21 Role Models for Success

An important key foundation in Neuro-linguistic Programming is modeling. To model, you emulate those who have already achieved success. You observe, analyze and then replicate the factors that contributed to the outstanding performance.

Role Model for Success

While there is no 100% guarantee that you can garner the same results, modeling helps you shorten your learning curve. You learn to avoid common mistakes and apply the essential steps and strategies that have helped your role model succeed. The idea is that it is much easier to follow a previously proven path to success.

The following are well-known examples of people who have succeeded against all odds. They have not allowed their first signs of obstacles deter them. What was remarkable was that many of them were initially told by their detractors that they did not have what it took to make it. However, they have not let their initial disappointment stopped them from trying again and again. Until they succeeded.

1. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hensen. Their book “Chicken Soup for the Soul” was rejected by over 140 publishers. Not one of the publishers thought that it could turn out to be a bestseller. Well, it eventually did. It sold more 100 million copies and launched the Chicken Soup series, making both of them rich and famous.

“You have to believe it’s possible and believe in yourself. Because after you’ve decided what you want, you have to believe it’s possible, and possible for you, not just for other people. Then you need to seek out models, mentors, and coaches.”
– Jack Canfield

2. Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison was an American inventor who developed many life-changing devices such as the phonograph and the light bulb. As a prolific inventor, he had more than 1,000 U.S patents to his name.

However, when he was young, teachers told him that he was “too stupid to learn anything”. In school, the young Edison’s mind often wandered. He only lasted 3 months. He was eventually homeschooled by his mother.

Edison was also hearing impaired. It is ironic that he would eventually be involved in the development of the motion picture camera. For developing the light bulb to great commercial success, he was most famous for the following quote…

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas Edison

3. Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is known as the greatest basketball player of all time. His persistence paid off after he failed to make it for the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year. At 5’11” (1.80 m) back then, he was deemed too short to play at that level.

“Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it,” Jordan said, “and that usually got me going again.”

Instead of pouting or making excuses over failure, Jordan practiced hard at perfecting his game. His burning desire to win, coupled with his utter refusal to quit made him a legend in his time.

4. Walt Disney.
Walt Disney was fired from his first job because he was told that he lacked imagination. He also had to endure numerous difficulties and challenges while setting up his dream business and ending up with bankruptcy even. He kept up with his persistence. Today, his entire set-up – including moves, merchandise and theme parks – is worth billions.

“To some people, I am kind of a Merlin who takes lots of crazy chances, but rarely makes mistakes. I’ve made some bad ones, but, fortunately, the successes have come along fast enough to cover up the mistakes. When you go to bat as many times as I do, you’re bound to get a good average.”
– Walt Disney

5. J.K. Rowling. The original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected by a dozen publishers; including big houses like Penguin and Harper Collins. Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, only took it because the CEO’s eight-year old daughter begged her father to print the book.

Before she published the Harry Porter series, she was in poverty, severely depressed and a single parent. She went from depending on welfare to being one of the richest women in the world in a span of only five years through hard work and perseverance.

6. Colonel Sander. If you like the taste of Kentucky Fried Chicken, you will wonder why Colonel Sander’s idea was rejected 1009 times over a period of 2 years.

“I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”
– Colonel Sanders

7. Bill Gates. Bill Gates is an American businessman, author, philanthropist and chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. He is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest person in the world.

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to pursue his first idea. However, the business soon failed. He turned around his fortunes with his later work. He was known for being aggressive and persistent in his work ethic.

8. Orville and Wilbur Wright. We need to thank the Wright brothers for their contribution to air travel. They built the first plane that could stay airborne. The Wright brothers succeeded only after numerous attempts, tons of failed prototypes and many years of experiments.

“If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance.”
– Wright brothers

9. Ludwig van Beethoven. His teachers thought that he was hopeless and that he would never succeed as a composer or at the violin. Well, Beethoven kept up with his passion. He eventually composed some of the best loved symphonies of all time. Five of these were composed when he was completely deaf.

10. Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley may be known as the King of Rock and Roll. But back when he was still unknown, he got fired after just one performance. His manager, Jimmy Denny, told him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

11. Steven Spielberg. Steven Spielberg has proven that he does not need to have passed film school to be one of the best movie directors. He was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television not just one but three times.

He eventually attended school at another location, but became a dropout, not long after, in order to become a director. He finally returned to school only after 35 years from the time he first started on his degree.

12. Baby Ruth. Despite having passed on, Ruth continues to be regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in America. He is well known for his home run record of 714 including 1,330 strikeouts during his career. When interviewed, he was reported to have said,

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

13. Harrison Ford. You have seen him in many movie blockbuster hits such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones. There is no doubt that he can act convincingly. In 2003, he received a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

However, in his first ever film, Ford was told by movie execs that he did not have what it would take to be a star. As a struggling artiste, he did carpentry work. He was helping George Lucas for his house that landed him his first starring film role (as Han Solo in the movie, Star Wars).

14. Stephen King. Stephen King is an acclaimed American novelist and short-story writer for horror fiction. His first novel, Carrie (1974), was a tale of a girl with telekinetic powers. King had thrown the first pages of the story in the trash, thinking that his draft was not good enough. Luckily, his wife rescued them and encouraged him to finish the work. Well, he has been churning spine-chilling novels to great worldwide demand ever since.

15. Claude Monet. Monet was the leader of Impressionists, a group of artists who rebelled against the traditional method of painting. His Impressionist paintings were once mocked by the artistic elite, the Paris Salon.

Despite this and having to go through a number of financial struggles, he kept at his style. He painted about 2500 paintings in all. Today, his paintings sell for millions of dollars and hangs in many prestigious institutions around the world.

16. Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has emerged as one of the top role models for today. She is rich, successful and shows genuine care for the people.

Oprah endured an abusive childhood and numerous challenges to get to where she is now. At one stage, she was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for tv”.

I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.
– Oprah Winfrey

17. Lucille Ball. Before starring in I Love Lucy, Ball was known only as a B movie star. Her drama teachers didn’t feel she could make it. And so they advised her to try another profession.

Well, she proved everyone wrong. She subsequently garnered thirteen Emmy nominations and four wins, also earning the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center Honors.

18. Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill makes the perfect role model for the advice: it’s never too old to get started. He was defeated in every election for public office until he finally became the Prime Minister at the age of 62.

“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”
– Winston Churchill

Churchill wasn’t known to be brilliant as a young child either. He struggled in school, and failed the sixth grade.

19. Charlie Chaplin. Charlie Chaplin’s act was initially rejected by Hollywood studio chiefs. They felt that it was too nonsensical to ever sell. Chaplin obviously had the last laugh.

He did not grow up in the best of circumstances. Chaplin came from a broken family. His parents divorced before he was three. His father was an alcoholic and had little contact with the son. His mother became mentally ill after her singing career faltered when her voice failed.

Well, Chaplin went on to providing the gift of comedy through World War I, the Great Depression and the rise of Adolf Hitler. He is now known one of the most creative and influential personalities of the silent-film era.

20. Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a property magnet, author and television personality. He is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as having engineered the biggest financial turnaround in history.

“In the early 1990s, I owed billions of dollars and many people thought I was finished,” says Trump. “I refused to give in to the negative circumstances and I never lost faith in myself. I didn’t believe I was finished even when the newspapers were saying so. I refused to give up. Defeat is not in my vocabulary.”

21. Christopher Reeve. It is ironic that the actor who played Superman famously would eventually become physically handicapped. The world was shocked when he became paralyzed as a result of a riding accident when he fell on his head. The fall broke his spinal cord.

The former Superman admitted that he cried every day dealing with the reality of being in a wheelchair. “In the morning, I need twenty minutes to cry,” he said. “To wake up and make that shift, you know, and to just say, “This really sucks”…to really allow yourself the feeling of loss…still needs to be acknowledged.”

But after his long, hard cry each day, he would tell himself, “And now, forward!”

Despite his handicap, Reeve was an exemplary model of courage. He continued to travel, gave public appearances, raised funds, became a director and served as a voice for the quadriplegics in the United States.

Your Success Role Model

Which role model most inspires you? Share in your comments below on which quality makes you such a big fan of this person.

Don’t forget to bookmark this post on role models. And go break a leg!

Abundance Always,

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Author. Adventurer. Life Artist. More About Me.

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