Sunday, June 8, 2008

Thoughts on Failure

I read J.K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Address today and she said some things about failure that were very interesting. You can read her entire speech here. I must confess that I have never read the Harry Potter books - just has not been a real interest for me. This address is so thoughtful and well written as she explores the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. It is definitely worth taking the time to read.

The thing about failure that stuck out to me most was how she told about her own failure a few years after college graduation. She found herself parenting alone and broke. In her words, "...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 into 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 arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realised, 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 the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

Often what we perceive as failure is actually the opportunity to rise to the occasion to live the life we were meant to live.

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