I have been itching to write about heroes for some time now. Funny, because J.K. Rowlings hadn’t been on my list of those to speak of. I just so happened to stumble across her Harvard commencement speech earlier in the week (which was brilliant, by the way), and then today I saw this old Jon Stewart interview and decided to dig a little deeper.
See, I’ve never read Harry Potter, nor have I read her latest book, The Casual Vacancy. In fact, up until this week I knew very little about Rowlings. And I certainly wouldn’t have considered her an “everyday hero.”
Everyday heroes are “normal” people who do extraordinary things, right? People who have reached “billionaire mom status” are not “everyday people.”
What I found fascinating about Rowlings in the several interviews I have now watched. From the early early days until some of her latest, she, like so many of our heroes, came from very humble beginnings, overcame deep, almost debilitating fear, and even after she was offered $100k for the US rights of the first in the Potter series, was totally clueless about all the success that was still to come.
If, understandably, you don’t have time to watch all the media I have included in this post, here are some of the best takeaways:
Intuition: You MUST follow your gut. Your heart is a better instrument than your head when it comes to trusting your instincts. Rowlings spent seven years working on a project with no promise of it being published. She worked from a place of sheer passion and burning belief.
Failure: Failure can be freeing. It gives you the perspective of, “I have nothing to lose.” Rowlings referred to “rock bottom” as the foundation from which she began.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”
Rejection: The first in the Potter series was rejected by twelve publishers. Rowlings received a $4k advance by the thirteenth publisher and her agent advised her not to get her hopes up on making a life writing children’s books.
Magic: “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
Happiness: This is so Kung Fu Panda;) “The happiest man alive would look into the mirror and see himself as he is.” – Dumbledore
If you don’t have time to watch the full interview, jump in at the spots below to catch some of this “everyday hero’s” extraordinary insight.
@10 min. about struggling motherhood, stroke of insight, belief
@ 30 min. on depression and failure
I think I will likely have to do a whole series on heroes. I’m obsessed with the “underdog story.” I think the hero’s story is a reminder of just how ordinary we all are on our very own extraordinary journeys; albeit, some glorified more than most.
It is these clues, though, that our everyday heroes leave for us to pick up and pocket that we must use as inspiration to step outside the confines of our small boxes, pull people down from our mental pedestals and move forward in the direction of our dreams, no matter how impossible it seems.
I leave you with this: Who do you think of as an everyday hero/es? As distant mentors, watch their interviews, read their work, get to know their fears and doubts, and learn who they are beneath the extraordinary. What can you borrow from them?
#Onward to extraordinary