Before she “became” J.K. Rowling, Joanne Rowling was an unemployed single mother. She applied for welfare benefits to help take care of her 1-year-old daughter. She was clinically depressed and occasionally contemplated suicide.  

In her own words, she considered herself to be “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.”

Rowling later looked back on that time in her life and said she was “the biggest failure I knew.”

During that same time frame, though, she finally finished her first novel. She submitted it to publishers. Twelve rejected it. The thirteenth publisher took a chance on her.

Just like she had taken a chance on herself.

And now over 500 million copies of J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series have been sold, making it the all-time bestselling book series. On its own, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has sold more than 120 million copies. The Harry Potter movies currently are the highest-grossing film series ever.

And J.K. Rowling is the first author to earn more than $1 billion. This year alone she earned an estimated $54 million from books, movies, theme parks, and stage productions.

What decision did she make that changed her life? According to Rowling

“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.”

Whenever you read a story about successful people, and it’s easy to think they possess some intangible something — talent, ideas, skills, creativity, etc. — that you do not.

But that’s almost never the case. While it’s easy to look back on a path to success and assume that every vision was clear, every plan was perfect, every step was executed flawlessly, and tremendous success was a foregone conclusion… it wasn’t.

Success is never assured. Only when you look back does it appear that way.

If you’re willing to work hard, persevere, and take a chance on yourself, who you are is more than enough. Even if you’re on the extreme downside of advantage. Even if you feel you have nothing going for you. You no longer have to wait — to be accepted, to be promoted, to be selected, to somehow be “discovered.” 

Not anymore.

Access is nearly unlimited; you can connect with almost anyone through social media. You can start your own business. Publish your own work. Distribute your own music. Create your own products. Attract your own funding.

You can do almost anything you want — and you don’t need to wait for someone else to discover your talents.

The only thing holding you back is you… and your willingness to try.

And while you may not become the next J.K. Rowling, that’s okay. 

You can be the first you.

You should be the first you.

Originally published on Inc.

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