Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

J.K. Rowling on Failure

2 Comments

From Jk Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard (courtesy of Boingboing.net:

The fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure….

I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality. So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because 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 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 the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. ,…Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way….Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned….

Some useful thought for Us, I think.

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2 thoughts on “J.K. Rowling on Failure

  1. I have never read anything that she has written about HERSELF – really well done – thought provoking – sort of the “hitting bottom” idea – but not really – because stripping everything away isn’t exactly the same as hitting bottom – thanks for sharing.

  2. This is great, thanks for calling my attention to it. I think that it’s an incredible lesson, plus of course I love anything that reminds me of Harry Potter. 🙂

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