People who overcame difficult odds |   (2022)

This is a selection of people who overcame adversity, obstacles and difficult odds to attain a significant achievement.

Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was a 14-year-old illiterate peasant girl. However, despite the prejudice against both peasants and women, she persuaded the Dauphin of France to lay siege to the town of Orleans. She correctly prophesied the Dauphin would be again crowned King of France. Seven years after her death, the French had defeated the English.

Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) worked very hard to train as a lawyer, despite the South African apartheid system making this very difficult for a black man. Against the odds Nelson Mandela was able to practice law, helping many black South Africans to survive in the apartheid system. When Nelson Mandela was sent to jail for his opposition to apartheid in the 1960s, there seemed no end in sight to the all-powerful apartheid system of South Africa. But, against the odds, Mandela played a critical role in bringing about the end of apartheid and the first truly democratic elections.

People who overcame difficult odds | (3)Helen Keller (1880-1968) A became deaf-blind before her second birthday. Despite this debilitating disability, she learned to read and write, and became the first deaf-blind person to gain a bachelor degree. She campaigned on issues of social welfare, women’s suffrage, disability rights and impressed many with her force of personality.

Winston Churchill (1874- 1965)In 1940, Britain stood alone against the all-conquering Nazi war machine. After Hitler’s troops had swept all before them, the invasion of Britain looked imminent. There were several leading British politicians who advocated suing for peace, like Vichy France. Churchill inspired the nation to fight on and achieve total victory – whatever the cost. Five years later, British troops took part in the Allied landings in Normandy and over a year later completed the liberation of Europe.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) For his non-violent protests against the British domination of India, Gandhi was put into jail several times. Militarily, India could not hope to defeat the British Empire, but through his policy of ahimsa/non-violence he awoke the spirit of fellow Indians and helped to create a climate for Indian Independence which came in 1947.

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Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005) Rosa Parks could have easily been just another statistic in the American system of racial segregation. In the Deep South, black Americans were systematically discriminated against, but on one famous day in 1955, Rosa Parks made a stand and refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. Her brave action sparked a widespread boycott of buses in Montgomery, Alabama.

People who overcame difficult odds | (7)Ruby Bridges (1954 – ) An American civil rights activist who became the first black child to enter a previously all-white elementary school in Louisiana symbolically breaking the colour bar for segregation in the south. Aged only six years old she overcame the hostility and prejudice of many in her community who opposed her right to equal education.

Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796) German by birth, Catherine the Great married into the Russian Royal family at a time when women played little, if any, role in public life. But, she became one of the most influential monarchs Russia had ever seen. She oversaw an increase in Russian influence and helped to improve the conditions of the serf population.

Marie Curie (1867-1934)In an age where few women were able to be educated, Marie Curie became one of the most important scientists of her generation. Her discoveries enabled the development of modern radiation and X-Ray. She was one of the few people to receive a Nobel prize for both medicine and physics.

Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1797) – Aged 11, he was taken into slavery and transported to America. However, after releasing his freedom he wrote a book ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano‘ which played a pivotal role in turning public opinion in Britain against slavery. It was also well received for its literary merit

Beethoven For a musician to lose his hearing is the greatest possible misfortune. Yet, despite the inevitable frustration, it didn’t stop Beethoven composing some of the most sublime pieces of music in the history of man.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) Born in a one-room log cabin, Lincoln taught himself to read and trained to become a lawyer. Despite numerous setbacks both personal and political, he was elected 16th President of the US from 1861-1865. In difficult circumstances Lincoln led the Union forces to victory preserving the United States and against vehement opposition passed a bill to abolish legal slavery.

Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913) Born into slavery, Tubman managed to escape and begin a new life. She returned on many dangerous missions to Maryland where she helped lead slaves to freedom. She also served as agent and leader during the Civil War. She became a symbol of the abolition movement.

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Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) Living through, first the Nazi occupation of Poland, and then the totalitarian Communist state of Poland, Pope John Paul II became the first-ever Polish Pope and presided over one of the most influential papacies in history.

People who overcame difficult odds | (15)Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – ) – Pursued Glasnost and Perestroika, enabling the gradual end of Communist rule, bringing democracy to Eastern Europe.

Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018) – despite suffering from motor neurone disease, Hawking has helped popularise scientific concepts and make ground-breaking discoveries.

Simon Bolivar (1783 – 1830) Bolivar led several Latin American countries (Peru, Bolivar, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela) to independence from the Spanish colonial forces. Initially, people were reluctant to support his revolution. But, through strong leadership and success in daring military attacks, he swung opinion behind him and succeeding in defeating the power of the Spanish royal forces.

Oprah Winfrey (1954– ) Winfrey grew up in poverty. She gave birth aged 14, and lost her child. With few resources, she became a respected American talkshow host and businesswoman. Oprah Winfrey was the first woman to own her own talk show. One of the most influential women in the US.

Thomas Edison – Thomas Edison was fired from his job, when a chemical experiment, leaked acid on to his boss’ desk. However, despite being almost penniless, Edison rose to be the most prolific inventor of his generation.

Jesse Owens – Despite experiencing racial discrimination in his native country, the US. Owens became a global icon at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. By winning Olympic gold in the 100m, Owens helped demolish the myth of Hitler’s Aryan superiority theory.

J.K.Rowling – J.K.Rowling became the world’s best-selling children’s author, despite managing on benefits as a single mother. Initially, her manuscript for Harry Potter was rejected by several publishers.

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Florence Nightingale – When Florence Nightingale went to the Crimea to serve in hospitals, nurses were given little respect or priority. However, she helped to change attitudes to the nursing profession and implement new practices which helped to improve mortality survival rates.

Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) British Quaker who campaigned for better conditions in prisons, also set up charities for homeless and poor. She was an early female pioneer in influencing public policy.

Malala Yousafzai (1997 ) – Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global advocate for human rights, women’s rights and the right to education.

People who overcame difficult odds | (25)Greta Thunberg (2003 – ) Swedish schoolgirl who has become a global leader for environmental issues. When she started her school strike, she was only one person and was often condemned for missing school. But, she has overcame opposition to build a global coalition in favour of environmental activism.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “People who overcame difficult odds”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 11th Feb 2013. Last updated 1 March 2020.

Related pages

Courageous people– People who have overcome difficult circumstances and difficult odds. Includes Joan of Arc, Galileo, Harriet Tubman, Socrates, Malala Yousafzai.

Inspirational people– People who made a difference in a positive way and left the world a better place. Includes Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa and Emil Zatopek.

(Video) 10 Celebrities Who Have Overcome Adversity Pt.I | They Will Inspire You to NEVER GIVE UP!

People who fought for human/civil rights– People who campaigned for equality, civil rights and civil justice. Includes Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks.

  • People who overcame failure
  • People of Faith

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FAQs

What celebrity is resilient? ›

Billie Eilish, KSI, Marcus Rashford and the Queen are among the public figures to have earned the respect of young people, with bravery and resilience the qualities they most admire, a survey has found.

What are adversity 3 examples? ›

17 Best Adversity Examples
  • Overcoming a Disability.
  • Overcoming a Rejection.
  • Proving Someone Wrong.
  • Growing up Poor.
  • Being a Refugee.
  • Being an Immigrant.
  • Failing as a Student.
  • Getting Fired or Laid off.

What is an example of overcoming adversity? ›

This is also an opportunity to explain how overcoming adversity strengthened you as a professional or individual. Example: "Because of my hard work and dedication, I overcame the language barrier and passed the fluency test with a near-perfect score.

Who is famous for not giving up? ›

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest thinkers of our time, didn't speak until he was four-years old. He also failed his entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic school located in Zurich at sixteen-years old. And, even his father, up until the time of his death, considered his son to be a major failure.

Who is someone famous that overcame adversity? ›

Bethany Hamilton

At just thirteen years old, Hamilton had her left arm bitten off by a shark during a surfing accident. Instead of admitting defeat, she went back to her surfboard one month later and continued to practice.

Who failed the most before succeeding? ›

9 Famous People Who Failed Spectacularly Before They Found Success
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) ...
  • Charles Darwin (1809-1882) ...
  • Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) ...
  • The Wright Brothers (Orville 1871-1948 and Wilbur 1867-1912) ...
  • Winston Churchill (1874-1965) ...
  • 7. Walt Disney (1901-1966) ...
  • JK Rowling (1965-) ...
  • Lady Gaga (1986-)

Who has failed multiple times before succeeding? ›

9 Influential Inventors Who Failed Multiple Times Before Reaching Success
  • Sir James Dyson. Source: Michiel Hendryckx/Wikimedia Commons. ...
  • 2. Walt Disney. ...
  • Henry Ford. ...
  • Robert Goddard. ...
  • Alexander Graham Bell. ...
  • Albert Einstein. ...
  • William and Orville Wright. ...
  • Thomas Edison.
1 Jun 2020

Does adversity make you stronger? ›

When faced with a crisis, it can be difficult in the moment to imagine the experience will eventually lead to some type of growth. Resilience is a person's ability to bounce back from adversity and grow from the challenge, and research now shows that past adversity can help you persevere in the face of current stress.

What are the 4 leaps of overcoming adversity? ›

How to Overcome Adversity in 4 Simple Steps
  • Step One: Define the Problem Clearly.
  • Step Two: Determine the Worst Possible Outcome.
  • Step Three: Resolve to accept the worst, should it occur.
  • Step Four: Expect and Improve the Worst Case Scenario.

How do successful people overcome adversity? ›

People who rebound from adversity begin by believing they are capable of finding a way forward. If you feel hopeless and powerless, it's unlikely you'll find a way to be successful. You have to have self-confidence and a strong belief in your capabilities to overcome difficult times.

How do you overcome struggles in life? ›

10 Ways to Overcome Challenges in Life
  1. Make A Plan. While you don't know what is going to happen in the future, you can always plan ahead. ...
  2. Know You're Not Alone. Every person in this world has their low points. ...
  3. Ask For Help. ...
  4. Feel Your Feelings. ...
  5. Accept Support. ...
  6. Help Others. ...
  7. Think Big. ...
  8. Positive Mindset.

How do humans overcome adversity? ›

Learn how to overcome adversity
  1. Be prepared. Working on overcoming adversity happens before the tough situation even happens. ...
  2. Practice positivity. How does a person overcome adversity? ...
  3. Stay disciplined. ...
  4. Stay focused. ...
  5. Find the lesson. ...
  6. Work on your skills. ...
  7. Learn from others. ...
  8. Elevate your peer group.

What is a famous quote about failure? ›

Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” —Richard Branson. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” —Winston Churchill. “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” —Paulo Coelho.

Who is the most famous person in the world of all time? ›

Top 12 Most Famous and Influential People In History. 1. Jesus Christ: In Bethlehem, Palestine, Jesus Christ was born. He was born to Mary, who was found carrying a child of the Holy Spirit, according to the Bible (Matthew 1:18).

What are some famous people? ›

Some famous people
  • Joan of Arc (1412? - 1431): French heroine.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827): German composer.
  • James Cook (1728-1779): English explorer.
  • Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882): English naturalist.
  • Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955): German-born physicist.
  • Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948): Indian peace activist.
25 May 2022

How do challenges make us strong? ›

Challenges Make You Stronger

To build physical strength, you must apply a bit of resistance to your muscles. Challenges produce resistance, which develops inner fortitude. As you go through challenges, you become stronger and stronger. Challenges are an excellent opportunity for growth.

What are the hardships of a celebrity? ›

Top 10 Problems of the Rich and the Famous
  • Taxes. istock. ...
  • Paparazzi. PP. ...
  • No privacy. shutterstock. ...
  • Bad investors/scammers. shutterstock. ...
  • Lack of motivation. HuffPost. ...
  • Lack of time. shutterstock. ...
  • Too much travel. DailyMail. ...
  • Target for crime. TDC.
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Who are people to look up to? ›

  • 8 Inspirational Role Models to Look Up to. For that reason this list will include people who aren't just inspirational but who've said inspirational things in a pithy manner. ...
  • The Dalai Lama. ...
  • Albert Einstein. ...
  • Marilyn Monroe. ...
  • Steve Jobs. ...
  • Malala Yousafzai. ...
  • Amelia Earhart. ...
  • Oprah Winfrey.
3 May 2021

What are some success stories? ›

They're perfect examples of why failure should never stop you from following your vision.
  • Arianna Huffington got rejected by 36 publishers. ...
  • Bill Gates watched his first company crumble. ...
  • George Steinbrenner bankrupted a team. ...
  • 4. Walt Disney was told he lacked creativity. ...
  • Steve Jobs was booted from his own company.
8 Dec 2014

Who is the most struggled person in the world? ›

1 — Abraham Lincoln

He failed numerous times before attaining the highest office in the land. In 1832, when he was 23-years old, Lincoln lost his job.

Do successful people fail? ›

Failure is, inevitably, part of any success story. Those at the top have pasts littered with start-ups that went under or ideas that never got off the ground. The greatest risks yield the greatest reward, but you have to risk it over and over again until you create something that sticks.

What do successful people do when they fail? ›

They Respect Their Vulnerabilities

Mentally strong people use failure as an opportunity to spot their weaknesses. Rather than dispute their shortcomings or hide their mistakes, they seek to be authentic. Their humble, self-aware approach assists them in developing strategies to become better.

Who failed 999 times? ›

The famous story goes, Edison failed to refine the light bulb (one of the few creations he merely refined but did not invent) so many times it took him 10,000 attempts to perfect. However rather than accepting failure 9,999 times he is quoted as answering questions on his failures as rather: 'I have not failed.

Who is the most successful failure? ›

Some of the most prominent 'successful failures' that come to mind include:
  1. WALT DISNEY. Did you know he was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas?” ...
  2. STEPHEN KING. ...
  3. OPRAH WINFREY. ...
  4. JK ROWLING. ...
  5. BILL GATES. ...
  6. COLONEL SANDERS.
5 Apr 2021

What if I fail in life? ›

In the words of Winston Churchill: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal -- it is the courage to continue that counts." If you have ever failed in the past but never gave up, you are stronger than you think. If you have failed recently and are considering giving up, don't.

What does God say about adversity? ›

God uses adversity not only to benefit us personally but also to benefit others. As God helps us through adversity, we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:4). Adversity helps our faith to grow in countless ways.

What is emotional adversity? ›

Emotional Adversity

Those who don't have that maturity face more difficulties in life. A very common, very human problem is for people to undervalue themselves. Those individuals need to learn how to improve their self-worth. Another emotion that can overwhelm us is rage.

What is adversity in psychology? ›

Adversity may be defined as unfortunate, difficult, or challenging events that occur in our lives. It's been said that adverse situations can be great opportunities for learning.

Does living through hardship make people happier? ›

Even the strong may feel spent, but psychology research shows that people who have lived through adversity can actually end up feeling happier than those who haven't. Difficult experiences can help us learn to savor the small joys of daily life, grow our compassion and actually increase happiness.

Does hardship build character? ›

Adversity also allows us the very important character trait of resilience; through resilience, one is able to be bolder and more level headed, one's character is strengthened and one is able to move on from very painful circumstances.

Why is adversity important in life? ›

When faced with a crisis, it can be difficult in the moment to imagine the experience will eventually lead to some type of growth. Resilience is a person's ability to bounce back from adversity and grow from the challenge, and research now shows that past adversity can help you persevere in the face of current stress.

What word describe someone who overcomes obstacles? ›

Persevering is used to describe people who persevere—continue to do or try to achieve something despite difficulty or discouragement. A close synonym is persistent. Persevering can also be used to describe the efforts of such people.

How do you turn adversity into opportunity? ›

When adversity strikes, do the following: (1) embrace your reality, (2) take stock of resources and threats, (3) apply any possible lessons learned from previous experiences, (4) develop a plan of action, (5) commit to a direction, and (6) move forward with conviction.

Does everyone face adversity? ›

At some point, everyone faces adversity; adversity is part of everyone's life. It's how you bounce back from these hard times, however, that really defines you as a person and will ultimately determine your happiness. One thing I've learned is that it's always our biggest stumbles that lead to our biggest lessons.

How was Nelson Mandela resilient? ›

A stunning example of resilience is Nelson Mandela. He was sent to prison as a young firebrand who believed in taking up violent means of resistance when the justice system failed. Twenty-seven years later, he came out advocating peace and reconciliation.

What is the most resilient quality of man in art? ›

This nihilist notion is contested by what are arguably the most resilient qualities of man, which is his creativity and imagination. And as long as there is a cultivation of both of these qualities, no robot or artificial intelligence can replace man just yet.

What does it mean if a person is resilient? ›

Resilience is the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.

Are successful people resilient? ›

Resilience is the underlying trait of successful people. by Caroline Stokes | Medium. A recent article in the New Yorker expressed, resilience, whether it's demonstrated in early childhood or later in life to overcome a traumatic event, it's a skill we adapt and learn through our personal experiences.

Who is a resilient leader? ›

A resilient leader is one who demonstrates the ability to see failures as minor setbacks, with the tenacity to bounce back quickly and turn challenges into opportunities.

What is Mandela referring to as resilience? ›

(iv) Resilience that defies the imagination. – A great ability (almost unimaginable) to remain. unchanged by suffering (not losing hope, goodness or courage) (v) A glimmer of humanity – A sign of human feeling (goodness, kindness, pity, justice, etc.)

How do leaders maintain resilience? ›

4 Ways to Build Leadership Resilience
  1. Reflect and Assess. Leaders need to have a strong understanding of themselves to successfully guide others through times of change and uncertainty. ...
  2. Strive to Continuously Learn and Grow. ...
  3. Be Purpose-Driven. ...
  4. Cultivate Relationships.
17 Dec 2019

What are the 7 C's of resilience? ›

Dr Ginsburg, child paediatrician and human development expert, proposes that there are 7 integral and interrelated components that make up being resilient – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

What are the 5 skills of resilience? ›

Resilience is made up of five pillars: self-awareness, mindfulness, self-care, positive relationships and purpose.

How do you become mentally resilient? ›

Tips to improve your resilience
  1. Get connected. Building strong, positive relationships with loved ones and friends can provide you with needed support, guidance and acceptance in good and bad times. ...
  2. Make every day meaningful. ...
  3. Learn from experience. ...
  4. Remain hopeful. ...
  5. Take care of yourself. ...
  6. Be proactive.

Does trauma make you stronger? ›

Trauma, obstacles and adversity are not only a fact of life, they're how people grow stronger. It's estimated that 90% of people who experience adversity also experience some form of personal growth in the following months and years.

What are two characteristics of resilient people? ›

Characteristics of Resilient People. Some of the main characteristics of a person who has resilience are awareness, self-control, problem-solving skills, and social support. Resilient people are aware of situations, their emotional reactions, and the behavior of those around them.

Is resilience genetic or learned? ›

Resilience is undeniably influenced by genetic factors, but very little is known about the exact underlying mechanisms. A recently published genome-wide association study (GWAS) on resilience has identified three new susceptibility loci, DCLK2, KLHL36, and SLC15A5.

Are resilient people happier? ›

In an article about the issue, Time magazine reported on scientific studies that have shown being resilient can lead to a happier life. As the magazine noted, resilience helps people “not only to get through hard times but to thrive during and after them.

Why are some people so resilient? ›

An individual's resilience is dictated by a combination of genetics, personal history, environment and situational context. So far, research has found the genetic part to be relatively small.

Why resilience is key to success? ›

Resilience helps you reduce stress. This trait is really all about staying grounded and managing adversity. When you're better able to accept setbacks, recover quickly from disappointments, and adapt well to change, you deal with stress better.

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