The Benefits Of Failure

J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling

We’ve all experienced failure to some or the other extent in our lives. Even the most privileged of us cannot claim that life has been all hunky dory at all times. In her commencement address to the graduating students at Harvard University, J.K. Rowling, author of the phenomenally best selling Harry Potter books, talks about how to use failure to our advantage.

Rowling talks about her 20’s when she faced dark times professionally and in her personal life. She says that her worst fear, that of failure, had come true. Rowling goes on to explain that failure helped her see herself for who she really was, and stop pretending to be anyone other than her true self: “… rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

In this 20-minute talk, she encourages us to focus all our energy on what we truly want to achieve, and by doing this, we would be using failure to our advantage. Failure forces us to become our strongest and most disciplined selves. It also brings to light which relationships we have are the strongest, and who our true friends are.

The other important point Rowling describes is the power of imagination. Imagination isn’t just the ability to see what is not in front of us, but the power to understand experiences that we have never had. This in turn means that we can empathize with people whose experiences we may not share, but can certainly imagine. Rowling urges the graduating class to use their education and position to raise their voices on behalf of those who don’t have those privileges.

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