A couple weeks ago I wrote about fearless failing and I supposed it was important to create without thought to the results or fear of failure. As a followup, I'd like to share a speech I saw yesterday in which JK Rowling talks about the benefits of failure:
From the transcript:
"So 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 realised, 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.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. " J.K Rowling
Her moving speech about the fringe benefits of failure, the power of the imagination and the value of friendship made me laugh several times and weep even more.
What does it mean to fail? I suppose, it is something each of us needs to decide for ourselves. Someone's failure could be another's success and vice versa. Sometimes, when I'm down on my life, and I think about how I failed to get a proper career job after my expensive university education, and that this makes me a 'loser'. At other times, I'm thankful I succeeded in evading corporate slavery and that this uncertain path through the dense forest is exactly where I am supposed to be. Compared to many, I am free. I still get to do the things I love. I still get to follow my bliss. I don't work in an office 12 hours a day. I live abroad in Spain, munching on olives and sipping good red wine. I may not always have enough money to pay my bills on time, travel or buy clothes but I do have time to read, think, imagine, write, take photos, explore, watch films and research whatever topic happens to catch my fancy. In many ways, I am blessed because I have been such a 'failure'! Failure has always led me in alternative directions, some delightful, others not so much. Failure has also taught me that I can survive and thrive in spite of it all. So now, as I continue to wander down my precarious trail (my January blues hopefully now behind me), I will try to keep in mind that there is indeed beauty in uncertainty and benefits in failure.
It is my hope that you will remember this too.
"As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters." Seneca
"We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better." J.K Rowling