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I used to be so terrified of failure, that I'd practically kill myself working.

I couldn't stand the idea that I'd fail at something and others would see. It felt like the right thing to just keep working. It was like treading water, I was afraid to stop in case I just sank to the bottom like a rock in a dark lake.

At a certain point in my not so distant past, I sank. Things were pretty terrible for me, and couldn't get a whole lot worse.

Everything was going wrong. I was taking terrible care of myself, I was completely depressed, completely broke, and felt like everything was out of my control. To put it bluntly, things really sucked. 

Rock bottom is where some of the most famous success stories of entrepreneurs overcoming massive odds came from. JK Rowling is a prime example. From Wikipedia:

Seven years after graduating from university, Rowling saw herself as, “the biggest failure I knew”. Her marriage had failed, she was jobless with a dependent child, but she described her failure as liberating:

"Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

During this period Rowling was diagnosed with clinical depression, and contemplated suicide. It was the feeling of her illness which brought her the idea of Dementors, soul-sucking creatures introduced in the third book. Rowling signed up for welfare benefits, describing her economic status as being “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.”

Surely you know the rest of her story. To me the part that hits the hardest is,

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me.

When things are really really hard, it's actually a blessing (although it sure doesn't feel that way). Because all the crap goes out the window. What doesn't really matter, just stops mattering entirely, and what is important becomes crystal clear.

But, for those who have gone through this experience and really paid attention and stayed present during it (which is incredibly hard), when things start to improve, you do not forget what you learned and go back to old patterns. That singular focus stays with you. I think this is one reason why people have overcome huge adversity and found incredible success. They took away the all-important truth and inner knowing of what actually matters, and the singular focus. 

When things get too busy or complicated in life, you can go back to that place (in a positive way) and remember where you need to focus, and what is really important.

Where can you start to clear?

What can you strip out?

What is lingering in you that feels stale and old?

What are you holding onto that just flat out isn't important?

 

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