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Successes That Almost Weren't

It’s Business 101. Anyone who has ever tried to achieve a goal knows rejection and failure are a normal and healthy part of the process. It’s more prevalent in some occupations, especially in the arts (and particularly among, ahem, writers).

The following examples show a pattern: Persistence pays off. Woody Allen said, “Ninety percent of life is just showing up.” But judging from the tales ahead, perhaps an amendment to this quote is in order: “Ninety percent of success is showing up, and showing up and showing up.”

As for the parties doing the rejecting, for those who shy from the new and different, refusal to look ahead can mean being left in the dust. When a struggling Bell Telephone offered the sale of its patents to Western Union, the famous reply rejecting the offer makes for an entertaining read today: “Why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States?…We see no reason why a group of outsiders, with extravagant and impractical ideas, should be entertained.” Bell Telephone (as AT&T) later acquired Western Union and the wire service’s final telegram was sent in 2006.

Click ahead to discover many examples of successes that almost weren’t, spanning over varying categories: culture, advertising, architecture, business, invention and sports. Chances are you’ll discover that for something (or more than one something) you’ve used or enjoyed, someone has had to fight for it to exist.

Robert Kohlhuber | Vetta | Getty Images