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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Benefits Of Failure, Importance Of Imagination

Novelist J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling "Harry Potter" series, gave this entertaining and powerful commencement address at Harvard University a few days ago.

Not a fan of the fantasy genre myself (prefer spacey stuff), but Rowling's speech is a measured retrospective of personal setbacks and triumphs that is a refreshing departure from the usual "reach for the skies tiger!" kind of crap that passes as motivational talks nowadays.

My favourite part is:

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 already 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.


Pipette tip to BackStage.

Would you like to know more?
Complete transcript and video (Harvard Magazine)