Writing on this question in an essay format, I would try to pick out a piece of literature featuring a story of how a memory from a character's past works as motivation for success or for the achievement of some task. And I would pick a memory of my own that works in the same way, as motivation for future goals.
The story of Hercules is the first that comes to mind as one of a past mistake leading to great deeds. (Hercules, in a blind fit of rage, kills his wife and child, then undertakes 12 tasks to pay penance.)
Other stories that feature character's motivated by something from the past: The Great Gatsby; Citizen Kane; Peter Pan; All the King's Men.