Beat Failure

Everybody fails some time in their life and it’s perfectly normal to feel yucky about it for a while. So go ahead and just hate yourself for one second.

Ok, that second is up!

Now read these stories and give it them the respect!

From Failure to Fame.

Success stories fill the media with glitz and pomp. But few know that behind every famous person is often a story of struggle and grit.


Colonel Harland Sanders ( Kentucky Fried Chicken)


We all know how widespread is the fame of Kentucky Fried Chicken, yet few know about the long and rocky road that Colonel Harland Sanders took to make his fortune. At the age of 40, in 1930, Sanders opened a restaurant in a gas station. In 1939 he owned a motel and restaurant but it was razed to the ground by fire. In 1940 he finally found the secret recipe for his chicken but the war started in 1942 and he had to sell his business. In 1955, another restaurant business failed because the roads leading to his restaurant was closed. Finally, after 25 years at the age of 65, Sanders set out to sell his franchised chicken recipe. He was rejected a total of 1009 times before a restaurant took up his franchise.



James Dyson

Image: https://www.lb.dyson.com

We see Dyson house-hold products all over the shops and they are often known to be innovative and effective equipment’s such as fans, hair-dryers, vacuum cleaners etc.

Few people know of the long and arduous journey that James Dyson took to create the first cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner based on the principle of cyclonic separation. In the late 1970’s, Dyson had the idea of using cyclonic separation to create a powerful vacuum cleaner. For 15 years, he worked on this product living on the meagre salary of his wife who was an art teacher. His prototype failed 5,127 times before it was accepted in 1991.

Today, James Dyson is the richest person in Britain and is worth S$6.5 billion dollars. As a PR of Singapore, he owns the largest bungalow in Bukit Timah worth S$45 million. Dyson Ltd which he owns fully has recently moved their HQ from Britain to Singapore.


Beyoncé Knowles-Carter 


Beyonce may seem to have it all to spring board into stardom. But her original group Girls Tyme faced many disappointments and trials both eternally and within group. The group took 8 years before changing their name to Destiny’s Child and then signing on to Columbia Records.


Sylvester Stallone

One of the richest and most powerful actors in Hollywood with a net worth of 400 million and appearing in 80 movies, Stallone started out in Hollywood sleeping in the bus terminal in New York City because he couldn’t afford rent. His biggest hurdle to lending a movie role was his snarling look and slurred speech. This was caused by a surgery that went wrong during his birth that caused a permanent paralysis on his face. Stallone was rejected 1500 times by the film industry. Finally, he wrote his own script for Rocky and sold it to a film producer for $325,000 with the condition that he did not act in the film. Stallone bargained down his price to $35,000 and a percentage of film sales so that he could take on the role of Rocky. The film was a smash hit grossing $200 million in the box office.



Katy Perry


Katy Perry dropped out of school at 15 years old to pursue music. At the age of 17 she cut a gospel record that sold only 200 copies before the label ceased operation. At the age of 20, she signed with another label, Java to work on her solo record, but the record company folded up and her record was dropped. Perry then signed with Columbia Records but before her record was completed she was dropped from the label. Finally in 2007, after 9 years, Perry signed with Capitol Records and released her hit song ‘I kissed a girl’.



Michael Jordon

This icon of Basketball was initially rejected by his Varsity Basketball team. He says, ”I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”.



JK Rowling


JK Rowling was the highest paid novelist in 2017 and made $54 million in 2018. Harry Porter novels have sold 500 million copies worldwide and gross $7.7 billion dollar. But before all this, Rowling struggled as a single mum suffering from depression when she first started writing the novel. It took her 5 years to complete the manuscript for ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ and was rejected by 12 major publishing houses before it was finally printed.


Harrison Ford


Harrison Ford fondly known for his roles in Indiana Jones and Star Wars is one of Hollywood’s most celebrated stars. He has won countless Academy Awards including the AFI Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute and the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his life-time contribution to the film industry. Yet when Ford first started out in Hollywood he was told by the studios that ‘’ he would never make it in this business’’. After 9 years of auditioning and at the age of 32, Ford finally landed the role of American Graffiti produced by George Lucas.


Jack Mah

Everyone knows Lazada, you’ve probably bought some stuff from this online store that is owned by Ali baba. But do you know the story behind the founder of Ali Baba?

Before Jack Mah founded Ali Baba he was a tour guide. He struggled to get into college, taking the National Chinese exam 3 times before he got in. He applied for Harvard Business School 10 times and was rejected all 10 times. He then applied to join the police force but they said he was ‘no good’. He even applied to work in KFC. 24 people applied for the same job and they accepted 23 people but did not accept Mah. If Jack Mah had been accepted by Harvard, or the Police, or KFC, he would probably not have started Ali Baba.

Today, Jack Mah is worth $42.1 billion and one of the wealthiest people in the world. Forbes magazine ranks him second place in the list of “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” and he is one of the ‘World’s Most Powerful People’.


These famous icons would not be here if they had given up and not persisted despite the consistent rejections. What made them continue to pursue their dream amidst their failures? Can we learn a thing or two to be like them?


Try this quiz to see if you have the mindset for success:

Have you done the quiz? Now total up all those answers which you marked as ‘True’ and those answers which you marked as ‘False’. If you’ve got more ‘True’ answers, chances are you are more of a fixed mindset person. If you have more ‘False’ answers then you are likely to have more of a Growth Mindset person.

So what’s the big deal about Fixed and Growth Mindsets?

What is Growth Mindset

Professor Carol Dweck from Stanford University has researched into the field of mindset psychology  and found that school students with growth mindsets did better than students with fixed mindsets.

Growth mindset is defined as a belief that intelligence can grow and change. Students with growth mindsets are likely to put in more effort to learn as they see setbacks as a necessary part of learning. Hence they are more likely to embrace challengers and bounce back faster after a failure.  For instance, growth-minded individuals perceive task setbacks as a necessary part of the learning process and they “bounce back” by increasing their motivational effort. Learners with growth mindset tend to embrace lifelong learning and the joy of incremental personal growth. In addition, they do not see their intelligence or personality as fixed traits. They will mobilize their learning resources without being defeated by the threat of failure.


Here are the traits of a growth mindset student:

Fixed mindset students do not like challengers as it makes them feel vulnerable. They tend to attribute their failure to the lack of intelligence and their weaknesses. Hence failure is seen as exposing their flaws. They tend to have negative labels on situation and people. E.g, Girls are bad at Maths.  They attach value and judgement on performance. E.g, if I fail it means I am not valuable as a person.


What does the Brain say about Growth Mindset

Recent Studies on the brain using electroencephalogram (EEG) shows this about Growth Mindset people.  EEG is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain.


Hence Growth Mindset students are able to learn more as they are open to receiving corrective feedback. They are intrinsically motivated (self-motivated) and do not need external reward to drive them. In the face of setbacks they are more resilient and able to face obstacles and challengers on their own.

But hey, don’t beat yourself up right now, Prof Dweck did say that we all have both fixed and growth mindset depending on the situation and context. Remember, it takes time to develop a growth mindset. Here’s how:


How to have a Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is about learning. Evaluating every piece of information. Solving problems and making improvements

  • Learn about your brain.

Know how the brain works. More importantly, understand how your brain works. How do you learn best, how              much sleep you need, when are you most alert and productive.


  • We all have fixed mindsets so be open to change.

Change can be hard. Most people hold on to a fixed mindset because at some point of time that mindset worked for them. It provided the self-esteem and identity that they needed. But that mindset may not always work

Why people won’t change.

– Some people want others to change but will not change themselves.

– Some people live in denial that anything is wrong and therefore do not need to change.

– Some have a fear of failure because they think that failure defines who they are.

Change has to be gradual, old unhelpful mindsets can be replaced by new mindsets when we keep thinking in a new way.


  • Understand what triggers your fixed mindset. E.g

– When you are challenged to do something new.

– When you face a dead end in a project.

– When you experience loss or failure.

– When someone is better than you.

  • Set your goal.


  • In the face of failure, stop licking your own wounds. Focus instead on your goal.


  • Have a plan.

– Write out a weekly or daily schedule of what you need to do to make those little steps to achieve your goal.


  • Find strategies that works.


  • Press on.

– Be honest about how you feel about the failure but do what you need to do to achieve your goal


  • Get help.

– Get feedback and help from people with relevant experience and are knowledgeable.


  • Don’t beat yourself when you slip-up. Learn from the experience and rework your plans and strategies.

Enjoy growing your brain and your success!




Dweck, C. (2017), Mindset, Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential. Robinson

Rhew. E, Piro.J,  Goolkasian. P, Cosentino. P,  & Palikara. P, (2018). The effects of a growth mindset on self-efficacy and motivation, Cogent Education, 5:1, 1-16,DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2018.1492337.

Ng B. (2018). The Neuroscience of Growth Mindset and Intrinsic Motivation. Brain sciences, 8(2), 20. doi:10.3390/brainsci8020020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836039/


Harrison Ford, Photo by Gage Skidmore. Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Ford

Beyonce, https://www.instagram.com/beyonce

Katy Perry, Photo by Glenn Francis, Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia

Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia

Michael Jordon, photo by Steve Lipofsky, Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia.

Feature image: pch.com, www freepik.com


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