We all love a story about a person overcoming hardship and setbacks to achieve success and to find happiness.  There are many such stories. Here are my 5 favorites. 

#1  Abraham Lincoln – We typically think of Lincoln toward the end of his life during his difficult years as president of the United States.  He led the country through the Civil War.  We think of him as one of our greatest presidents and speakers.  We think of his Gettysburg Address and the Emancipate Proclamation.  However, that is not how he started out. 

Lincoln was not always a rich and powerful man.  In 1833, Lincoln and a friend bought a general store in the town of New Salem, Illinois.  Because Lincoln had no money for his share of the store, he gave a promissory note to one of the sellers of the store.  When the note became due, Lincoln did not have the money to pay it.  He had to turn to bankruptcy. 

#2 Henry Ford –Ford became one of the most successful businessmen at the beginning of the 20th Century.  However, his first two efforts to manufacture cars failed.  Ford turned to bankruptcy both times.  Within 10 years, he found great success in his Model T and went on to create an automotive empire.  This is a great example of learning from your mistakes and not giving up. 

#3 Walt Disney – The man who would create such major successful movies as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Fantasia, Mary Poppins and many more, did not allow a setback and bankruptcy to deter him from great success.  Disney began a business making movies in 1922.  By 1923, he needed to file bankruptcy.  However, in 1928, he created Mickey Mouse and years later Disneyland and Disney World

#4 Donald Trump – Today, when asked to name the most successful business people in the world, most people put Donald Trump near the top of the list.  A keen business person, Trump understands that bankruptcy is a tool to be used to get the most out of a situation.  Although Trump has not filed personal bankruptcy, he has filed 4 corporate bankruptcies.  He truly has found a way to make lemonade from lemons. 

#5 Cyndi Lauper – This is actually my favorite recent bankruptcy story.  Lauper is not a great person from history or a business person who is hard to like.  She is an ordinary, likable person, who struggled in her early career but went on to achieve great success. 

In 1981, Lauper had a dispute with her manager, who sued her for $80,000.  She turned to bankruptcy to get out of debt.  However, she did not allow this to define her.  She enjoyed such hits as Time After Time and True Colors.  Today, Lauper has the Broadway hit and Grammy Award winner Kinky Boots

Each of these stories teaches us a valuable lesson.  Bankruptcy does not need to define you as a loser.  Bankruptcy is a tool to be used to help you reach your goals.  If you don’t succeed, learn from your setback, use bankruptcy to clean the slate, and try, try again.