How JK Rowling used failure as her bedrock for future success

JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, talks about how failure in career, marriage and financially, led her to focus on the one area in which she was truly equipped to succeed.

She says that had she not experienced the failure, she might never have gone on to write one the worlds’s most popular series of books.

JK Rowling’s most memorable quotes, taken from the video, include

I talk about the benefits of failure – simply because failure means 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 the only work that mattered to me – the one arena in which I truly belonged – I was set free…

it is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautious you might as well have not lived at all – in which case you have fail by default.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from set backs means that you are, everafter, secure in your ability to survive.

You will never truely know yourself until tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift and it is worth more than any qualification won.

Rock bottom was the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

What can entrepreneurs learn?

Firstly, failure is a part of life and a part of business life. It might be small – you missed out on a contract or sale. Or it might be bigger – your business fails. It might affect your marriage and it affects your finances and the car you drive (or perhaps, for a few years, you just walk).

Secondly, to avoid failing, means taking no risk at all – so means could never achieve anything thing and therefore is failure by default.

Thirdly, having experienced failure, whether small or great, the opportunity is to use it to strip away the inessential parts – to know yourself and focus on what you do brilliantly.

Only when you know what you can do brilliantly can you truly be successful.

Hence, failure is the rock on which all future innovation and long lasting success is based – just as JK Rowling said.

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4 Responses to “How JK Rowling used failure as her bedrock for future success”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rags to Wreckages, Neil Lewis. Neil Lewis said: How JK Rowling used failure as her bedrock for future success – […]

  2. John Dewey, the American educator and social critic said it best: “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” Actually, I’ve never known an entrepreneur whose vocabulary included the word “failure.” They have “a glitch,” this “hit a bump in the road,” they have to “go to Plan B.” But they didn’t “fail”…

  3. Neil Lewis says:

    Thanks Dave – that’s a great quote.

    Interesting that entreprenuers don’t like the word failure…

    Does that mean Entreprenuers aren’t learning as fast as they might?


  4. web archive says:

    I think J. K. Rowling is being less than candid. From what I understand, she has a Master’s Degree and voluntarily went on welfare so she could write. Gee, maybe all writers should do that instead of trying to support themselves with a day job. I am not saying that there isn’t some talent there, obviously she is a good storyteller. But give me a break. Also, everyone in Englad has the availability of government sponsored medical insurance something we don’t have here in the U.S. I know, I sound bitter but although this woman is a good storyteller and has sold millions of books she’s not that great of a writer. Which is probably besides the point. What I am saying is that most of us here in the U.S. don’t have the availability or luxury to be an entrepreneur. We have bills to pay.

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