Great Leaders Who Overcame Huge Obstacles

overcomingYou may have heard the saying, “If you get knocked down; get back up and try again.” Not everyone on top today got there by having success after success. Many people face obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others. In fact, the greatest triumphs often come from situations that seem overwhelmingly awful. The way in which you respond to those adversities can be seen as victories themselves. People who have encountered challenges may agree that the factors in overcoming obstacles are determination, focus, and self-discipline.

For these incredible leaders the obstacle was the only way.


Thomas Edison failed 9,000 times before creating the lightbulb. When asked by a newspaper reporter if he felt like a failure, and if he should give up after having gone through 9,000 failed attempts, Edison said, “Why should I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I know definitely over 9,000 ways an electric lightbulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”

“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”


The bag-less vacuum cleaner mogul, Sir James Dyson created 5,127 failed vacuum prototypes before achieving success. After being turned down by distributors and manufacturers several years after he successfully completed the final prototype, Dyson formed his own company to market the product.

“There are countless times an inventor can give up on an idea. By the time I made my 15th prototype, my third child was born. By 2,627, my wife and I were really counting our pennies. By 3,727, my wife was giving art lessons for some extra cash. These were tough times, but each failure brought me closer to solving the problem” Dyson said.


J.K. Rowling was a single mom living on welfare when she began writing the first Harry Potter novel. She sold the first edition to the book for $4,000. Today, Rowling is the first billionaire novelist.

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default,” she said.

We all face hardship. These leaders became great by never giving up. When faced with difficult obstacles, they ultimately improved their products and, while in the process, became great leaders and inventors in their fields. Whether you’re a job seeker or you just landed your first job, you will face obstacles in your career. How you overcome them will shape you and help lead you to success.

Have you had a time you’ve overcame huge obstacles? Let us know in the comment section below.

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