Research the backstories behind some of your favourite idols and you’ll probably find that their success story was a happy, yet unforeseen result of hitting rock bottom. As humans, it’s in our nature to fall hook line and sinker for a heartfelt rags to riches story. Very rarely in any industry or business do you come across a brand or person who is both aspirational and relatable, other than in the “under dog” stories. We know what it’s like to feel their lows, we aspire to be more like them as we follow their rise to success. If they can, why can’t we?! I believe that failure is often inevitable. I also believe that some of the best work ever created stems from dark, troublesome times.
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“Rock bottom became the solid foundation upon which I rebuilt my life.”
J. K. Rowling’s path to success is a story well told. Generally speaking few would expect a respectable university graduate from a decent, middle class family to fail to the extents that she did. Something that the author herself states in her Harvard speech “The Fringe Benefits of Failure”. An unlikelier tale is how a penniless single mother with no prospects could become one of the greatest authors of our time! Had Joanne Rowling’s life not been pierced by failure’s painful sting, would she have felt the passion and hunger to imagine Harry Potter, let alone write it?
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Failure evokes many questions, in particular “what ifs”. What if these people had never suffered these unfortunate experiences and the world was deprived of their heroic masterpieces? A fate quite possibly more tragic! When put like that, it almost makes you want to hunt out failure in the hope that it brings with it a positive, life changing epiphany! There are people who genuinely fail at something and there are those who consciously choose to fail. The exact division that separates the two isn’t always clear.
In between all of the conscious positive and negative choices we make, life happens. Can we really call an incident “failure” if it’s just a fact of life? Is our belief that we’re doing the right thing, even if it results in the F-word, better than not doing anything at all? The one who falls victim to failure, accepts but doesn’t glorify their experience. They who set out to fail see losing as something more victorious than succeeding, usually because they’re afraid of success.
Nike’s iconic motto: “Just Do It” really is the pivotal point from which you can change your situation and take back control. The depths of sorrow thrive off of self-doubt and despair. Choosing whether or not to act depends on whether or not you want to feed the negativity! On that note, I highly recommend reading “Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination” – a light but inspiring read by one of my all time favourite writers!