A few years ago JK Rowling, author of the best selling Harry Potter novels,  delivered an amazing commencement speech at Harvard University. Titled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”, Rowling describes how seven years after graduating university her marriage had broken down and she found herself an unemployed, single parent living in poverty. She was, in her mind, an abject failure. But hitting rock bottom brought a clarity that changed her life

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 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…

 

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