Learning from Famous Failures

Now that I’m on the other side of 40, the value of failure is obvious. Although painful at the time, it’s clear to me that my greatest moments of growth always came after I fell on my face.

As a junior in college, I applied to be editor of the school’s daily newspaper. Great interview. Didn’t get the job. Learned patience and the value of swallowing my pride to serve as the news section editor for the guy who did get the job. (That year, I worked as the news editor for a semester, won a prestigious three-month spring internship, and was eventually given the editor-in-chief role as a senior.)

After graduation, I worked a summer for the San Francisco Chronicle and applied for their two-year internship program. Lost the spot. Learned patience and the value of working in a small-town newspaper, where I pulled better assignments and was given far more responsibility than I would’ve been given at the big city paper. (That small-town job also put me on the path to becoming an education reporter, which eventually led me to the classroom. Definitely a win.)

In my late 20s, my engagement was broken three months before the wedding. A long story made short: I wanted kids; he did not. Learned patience and the value of not compromising on the things that are most important to me. (Today, I’m married to a better match and we have two awesome kids. Huzzah!)

In each of these cases, I felt sorry for myself for a night or two and then got busy making life better.

Life is hard and you will fail. It’s what you do next that determines the quality of your life. That’s the message I hope my own kids have learned by watching me and one I want to give to my current roster of students. This message, of course, is echoed all over social media, but I wanted to try to find reliable sources to back up what life experience has taught me to be true. To that end, I did some research and built this interactive bulletin board for my students.


Now let’s see if you can identify some of these famous failures (scroll down for answers):


Ready for the answers? Here we go…

Inspired? Make your own growth mindset board or save some time and grab my print-and-go materials.

Teach on, everyone!

7 thoughts on “Learning from Famous Failures

  1. LOL, brilliant, as usual! Very inspirational too!

    This was hard! Elvis rang a bell, but I didn’t dare say the answer out loud to myself. I think the only one I got was Rowlings. That was baaaaad! hahaha Then again, I don’t know much about famous people, not even the local ones, although their lives are a little more familiar to me: mishaps of living abroad.

    Will get hold of this, in the meantime, it sits in my wish list!

    Thanks again!

  2. Funny, Carolyn! Yes, I’m worried that more and more of my students won’t even know who Elvis Presley is as these years roll by. Thank goodness for Lilo & Stitch! 🙂

  3. I took advantage of the TPT sale, and I splurged on this (and quite a few of your other top-notch products). I presently have your “Opening Lines” bulletin board outside my room, and my principal was admiring it. Thanks to you, I look like a creative genius. lol

    I am looking forward to displaying this board during the February/March doldrums, when the grades start to plummet. I think these tidbits of inspiration will lift students’ spirits.

    Thank you, once again, for sharing your creativity.

  4. Thanks for your ongoing support of my shop, Michelle! This board will definitely brighten up your hallway as we make that long slog to spring break. Appreciate your note! 🙂

  5. Danielle M Terrell says:

    This was so difficult to complete. I think my students will love trying to guess some of these.
    Thank you for sharing your story and the materials.

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