J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard in her Commencement Address about the Benefits of Failure

Interesting speech by J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter books, about the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. This was her Commencement Address at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in 2008.

Here are two excerpts which I like:

The first one is about a humble attitude towards life and achievements: “…personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

In the end J.K.Rowling appeals to the Harvard graduates to think and help the powerless: “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 change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

There is also a transcript of the whole speech “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination“.