Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Benefits of Failure

And the benefits of choosing ancient wisdom over career ladders.

Every once in a while I stumble upon something - a video, a poem, a speech, a book - that really inspires me, and calls me back again and again to fill up my creative wellspring which sometimes comes close to running dry.

Set aside a few minutes of your day to listen to J.K. Rowling's brilliant Harvard Commencement Address. I can never finish it without tears. You can also read the entire transcript HERE.

Some highlights:

I was set free because my greatest fear had been realized.

I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

Some failure is inevitable.

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case, you fail by default.

You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity.

Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life.

What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. Plutarch

The great majority of you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice, if you choose to identify not only with the powerful but with the powerless, if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped changed. We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.


BB said...

That was OUTSTANDING. Wow. And that right there is why messing with words is the most amazing and powerful thing one can do. *sigh*

kc dyer said...

And I read today she just announced we can expect a new book sometime soon!


A Novel Woman said...

Whoo HOO! That is good news!!

Debby said...

That was an outstanding speech. I guess that I should take heart. Being at the bottom of the pit, I'm certainly not in danger of falling!

A Novel Woman said...

Debby, you will never be at the bottom of any pit.

I need orange said...


I am going to embed this, too.