Success stories–comprehension

Every success story is also a story of great failures – Comprehension passages

Click ‘play’ to listen to the text ‘Every success story is also a story of great failures’.

Passage – 1

If you study history, you will find that all stories of success are also stories of great failures. But people don’t see the failures. They only see one side of the picture and they say that person got lucky. He must have been at the right place at the right time.

1. What does ‘one side of the picture’ mean here?

‘One side of the picture’ means ‘only the success of a person’.

2.According to the passage, what happens when a person is at the right place and at the right time?

That person is lucky and he gets success easily.

3. Do you think a person should be at a right place and right time to be lucky?

No, I don’t think so.

4. What does history tell us?

History tells us that every successful person has had failures.

Passage – 2

‘But to Lincoln, defeat was a detour and not a dead end.”

1. What does this line mean?

It means that defeat or failure does not mean it is the end but we need to try another possible course of action to be successful.

2. What does ‘detour’ actually mean?

‘Detour’ is the longer route that we take in order to avoid danger or risk.

3. How did Lincoln succeed in the end?

Lincoln succeeded by becoming the president of the United States of America.

Success stories
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.

Passage – 3

In 1913, Lee De Forest, the inventor of the triodes tube, was charged by the district attorney for using fraudulent means to mislead the public into buying the stocks of his company by claiming that he could transmit human voice across the Atlantic. He was publicly humiliated. Can you imagine where we would be without his invention?

1. What did Lee De Forest invent?

Lee De Forest invented ‘triodes tube’.

2. What do triodes tubes do?

‘Triodes tubes’ amplify sound (= make sound louder) and help in long distance telephone calls.

3. How do you understand ‘district attorney’?

District attorney is/was a lawyer who can/could bring someone to court for something illegal.

4. What was the claim made by Lee De Forest?

The claim made by Lee De Forest was that he could transmit human voice across the Atlantic.

5. What does ‘humiliated’ mean here?

‘Humiliated’ means ‘insulted’.

Passage – 4

A New York Times editorial on December 10, 1903, questioned the wisdom of the Wright Brothers who were trying to invent a machine heavier than air, that would fly. One week later, at Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers took their famous flight.

1. Who questioned the wisdom of the Wright Brothers?

A New York Times Editorial.

2. What were the Wright Brothers trying to invent?

They were trying to invent a machine heavier than air that could fly.

3. Were the Wright Brothers successful in their efforts?

Yes, they were successful in their efforts.

4. Why could the people not believe in the Wright Brothers’ efforts?

…because people could not believe that anything heavier than air could fly.

Passage – 5

He remembered his mother’s recipe and went out selling. How many doors did he have to knock on before he got his first order? It is estimated that he had knocked on more than a thousand doors before he got his first order. How many of us quit after three tries, ten tries, a hundred tries, and then we say we tried as hard as we could?

1. Who is the man mentioned here in the passage?

‘He’ is Colonel Sanders.

2. Which quality of the man made him successful?


3. Why did he knock on many doors?

He knocked on many doors to sell the recipe that he had learnt from his mother. / He knocked on many doors to find a business partner to sell his mother’s recipe.

4. How old was he when he started his business?

He was 65 years old when he started his business.

5. What did he have when he thought of business? / What were his assets?

His assets were a $100 cheque and a beat-up car.

Passage – 6

As a young cartoonist, Walt Disney faced many rejections from newspaper editors, who said he had not talent. One day a minister at a church hired him to draw some cartoons. Disney was working out of a small mouse infested shed near the church. After seeing a small mouse, he was inspired. That was the start of Mickey Mouse.

1. Why did Disney go to newspaper editors?

He went to them to ask for a job/position as a cartoonist.

2. Why did they reject him?

They rejected him because they thought he had no talent.

3. What was the opportunity that brought out Disney’s talent?

It was the church minister asking him to draw some cartoons.

4. How was Disney inspired by a small mouse?

On seeing a small mouse, Disney designed Micky Mouse.

5. Who inspired Disney?

A small mouse inspired Disney.

Passage – 7

One day, a partially deaf four year old kid came home with a not in his pocket from his teacher, “Your Tommy is too stupid to learn, get him out of the school.”

1. What is the antonym of ‘partial’ here?

The antonym of ‘partial’ is ‘complete’.

2. Why did the teacher think the boy should be sent out of the school?

…because he/she thought he (the boy) was stupid.

3. What was the message that the note contained?

The message was “Tommy was too stupid to learn and he should be sent out of school.”

4. What was the disability that the boy had?

He was partially deaf. / The disability was ‘partial deafness’.

5. How many months of formal schooling did the boy have?

Three months.

6. Who is referred to as ‘Tommy’ here?

Tommy is ‘Thomas Edison’.

7. What invention of Edison made him famous?

The invention of light bulb made him famous.

Passage- 8

Henry Ford forgot to put the reverse gear in the first car he made.

1. Who was Henry Ford?

Henry Ford was the founder of ‘Ford Motors’, a vehicle making company.

2. Can you think of some words that rhyme with ‘gear’ in the above line?

‘fear’, ‘near’, ‘dear’.

3. Why do you think Henry Ford forgot to put the reverse gear in the first car he made?

I think he did not feel/imagine the necessity of having a reverse gear. / I think it was not possible for him to put a reverse gear.

Passage – 9

All success stories are stories of great failures. The only difference is that every time they failed, they bounced back. This is called failing forward, rather than backward. You learn and move forward. Learn from your failure and keep moving.

1. What does ‘bounce back’ mean?

‘Bounce back’ means ‘recover from failure and move forward.

2. What does ‘fail forward’ mean?

‘Fail forward’ means ‘learn from failures and move forward’.

3. Who fail forward?

Successful people fail forward.

Passage – 10

In spite of the disaster, three weeks later, he invented the phonograph. What an attitude!

1. Who is ‘he’ here?

‘He’ is Thomas Alva Edison.

2. What was the disaster?

The disaster was Edison’s factory getting burnt in fire.

3. What is Edison’s attitude towards the disaster?

Edison thought ‘There is a great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up. We can start anew.”

4. What is phonograph?

Phonograph is a record player / Phonograph is a piece of equipment for playing records in order to listen to the sound

5 thoughts on “Success stories–comprehension”

  1. Fabulous job is done by you sir, indeedly marvellous, pls keep it up and do more more
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