We’ve all heard the saying: Success doesn’t happen overnight.
To reach the top, we all have to start somewhere. Like William Shakespeare once said,” Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” there is greatness in all of us – some we know of and some we will find along the way.
How exactly is success measured? Since time immemorial, job titles and wealth have been used to estimate one’s success. We see successful people enjoying their lives to the fullest, wishing on all wishes that we could be them. However, we never stop to fathom what they’ve been and go through to get to be where they are now. Most of these rich self-made entrepreneurs and public figures also started from the bottom. Their stories are not all rainbows and butterflies. In fact, the hurdles that some of them had to go through are what made them stronger and better.
So, if you are someone who is going through a tough time seeking employment – be it because of job loss or job scarcity – this is only the beginning of something great.
In this article, we are going to share some inspiring success stories of professionals who have made it to the top, along with some career options you could opt for in their fields.
Business – Richard Branson
“To be successful you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running.” – Richard Branson
Known as: Founder of Virgin Group.
Richard Charles Nicholas Branson was only 16 years old when he dropped out of school because of his dyslexia. He struggled with his education so much that one of his teachers remarked that Branson would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.
After dropping out of school, he tried growing and selling Christmas trees and parakeets. When his business failed he then started a magazine and called it ‘Student’ with less than $2000 in 1966, after which he opened a record shop in London’s Oxford Street. With the money from his record shop, he was eventually able to launch a record label with the late Nik Powell called ‘Virgin Records’, which later signed notable artists such as Rolling Stones and Paula Abdul. By 1979, a year before Virgin Records went international, his net worth was estimated at £5 million.
He later went on to start Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Healthcare and even signed a deal for a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. By 2021, his net worth is estimated at $4.8 billion.
His success did not come without struggles. When he had to sell Virgin Records because of financial struggles, he cried and said it was a mentally traumatic experience. But he did not allow setbacks to stop him and today, he is one of the richest men in the world.
From struggling with a learning disorder to becoming a self-made billionaire, his story has inspired many all around the globe.
If you want to become a successful businessman like Richard Branson, here are some career options you could start with:
- Sales representative.
- Jobs in industries or mid-level management.
- Office administrator.
- Customer care executive.
- Business Analyst.
- Start your own business.
Sports – LeBron James
“Don’t be afraid of failure. This is the way to succeed.” – LeBron James
Known as: Professional basketball player considered to be one of the greatest NBA players in history.
LeBron Raymone James Sr.,- one of the best basketball players of all time whose net worth is over $500 Million – did not have an easy childhood. He grew up without a father (who was an ex-con) and was raised by his single mother. When his grandmother died, he was only 5 when their house was condemned by the city of Akron in Ohio (LeBron’s birthplace). He and his mother, who was struggling to hold down a steady job, moved 12 times in a span of 3 years (age 5 – 8).
“We had pressures as far as where the hell we were going to sleep at. You know, from night, day to day, night to night. How are we gonna eat from day to day, night to night?” said Lebron to 60 Minutes.
Poverty made him insecure at school due to which he couldn’t make friends or do well in his studies. However, his love for basketball and football allowed him to have an outlet for his pains and frustrations. His natural speed and strength was attributed to his passion for sports. His mother was always supportive of him and when he was 9, she decided to send him to move in with the family of Frank Walker, who became an important figure in his life. It was through his stay with the Walker family that changed his life.
Skipping college, he decided to pursue his passion as a career and worked hard to achieve his goal. In the 2003 NBA draft, he was the No.1 pick. He is currently with the Los Angeles Lakers and has won multiple awards including many NBA MVP.
LeBron’s success story of “the kid who came from next to nothing to becoming one of the world’s best basketball players” has inspired many people to keep believing in themselves and to always follow their dreams.
Here are some career path in the sports industry you could opt for (especially for non-athletes):
- Sports referee.
- Sports agent.
- Sports internships.
- Sports commentator.
- Inside sales representative.
- Fitness program coordinator.
Engineering – Elon Musk
“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.” -Elon Musk
Known as: Founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX, co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors.
Elon Reeve Musk, with an estimated IQ of 155 very much advanced in his academics compared to his other classmates for which he was constantly bullied in school, which included being beaten up.
“They got my best friend to lure me out of hiding so they could beat me up. And that hurt,” Musk said in an interview. “For some reason they decided that I was it, and they were going to go after me nonstop. That’s what made growing up difficult. For a number of years there was no respite. You get chased around by gangs at school who tried to beat the (expletive) out of me, and then I’d come home, and it would just be awful there as well.”
As escapism, he would get lost in his book and read avidly. By age 10, he fell in love with technology and even tried to open a video game arcade near his school with his brother, Kimbal Musk.
It was through his avid reading that he is always trying to make a better place for humans to live in, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources and space colonization to make humanity multi-planetary.
He struggled financially at the beginning of his career so much so that he was in around 100k USD debt when he graduated from university.
Through determination, persistence and hard work, he is now the second richest person in the world ($164 billion).
If you want to become a successful engineer like Elon Musk, here are some of the career paths you could opt for:
- Aerospace engineering
- Aeronautical engineering
- Biomechanical engineering
- Automotive engineering
- Robotics engineering
- Electronics engineering
- Mechatronics engineering.
Politics – Narendra Modi
“Hard work never brings fatigue. It brings satisfaction.” – Narendra Modi
Known as: 14th Prime Minister of India (Current)
Ranked the 9th Most Powerful Person in the World in 2015, 2016 and 2018 by Forbes, Narendra Damodardas Modi is the current Prime Minister of India. He was one of the Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. The impact he has on India and its development has received both criticisms and applause from Indian citizens as well as the world.
His road to success was not privileged as his family belonged to the Other Backward Class. As a young boy, he would help his father sell tea at a railway station and he, along with his brother eventually ran a tea stall near a bus terminal. Although life dealt him a bad hand, he knew the importance of education and showed great interest in debates and theatrical productions. He left his home after he completed schooling and found his calling in politics.
If there’s one key takeaway from Modi’s story, it is that hard work pays off and that no matter where you come from, if you put your mind to it, you will achieve your goal.
Here are some career options for those who want to go into politics:
- Policy analyst
- Communications coordinator
- Campaign manager
- Political consultant
- Media strategist
- Chief of staff
- Legislative staff.
Remember that the road to success is usually bumpy. However, allow every obstacle to be a teachable moment.