Dare to fail … and other advice from JK Rowling

I love TED talks. I try and watch them whenever I need new ideas. They’re on video, and they tend to last about 20 minutes, and they’re given by people with something to say, about something that means a lot to them. They help explain the world, and on a good day they help make it better.

Recently, I discovered this Commencement Address that JK Rowling gave at the meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in 2008. You may have seen it already. In it, she talks about the fringe benefits of failure, and the power of the imagination. As we all know, Jo Rowling isn’t bad at telling stories. Turns out, she’s not bad at giving speeches too. If you need a bit of inspiration in your life, check this one out. And if you’re worried about exams at the moment, be reassured.

Here’s a link to the video


And this is the text, if you’d rather just read it through. (But see her on video if you can. She delivers it beautifully. And she’s really funny. I love that.)

This is one of the passages from the speech, quoted on her website:

β€˜You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life 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.

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. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

As a mother of three children with exams coming up, it’s not that I don’t recommend revising. I do! But if it all doesn’t go according to plan, it’s not the end of everything. In fact, it might be the start of something. So take heart, and remember that with the power of your imagination, you can change the world.

6 thoughts on “Dare to fail … and other advice from JK Rowling

  1. J.K is AMAZING! She gives out wonderful advice, such like everyone on this site! πŸ˜€ I really admire all of you! πŸ˜€

    My thing is, never let mistakes get you down. When you fail at something first, you’ll get another thing right, and that will make you feel better than you might have done if you had got the first thing right. πŸ™‚

  2. Or as Anne in Anne of Green Gables says “There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.”

    Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942)

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