They Did Not Give Up

 They Did Not Give Up

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail
~ Samuel Beckett

As a young man, Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a
private. Afterwards, he was a failure as a businessman. As a lawyer in
Springfield, he was too impractical and temperamental to be a success.
He turned to politics and was defeated in his first try for the
legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for
congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the
General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854,
defeated in his efforts for the vice-presidency in 1856, and defeated
in the senatorial election of 1858. At about that time, he wrote in a
letter to a friend, "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I
feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would
not be one cheerful face on the earth."

Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. He was subsequently defeated
in every election for public office until he became Prime Minister at
the age of 62. He later wrote, "Never give in, never give in, never,
never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty -
never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never,
Never, Never, Never give up." (his capitals, mind you)

Socrates was called "an immoral corrupter of youth" and continued to
corrupt even after a sentence of death was imposed on him. He drank
the hemlock and died corrupting.

Sigmund Freud was booed from the podium when he first presented his
ideas to the scientific community of Europe. He returned to his office
and kept on writing.

Robert Sternberg received a C in his first college introductory-
psychology class. His teacher commented that "there was a famous
Sternberg in psychology and it was obvious there would not be
another." Three years later Sternberg graduated with honors from
Stanford University with exceptional distinction in psychology, summa
cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. In 2002, he became President of the
American Psychological Association.

Charles Darwin gave up a medical career and was told by his father,
"You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat catching." In his
autobiography, Darwin wrote, "I was considered by all my masters and
my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of
intellect." Clearly, he evolved.

Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything."
He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive." As an
inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the
light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000
times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was
an invention with 1,000 steps."

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time
we fall."
~ Confucius

Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not
read until he was 7. His parents thought he was "sub-normal," and one
of his teachers described him as "mentally slow, unsociable, and
adrift forever in foolish dreams." He was expelled from school and was
refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually
learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math.

Louis Pasteur was only a mediocre pupil in undergraduate studies and
ranked 15th out of 22 students in chemistry.

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded.
R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York City
caught on.

F. W. Woolworth was not allowed to wait on customers when he worked
in a dry goods store because, his boss said, "he didn't have enough

When Bell telephone was struggling to get started, its owners
offered all their rights to Western Union for $100,000. The offer was
disdainfully rejected with the pronouncement, "What use could this
company make of an electrical toy."

John Garcia, who eventually was honored for his fundamental
psychological discoveries, was once told by a reviewer of his often-
rejected manuscripts that one is no more likely to find the phenomenon
he discovered than to find bird droppings in a cuckoo clock. (sort of
a cute critique actually)

Rocket scientist Robert Goddard found his ideas bitterly rejected by
his scientific peers on the grounds that rocket propulsion would not
work in the rarefied atmosphere of outer space.

Daniel Boone was once asked by a reporter if he had ever been lost
in the wilderness. Boone thought for a moment and replied, "No, but I
was once bewildered for about three days."

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly."
~ Robert F. Kennedy

An expert said of Vince Lombardi: "He possesses minimal football
knowledge and lacks motivation." Lombardi would later write, "It's not
whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get back up."

Michael Jordan and Bob Cousy were each cut from their high school
basketball teams. Jordan once observed, "I've failed over and over
again in my life. That is why I succeed."

Babe Ruth is famous for his past home run record, but for decades he
also held the record for strikeouts. He hit 714 home runs and struck
out 1,330 times in his career (about which he said, "Every strike
brings me closer to the next home run."). And didn't Mark McGwire
break that strikeout record? (John Wooden once explained that winners
make the most errors.)

Hank Aaron went 0 for 5 his first time at bat with the Milwakee

Stan Smith was rejected as a ball boy for a Davis Cup tennis match
because he was "too awkward and clumsy." He went on to clumsily win
Wimbledon and the U. S. Open. And eight Davis Cups.

Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, and Jimmy Johnson accounted for
11 of the 19 Super Bowl victories from 1974 to 1993. They also share
the distinction of having the worst records of first-season head
coaches in NFL history - they didn't win a single game.

Johnny Unitas's first pass in the NFL was intercepted and returned
for a touchdown. Joe Montana's first pass was also intercepted. And
while we're on quarterbacks, during his first season Troy Aikman threw
twice as many interceptions (18) as touchdowns (9) . . . oh, and he
didn't win a single game. You think there's a lesson here?

After Carl Lewis won the gold medal for the long jump in the 1996
Olympic games, he was asked to what he attributed his longevity,
having competed for almost 20 years. He said, "Remembering that you
have both wins and losses along the way. I don't take either one too

"Our achievements speak for themselves. What we have to keep track of
are our failures, discouragements, and doubts. We tend to forget the
past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We
see our past achievements as the end result of a clean forward thrust,
and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay."
~ Eric Hoffer

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because "he lacked
imagination and had no good ideas." He went bankrupt several times
before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by
the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract

Charles Schultz had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high
school yearbook staff. Oh, and Walt Disney wouldn't hire him.

After Fred Astaire's first screen test, the memo from the testing
director of MGM, dated 1933, read, "Can't act. Can't sing. Slightly
bald. Can dance a little." He kept that memo over the fire place in
his Beverly Hills home. Astaire once observed that "when you're
experimenting, you have to try so many things before you choose what
you want, that you may go days getting nothing but exhaustion." And
here is the reward for perseverance: "The higher up you go, the more
mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of
them, it's considered to be your style."

After his first audition, Sidney Poitier was told by the casting
director, "Why don't you stop wasting people's time and go out and
become a dishwasher or something?" It was at that moment, recalls
Poitier, that he decided to devote his life to acting.

When Lucille Ball began studying to be actress in 1927, she was told
by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School, "Try
any other profession."

The first time Jerry Seinfeld walked on-stage at a comedy club as a
professional comic, he looked out at the audience, froze, and forgot
the English language. He stumbled through "a minute-and a half" of
material and was jeered offstage. He returned the following night and
closed his set to wild applause.

In 1944, Emmeline Snively, director of the Blue Book Modeling
Agency, told modeling hopeful Norma Jean Baker, "You'd better learn
secretarial work or else get married." I'm sure you know that Norma
Jean was Marilyn Monroe. Now . . . who was Emmeline Snively?
At the age of 21, French acting legend Jeanne Moreau was told by a
casting director that her head was too crooked, she wasn't beautiful
enough, and she wasn't photogenic enough to make it in films. She took
a deep breath and said to herself, "Alright, then, I guess I will have
to make it my own way." After making nearly 100 films her own way, in
1997 she received the European Film Academy Lifetime Achievement

"Flops are a part of life's menu
and I've never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses."
~ Rosalind Russell

After Harrison Ford's first performance as a hotel bellhop in the
film Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round, the studio vice-president called
him in to his office. "Sit down kid," the studio head said, "I want to
tell you a story. The first time Tony Curtis was ever in a movie he
delivered a bag of groceries. We took one look at him and knew he was
a movie star." Ford replied, "I thought you were supposed to think that
he was a grocery delivery boy." The vice president dismissed Ford with
"You ain't got it kid , you ain't got it ... now get out of here."
Michael Caine's headmaster told him, "You will be a laborer all your

Charlie Chaplin was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs
because his pantomime was considered "nonsense."

Enrico Caruso's music teacher said he had no voice at all and could
not sing. His parents wanted him to become an engineer.

Decca Records turned down a recording contract with the Beatles with
the unprophetic evaluation, "We don't like their sound. Groups of
guitars are on their way out." After Decca rejected the Beatles,
Columbia records followed suit.

In 1954, Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis
Presley after one performance. He told Presley, "You ain't goin'
nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."

Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own
compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called
him "hopeless as a composer." And, of course, you know that he wrote
five of his greatest symphonies while completely deaf.

"No matter how hard you work for success, if your thought is saturated
with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your
endeavors and make success impossible."
~ Baudjuin

The Impressionists had to arrange their own art exhibitions because
their works were routinely rejected by the Paris Salon. How many of
you have heard of the Paris Salon?

A Paris art dealer refused Picasso shelter when he asked if he could
bring in his paintings from out of the rain. One hopes that there is
justice in this world and that the art dealer eventually went broke.

Van Gogh sold only one painting during his life. And this to the
sister of one of his friends for 400 francs (approximately $50). This
didn't stop him from completing over 800 paintings.

John Constable's luminous painting Watermeadows at Salisbury was
dismissed in 1830 by a judge at the Royal Academy as "a nasty green
thing." Name of the judge, anyone? Anyone?

Rodin's father once said, "I have an idiot for a son." Described as
the worst pupil in the school, he was rejected three times admittance
to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. His uncle called him uneducable. Perhaps
this gave him food for thought.

Stravinsky was run out of town by an enraged audience and critics
after the first performance of the Rite of Spring.

When Pablo Casals reached 95, a young reporter asked him "Mr.
Casals, you are 95 and the greatest cellist that ever lived. Why do
you still practice six hours a day?" Mr. Casals answered, "Because I
think I'm making progress."

"Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune;
but great minds rise above them."
~ Washington Irving

Leo Tolstoy flunked out of college. He was described as both "unable
and unwilling to learn." No doubt a slow developer.
Louisa May Alcott, author of Little
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