Success in Failure

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”—J.K. Rowling

Today, I find this quote posted on Positively Positive’s Facebook status.

So I did a little digging.  The quote comes from a commencement speech that J.K. Rowling gave at Harvard.

She said in her commencement address:

“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Even once her book was written, she had a hard time finding a publisher.  Other writers were critical of her work.    Yet, she persevered.  Given the same circumstances, would I?

Giving up is easy.  Blaming others, life. . .Easy.  Allowing our personal hurts to stop us from living. . . Easy!  I can create a thousand good reasons why something won’t work without ever really giving life a chance to prove that I just might be wrong.

The other day, we decided to leave the house and be gone for the afternoon.  The dog hadn’t taken her normal midday potty break.  She wanted to go with us . . . and not relieve herself in the back yard.  I was told that “she won’t go now.  She only wants to go with us.  You can’t get her to go!”

I thought so too, but I still wanted to give it a try.  Nature followed it’s natural course and my attempt was successful.  Had I not tried, I won’t have never known how possible it was.  I tried because I felt like I didn’t have anything left to lose.

It’s easy to talk big here in this post.  It’s much harder to actually take risks in real life.  I can stir up a cloud of objections.   I can fail at risk taking, at stripping away the inessential but since failure is part of the process. . .I need not give up.   A great part of living is “just showing up.”

Maybe we need our failures to really prepare us for our lives.  Maybe without a lot of failure under our belts, our lives would be a lot less satisfying.  Maybe we can’t identify success unless we’ve gotten down and dirty with failure.  Maybe failure isn’t the opposite of success but part of the process?  J.K. Rowling seems to think so.  And, so do I.

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.


I am reading

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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