J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has been in the news quite frequent as of late, due to her recent comments regarding Harry and Hermione's relationship and her wishing that they ended up together. Her comments were polarizing as many fans were shocked that Rowling could say such a thing. It is incredible that her comments can still evoke such a strong reaction in fans when the seventh and last book of the Harry Potter series, the Deathly Hallows, was published nearly seven years ago, and the last movie nearly three years.
Since her rise to fame, Rowling has become famous for many a great things. She is one of the few self-made women billionaires in the world, she is the single most popular author of the century, she has done for literacy what people have been trying to do for years, and she is a genius in the minds of all those who know and understand Harry Potter.
The one thing she is not famous for however, is being a failure. But this is exactly the point that J.K. Rowling made in her interview with Oprah. The interview, which was filmed during the last season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, came after all seven Harry Potter books had been written and published. The two heavy-weight champions sat together and discussed the life they now lived; the life neither imagined they would ever live. They spoke about many things, including the commencement speech Rowling gave at Harvard, which Rowling said was one of the most frighting things she had ever done.
"Failure," says Rowling, "Failure is so important -- it doesn't get spoken about enough. We speak about success all the time, but, you know, I do not know any -- I haven't met -- and I've been so fortunate and met extraordinary people through Harry Potter, and not one of them didn't have their failure -- more than one failure. And it's the ability to resist failure, in many ways, or use failure that often leads to the greatest success, isn't it? So, yeah. Failure. I've often met people who - who are terrified, you know, in a straight jacket of their own making because they'd rather do anything than fail. They don't want to try for fear of failing. Well that's the rock-bottom thing. Rock-bottom wasn't fun -- at all. I'm not going to romanticize rock-bottom, but it was liberating. What did I have to lose?"
Ordinary people might sit there and wonder what exactly is she talking about, how has Rowling ever failed, when by most measures, she is one of the most successful people, ever. A simple sports analogy may help. "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why, I succeed." The owner of these famous words, Micheal Jordon.
All of us -- famous or not -- have had failures in our life. Whether it's not receiving full marks on an exam, not attending the top college, not being valedictorian, not getting the perfect job, not being able to make a relationship work, or not getting to a meeting on time. It is not doing whatever it is you are trying to do, when you are trying to do it, how you are trying to do it, whilst making every effort humanely possible to make it happen. When we think of our failures, we think of the most negative things, we think of it as the worst part of ourselves.
But, in the same breath, failure is absolutely necessary for success, in fact in many ways, it defines success. It's like that hot and cold type of thing, one would never know exactly what hot is without cold, and vice versa. If no one ever failed at anything, we would never be able to appreciate our successes. Most successful people will tell you, the moments that affected them the most, the ones that they will never forgot, were the ones where they failed, because in those moments, you realize exactly what you are made of. Do you rise from the ashes like the phoenix, or do you let yourself be defeated.
Not failing at something takes years of persistence, hard work, relentless effort, failure and belief.
"You know -- I was not the world's most secure person. I wasn't someone with an enormous amount of -- in fact, I'd say I was someone with not much self-belief at all and yet in this one thing in my life, I believed. That was the one thing in my life. I felt 'I can tell a story'," says Rowling, and that she most certainly did.