Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thin Line Between Failure and Success

Your perception of failure might not be too far removed
from the average person’s idea of success.
J.K. Rowling

Before you leave this world, go to YouTube and watch J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard University. Joanne Rowling (affectionately known to me as “JoRo”) makes a good point as shown above: the things we perceive to be failure just might be another’s idea of success. I know people who lost their dream homes and feel as though they are a failure. While they sadly packed all their belongings in cardboard boxes, it probably never occurred to them that some people live in cardboard boxes.

JoRo found herself with a failed marriage, a failed career and what she perceived to be a failed life. But, she said at Harvard, “had I really succeeded at anything else, I might not have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I felt I truly belonged.” What was that area, you might ask? Writing. JoRo wrote her first book at age six. She even asked her mom if she could publish the book. JoRo’s parents grew up poor and, fearing their daughter could not find success as a writer, they encouraged her to pursue a more lucrative career. Yet at the age of six she had The Vision of being a published author!

JoRo describes failure as ‘the stripping away of the unessential.’ Her greatest fear had been realized and to her surprise, she was still alive and she still had her daughter whom she adored. The only other thing she had was an old typewriter and a big idea. And the rest, as they say, is history. Before you get too happy, allow me to ask two questions. What would have happened had she sat on her idea? What will happen if you sit on your idea?

JoRo explained to the graduating class: “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.” Fear of failing will keep you in a place of mediocrity. This is the reason our comfort zone has to become uncomfortable; otherwise we might never move. That’s exactly where I was on April 5, 2002. My husband emailed me at work to say, “God just told me to quit my job.” I hit the reply key and responded, “That just witnessed with my spirit.” As soon as the reply was sent something on my inside said, “Now you go give your resignation too.” I said to myself, “The devil is a lie!!!!” I had faith for him to leave his job because I made enough money to hold down the household. But if we both walked away from our jobs, how could I maintain my lifestyle? Chances are I’d become a failure! And I refused to take that chance.

My comfort zone quickly got very uncomfortable, and in less than six months I was more than ready to make a move. When I think of my accomplishments from 2002 until the present, JoRo’s words ring true. I had determined to live my life so cautiously that I might as well not have lived at all. I was about to exchange my appointment with destiny for a twice monthly automatic deposit. I wanted The Vision but I also wanted the paycheck. I couldn’t have it both ways. It is clear now that my job was stifling My Vision. In addition to having a very good job making even better money, I had done well at other ventures in life, all of which never seemed to last. But had I succeeded at any of those things, I too, might not have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged: that is, doing whatever needed to be done so that my life might intersect with yours at this point in time.