JK Rowling, author of the best-selling children’s book series “Harry Potter,” knows a lot about achieving success.
But one thing she wishes she’d been warned about early on was how to handle failure.
“I don’t think we talk about failure enough,” Rowling recently told Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” show. “It would have really helped to have someone who had had a measure of success come say to me, ‘You will fail. That’s inevitable. It’s what you do with it.'”
Before Rowling became one of the wealthiest women in the world, she was a single mum living off welfare in the UK. She began writing about her now-famous character, the young wizard Harry Potter, in Edinburgh cafes, and received “loads” of rejections from book publishers when she first sent out the manuscript, The Guardian reports.
Rowling previously addressed the subject of failure in a 2008 Harvard University commencement speech, which has been watched on YouTube more than 1.5 million times. Referring to her rough start, she said: “An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless … By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”
She went on to say that she considered her early failure a “gift” that was “painfully won,” since she gained valuable knowledge about herself and her relationships through the adversity.
Rowling told Lauer that the Harvard speech was one of her proudest moments because it initially scared her. “I’m normally proudest of myself after I’ve done something that frightens me,” she said. “I believe in courage, and I think that it’s the virtue that ensures all the others, as Winston Churchill said.”
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