Monday, April 06, 2009

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination

This is the Commencement Address delivered by J.K. Rowling to the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association: Here

Steve Jobs delivered a similar talk to Stanford grads in 2005 and what I found amazing is the theme these talks share: both of them emphasize about the importance of failure, and the need to do what one loves.

Here is an excerpt of what Rowling said:

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 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.
Compare this with what Jobs said (the transcript is here):

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

When time is tough, persist, and be yourself.


The Soothsayer said...

I've been failing to plan my whole life... YES!

Cuppa Chai said...

Oh man, you will succeed beyond your wildest dream, so keep dreaming :P