learning from people who succeeded against all odds. Success stories will help you sit up and prepare you mentally for the hurdles on the way to achieving your dreams.

Hopefully, these lives will make you rise and strive to do more. Below are people who persevered and pushed on until they became who they desired to be.

1. Abraham Lincoln

Are You Embarrassed by Your FAILURE? Read the failure stories of 20 successful people
Unexpected Success Stories That Will Inspire You

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman and Lawyer. He was also the 16th president of the United States up until he was assassinated in 1965. Abraham Lincoln is most famous for leading the country through the civil war; he led the great north to victory over the south and kept the country united.

However, Abraham Lincoln didn’t just become president by chance, in fact; he contested for elections and lost several times. Honest Abe, as he was fondly called, had a humble beginning. His father lost everything and his mother died when he was just nine.

His sister took care of him until their father remarried. Abraham soon moved out of the house and set out on his own, he did several jobs including a surveyor, postman and at a time, started splitting wood with an axe for a living. Abraham Lincoln later moved into politics.

He contested and won a seat in the Illinois legislature at the age of 25.

You might assume that it was happy ever after from that point but you will be wrong. It went downhill for young Abraham AGAIN. Abraham decided to borrow money from a friend to start a business, but by the end of the year, he was bankrupt and spent the next seventeen years of his life paying the arrears he owed.

In 1934, he decided to take a chance with politics again and against all odds he won the seat and did several terms.

In 1935, young Abraham could have sworn that all was in his favour after he was engaged to his sweetheart, but she died and his heart was broken again. Abraham had a complete nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

He, however, came back and won that seat in the senate. Abraham Lincoln was a man who disliked slavery not just because he didn’t want to compete economically with slaves, but also because he stood against the immorality of it. His church greatly opposed it too.

Abraham Lincoln story is one of a man with unwavering integrity. His success was due to his steadfast braveness to stand for what is right. Through Lincoln’s story, you will learn what it means to be persistent, consistent and morally upright.

“It is never the first strike on a hard rock that breaks it. It is as a result of several strikes. Do not give up”

2. Robert Downey Jr.

4 Unexpected Success Stories That Will Inspire You
4 Unexpected Success Stories That Will Inspire You

His Twitter biography is as brief as can be. 😀 

You know who I am.

In case you are one of the very few people that don’t know this man, then you must know the famous Iron Man from the movie; The Avengers. Before his glory days, Robert Downey experienced a lot of horrible, revolting things as a child, one that any child shouldn’t go through.

At a very young age, Robert was introduced to hard drugs by his father and he became addicted ever since. In the early days of his now successful career, Robert cleared tables at SoHo restaurants. However, this tagged failure is now one of the most expensive actors in Hollywood.

Robert Downey Jr was born on the Fourth of April, 1965. His father was also in the movie industry and was a filmmaker who gave Rob his first role at the age of five. Such a young age you would say.

However, Robert Senior had a murky secret, he was a drug addict and he gave Robert his first marijuana at the age of nine.

This became a huge problem for Robert over the years as the wind of life blew him to ugly places, and his addiction to drugs didn’t help matters. Robert saw a sinusoidal movement in his career. He was constantly in and out of rehab and prison for drug use and procession respectively.

This had a ricochet effect on his marriage which led to a divorce. He later remarried and with the help of his new wife, Robert started working to get himself back on track. He did just that when he got the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man 2007.

A movie starred by a struggling actor, and produced by an equally pugnacious marvel studio was a movie no one expected to be a blockbuster but it was. That single success in his career gave Robert Downey Jr purpose coupled with his adored performance by portraying famous detective Sherlock Holmes.

Robert touched the stars with his index finger or perhaps even became one, through what he did.

Today Robert Downey Jr is now one of the most celebrated actors of the decade, and quite expensive to hire as well.

Considering his background and the cards life dealt him, it is safe to say that Robert conquered. He beat addiction, depression and failure turned around and tried his luck again and his hard work paid off. Robert Downey Jr is proof that a major setback in life isn’t the end of the world; bad chapter does not define an entire book.

“It is ok to hit rock bottom once in a while, but getting back up or staying down is a choice.”

3. Eminem

4 Unexpected Success Stories That Will Inspire You
4 Unexpected Success Stories That Will Inspire You

Fifteenth time Grammy winner and one-time Oscar winner, Eminem, is one of the highest-selling musicians of all time. Eminem like Robert Downey Jr had a very rough childhood although not one where he was introduced to drugs by his father.

He claims to have experienced a physical and emotionally abusive childhood with his mother. Eminem’s mother was seventeen when she had the rapper and almost died in labour that lasted seventy-three hours. Eminem was raised by his single, inexperienced young mother who had a zilch idea on how to properly care and raise a kid in a majorly black neighbourhood.

For this reason, Eminem was constantly bullied by his peers and had nobody to fight for him but himself. Eminem never really knew his father and claims it affected him as a child. He failed ninth grade five times and finally gave up education to pursue a career in hip-hop music.

This is a life choice he doesn’t recommend for younger fans, yet, he saw succour in this transfusion and became a legend in the rap industry.

Eminem’s music career

Eminem’s first album was a commercial letdown; it was haughtily ignored by Djs who even advised the young rapper to consider switching his sound to rock and roll. Eminem says that this was exactly what inspired him to start doing moodier, more vulgar music. His follow up album, Marshal Mathers LP was well received in the hip hop market but that wasn’t really his big break.

Eminem’s success came after he went for a nationwide rap Olympics. Although he did not win but came second, he caught the attention of Interscope records who gave his demo to a Jimmy who then played the record for popular producer Dr Dre.

According to Dre, immediately he heard that particular record he asked his crew to find him (Eminem). “I had no idea he was white, I thought it was a black dude,” Dre said during an interview. Dr Dre was criticized by fellow African American industry friends for signing a Caucasian rapper from Detroit. However, this was the producer’s reply to the disparagement “I don’t care if you are purple, if you can kick it, then I am working with you”.

Read: The incredible life and achievement of Nick Vujicic

Under Dr Dre, Eminem saw a catapult-like impact on his career. His album was a major historical success in the market. The album broke records like the fastest-selling hip-hop album which was previously held by Snoop Dogg and the fastest-selling solo album that was then held by pop star Taylor Swift.

He went from a short-time white Detroit rapper to an all-time best Hip-Hop selling artiste. However, things went awry when Eminem admitted to his fans about his chronic use of drugs especially Methadone. One time, he was even rushed to the ER unit of a trauma centre where he was immediately placed on dialysis.

According to doctors, he was only two hours away from certain death because he nearly overdosed himself. That was pretty close and not many people get that chance. Fortunately, Eminem realised this miracle or luck and finally admitted that he was an addict. He decided that he was going to fight this addiction and checked himself into a rehab centre.

He also solicited the help of the most unlikely celebrity- Elton John. Given that they both shared a lot in common especially the experience of being bullied as kids. It was a good relationship, one that Eminem credits for helping him stay off drugs. In view of the fact that Elton also had similar problems in the past, it can be said that Eminem’s relationship with Elton John helped his fight with addiction.

It’s been over twenty years and Eminem has unswervingly remained sober and recently celebrated his forty-ninth birthday an abstemious man.

“The first step to thumping addiction is by first admitting that you are an addict” Eminem

4. Oprah Winfrey

Are You Embarrassed by Your FAILURE? Read the failure stories of 20 successful people
Are You Embarrassed by Your FAILURE? Read the failure stories of 20 successful people. Photo By: Lev Radin

Her show was the home to several celebrity emotional breakdowns, spilt secrets, rumours and the truth behind worldwide gossip. Oprah Winfrey show was the most talked about show in the ’90s. This poor little girl from rural Tennessee somehow, against all odds became the richest woman in the world.

Oprah Winfrey was born on January the ninth 1954 to an unwed teenage mother and spent most of her time on her grandmother’s farm in Mississippi. While her mother rummaged around for work. She claims to have received love and support from her grandmother and the church that raised her as a gifted child.

Her nightmares

The devil came knocking when Oprah was just six years old. She was taken to a man in Nashville Tennessee who she was told was her father. She was raised with an iron fist constantly and abused from age nine to thirteen. Broken, lonely and lost Oprah found solace in reading books.

The Turning Point

Her intelligence grew with every book she read and with the help of a teacher, she secured a scholarship to a much better school where she excelled. She earned recognition for her love of on-stage performance, her spontaneity and her charming humour. She came into limelight after winning pageantry by answering questions brilliantly and was appointed host of a popular night show which later went on to become the Oprah Winfrey show.

The show was popular for having celebrities, politicians come to air their opinions, speak their truth and sometimes apologize to fans. When Oprah had Michael Jackson on the show, over a billion people tuned in to watch the live interview. When the same Michael passed in 2009, his mother also came on the show to spill some facts about her son in a very emotional interview, where fans praised the way Oprah handled the condition.

Read: Story of a roadside beggar turned lawyer

Being a success, she has won an Oscar, bought vehicles for all 217 members of her audience, rewarded her other audience with an all expense paid trip abroad, started a foundation, donated to women development and inspired young women like herself who struggled to reach the light at the end of the tunnel.

A true visionary and philanthropist, the sixty-five year old hung her Mic and has stayed away from too much media ever since. The curtains were closed on the show but the production company is still a formidable competitor in the industry.

“Be thankful for what you have; you will end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah Winfrey

I hope you feel inspired to do more despite what life throws at you. Success is a desire you must follow up with to overcome the fear of failure.



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Post Author: Chibuike Nwogbo

Nwogbo Chibuike is a student of Electronics and Computer engineering at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He started writing at the age of 10 by learning new things and writing about what he has learnt. Specifically, he likes the feeling of creating another world through writing. He is also a dedicated Christian.

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