Hitting bottom – what happens to all of us when we experience major failure – can be the impetus we need to get up and keep going. After all, the only way to go at that point is up!
J. K. Rowling gave a speech to graduating students at Harvard and spent some time telling her story of failure and what she gained from it. Because, as she said, when she was 21, she wished she’d known that failure has benefits.
At 21, she was torn between what she wanted to do – write novels – and what her parents wanted her to do – learn a vocation. She eventually chose writing over a vocation, and had to experience failure in the process – divorce, joblessness, single parenthood, on the brink of being homeless, and very real poverty.
As she says, poverty is romanticised only by fools; its not ennobling; it entails fear, stress, depression, and a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. But at 21, she didn’t really know this about poverty; and even though her parents were poor, she feared failure much more than poverty.
For a long time, any light at the end of the tunnel was a hope rather than a reality. And what this meant for her was the need to strip away the inessential, conserving her will and her energy for finishing the one thing she cared about. Had she done otherwise, she would never have finished the book. Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which she rebuilt her live.
This is possibly the greatest benefit of failure – hitting bottom. It may be there are a few people who are able to learn and grow without hitting bottom, but I’ve never actually met such a person.
You may not be J. K. Rowling. You may feel that she’s an exception and that others who take the risks she took won’t make it. We all need to know within ourselves when enough is enough. Having said that, without failure, I truly believe that nothing great can be achieved.
As an anonymous cowboy once said: good judgment comes from experience; and experience comes from bad judgment. Without trying, and failing, at least a few times, whatever was won would be more accidental than real, and might not even be noticed.
Quote of the Week
As is a tale, so is life: Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. As a registered psychotherapist and stress coach, I offer individual one-on-one consultations. For more information, visit my websitewww.thejoyofliving.co/programs or contact me directly firstname.lastname@example.org