Inspiration | Writing

What does great success and great failure teach us?

April 30, 2014

Like clouds, success and failure are both transient. Yet many of us stake our whole careers, and even lives, on these two events. With success comes praise, recognition, and a feeling of accomplishment. We have done it, and everyone loves us. But then what? Can we do it again? And with failure, there is rejection, loneliness, and a feeling of devistation. We wonder if there is something inherently wrong with us. Can we continue in the face of constant dissmissal?

I was watching Elizabeth Gilbert’s new TED Talk and she uliminates how to keep creating, no matter how much success or failure we experience. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it here.

The lesson we can learn from great succes and great failure is this: Do what you love MORE than success or failure because in the end that is what will keep you going.

Here are some examples of people doing just that:

Tiger Woods

We all know this man was born to play golf. He is in his element when he’s at the tee with an impossibly long drive ahead of him. His focus is unmatched and that enabled him to win four major tournaments in the same year. By all standards, he was a huge success by the time he was 24 years old. We all know about his fall from glory in 2009 when the world discovered about his double life. He lost the respect of his fans and colleagues and many people would said that he failed big time. But he kept playing golf, and he will keep playing golf because it’s what he loves to do.

J.K. Rowling

A struggling single mother with a story in her heart about a boy wizard who was an outcast that many publishers thought would go no where, she was very familar with rejection and failure. Her manuscript was turned down 12 times. With a daughter who relied on her and no job prospects, should she continue pursuing this idea of writing novels for a living? She loved her character Harry Potter more than its apparent failure. Watch her Harvard commencement speech in 2010 on the benefits of failure here. We also know that Harry Potter went on to become the beloved character of millions around the world. J.K. Rowling was thrust into the spotlight and massive success by any definition. How could she follow up on the success of Harry Potter? Her first novel after Harry Potter did not receive the same level of success but she kept on writing, and she has stated that she will continue to write because it’s what she loves to do.

What do you love more than any success or failure you may receive? If it’s writing, like it is for Elizabeth Gilbert, J.K. Rowling, and myself, you will know if you keep coming back to the page no matter what people think about it. Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.