J.K. Rowling and the benefits of failure

I have a subscription to Reader’s Digest which is full of funny anecdotes but also meaningful articles. The story that really got my attention today was an excerpt from the book
Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling, (of Harry Potter fame.) She made some good points that I have also heard from my therapist, (who is really wise!) I’ve actually had them on my list of ideas for this blog, so seeing this article today prompted me to write.

If you are familiar with Rowling’s background, you may know that she struggled as a single mother in poverty before she hit it HUGE with her books. Wouldn’t we all love to have that kind of rags to riches story? I know I would! (Although I’d stick with just rags to comfortable….)

There were three big points that stood out to me today in this excerpt from her book. One: She says that she was already living her greatest fear–poverty–so she had nothing else to fear when she took her risk to work on her books. This so true. Sometimes we have to be in a really bad place before we get desperate enough to take the risks and make the changes that will give us our best lives. If we didn’t have anything else to fear, I wonder how many huge leaps we would make towards success?

Two: she points out that if she had “really succeeded at anything else, [she] might never have found the determination to succeed” at writing. What a great way to think of “failure” in other jobs or careers. As I’ve written a couple times before, sometimes we waste time in the wrong places and they keep us away from the right places. We are taught that failure is a terrible thing, but maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. I know that if I hadn’t lost my “real” job last year, I’d still be wallowing in a dead-end job instead of feeling excited about chasing my real dreams.

And finally three: This is a big one that I learned first from my therapist and then from life. Rowling says “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive.” So true! I’ve been through some very rough times in the past couple years, but when I look back and realize all I survived and just how strong I was, it lets me face the future with less fear. I’ve made it before and that means I can make it again.

This Reader’s Digest clip is only one page long, yet so full of wisdom and inspiration. I just ordered the whole book because I want to learn from Rowling’s success story! There is so much we can learn by listening to people who have survived and succeeded–especially if their lives and/or goals are similar to ours. I will report back after I read it!

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