Monday, June 09, 2008

J. K. Rowling: The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

Witty and influential... cant help but brood over the line of thought, vocabulary and the accent.

You can listen or read about J K Rowling's excellent commencement speech at Harvard, or as I choose to call them words of wisdom HERE

Some quotes:
  1. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
  2. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.
  3. I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.
  4. Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that 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.
  5. 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 rubies.
  6. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children's godparents, the people to whom I've been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I've used their names for Death Eaters.

And so beautifully she ends it by saying:
As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. I wish you all very good lives.


Blogger Praveer said...

The story of her life should be interesting. To have a first hand account from someone who has truly had a 'rags-to-riches' story, would be a lesson in life itself.

8:43 AM, June 09, 2008  
Blogger Bharat said...

that's a great one! I wonder how you are able to get hold of soo many good speeches:)

4:12 AM, June 19, 2008  
Blogger Varun said...

J.K. Rowling’s insight about failure reminds me of one of my favorite maxim’s “Success is how high you bounce after you hit the bottom.” Most successful people talk about the huge failures they have been through and how important they were and how much they learned from them. They reflect on these setbacks in retrospect, looking back. However, when we are experiencing a failure, at that moment, we feel like we are in the depths of a bottomless pit and that there is no way out. Our minds get clouded with negative thoughts and it is extremely hard to see any advantages of our pitiful situation. Nevertheless, we must endeavor to look past the anguish and the disappointment and somehow (magically, maybe?) perceive how our most catastrophic failures have actually helped in our journeys. I can only pray that I get the power to perceive things in such a manner.

9:20 PM, June 25, 2008  
Blogger Abhijit Dharmadhikari said...

This is great!

Thanks for your comments to my images.

3:33 AM, January 26, 2009  

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