Famous Failures

L Fail again 9193

Return to the Tutor Time Activities page to see all resources 

The term ‘grit’ is in the news a lot at the moment, particularly in relation to education, where it is seen as an important skill for young people to develop to help them cope with life’s stresses and strains, and to help them have staying power to aim for what they want in life.   

In particular a key part of ‘grit’ is giving students the opportunity to fail at something, along with the ability to recognise failure as a positive thing. 

L Fail again 9193





Useful tutor time discussions might be to get students to think about famous failures and how for many people failure was in reality what ultimately made them a success. Dyson even use their failures as a marketing strategy as can be seen in the image above. 

Famous failures include:

  • Michael Jordan, the basketball player was dropped from his High School basketball team
  • John Wayne, the Hollywood actor, was rejected from the United States Naval Academy
  • Beethoven's music teacher told him he was a useless composer
  • Henry Ford first two businesses failed before his Henry Ford Motor Company was set up
  • Steven Spielberg, the film director, dropped out of school which meant he was rejected from 3 film schools because of poor grades
  • Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister, did badly in school and had a speech impediment when he was young
  • Walt Disney was fired by the editor of a newspaper as he didn't have enough good ideas
  • Albert Einstein learnt to speak late and performed poorly in school
  • The Beatles were rejected by the Decca record label as they said didn't like their sound and didn't have a future


This short video might be also be a useful as a prompt for discussion.


Return to the Tutor Time Activities page to see all resources 


Want to contact us?

© Boyd Education  2012   text, images & ideas on this website are the copyright of Julie Boyd & may not be copied or reproduced without permission.. All rights Reserved.