Do you ever feel like you’ve missed your chance to achieve greatness doing what you love?
I have good news for you. You haven’t. You’re never too old to start a second – or third, or fifteenth – act in life.
Here are eight tremendously successful people who did just that:
1. Stan Lee, the creative force responsible for Marvel Comics, is known for developing compelling stories by fleshing out superhuman characters with human emotions and internal struggles. In the face of his monumental success, it can be easy to forget that most of his early ventures were relative failures. In fact, Lee was nearly forty years old when he scored his first hit with The Fantastic Four.
2. Grandma Moses is perhaps the most notorious self-taught painter in the world. A farm wife and mother of ten, Moses did not paint a single piece of artwork until the age of seventy-eight. Her nostalgic depictions of nature have rendered her a folk art hero, and an inspiration to many in the creative community. Her original artwork now sells for tens of thousands of dollars.
3. J.K. Rowling is one of the most universally beloved authors of our time. Her books are treasured by children and adults alike. Many may be surprised to hear that Rowling was nearly thirty when she escaped an abusive relationship, living in poverty with her young daughter. She struggled for several years to find a publisher for her first book, enduring multiple rejections. She finally achieved stability in her mid-thirties.
4. Vera Wang‘s dresses are known to be the gold standard of wedding gowns. This is why many are surprised to learn that she did not start designing at all until she was forty years old. Before this, Wang was known for her world-class figure skating talent. Although she did work in fashion for some time, her experience was in magazine editing and accessory directing – a far cry from designing wedding dresses.
5. Ellen DeGeneres gave up her dream of becoming a veterinarian, believing that she was not smart enough. She didn’t think much of her comedy skills, either – her brother was known as “the funny one.” In her early adulthood, Ellen waited tables, sold vacuum cleaners, painted houses, and worked as a secretary. Although she started performing in her mid-twenties, her famous talk show did not become a reality until she was forty-five.
6. Walt Disney may be one of the most famous creative minds of our time – which is why it seems so ironic that he was once criticized by an employer for “lacking imagination.” In Disney’s early life, he experienced many failures – dropping out of high school, being rejected by the military, and declaring bankruptcy, just to name a few. He did not find success as a cartoonist until his thirties.
7. Colonel Sanders – of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame and fortune – did not start cooking professionally until the age of sixty-five. By the age of 88, he was a billionaire. In a stage of life when most people are looking to end their careers, he found his just beginning. Before achieving deep-fried greatness, Sanders worked as a lawyer, fireman, and conductor, as well as other jobs.
8. Boman Irani is well known as one of the greatest actors in Bollywood. Among his most famous films is 3 Idiots. Although Irani was always drawn to creative jobs, such as writing and photography, he did not break into professional acting until his mid-forties. By then, most people who have set out to make it in that industry have long since given up.
“Do not fear failure but rather fear not trying,” wrote Roy T. Bennett.