Monday, November 3, 2008

The Fringe Benefits of Failure

J.K. Rowling, in her 2008 speech at Harvard's Commencement ceremony, has some great insight into what she calls "the fringe benefits of failure." She makes an interesting point that there is a liberating quality to failure in that it helps you shed any fear and caution that may be keeping you wedded to a more risk averse life. In her words, if she had succeeded at anything else, she probably would not have had the courage to do what she really wanted to do. For Rowling, failure had meant a stripping away of the inessential and a liberation from that pragmatic urge that captures so many of us. What is important in her point is that it is the way we approach failure and our wilingness to take risks that affects our ultimate success. You can do just fine in life playing it safe as most people do, but those who will rise to the top are almost always willing to take risks. In Rowling's case, this led her to embark on the Harry Potter series that has made her the only billionaire author in the world with over 400 million copies sold. See both parts of her commencment speech below:

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