The Benefits of Failure: J K Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech

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There is such pressure on us all to be a complete success in all we do. “Failure is not an option” is an oft-heard expression from parents and in business. However, sometimes failure is an intrinsically important part of success, as we can all learn so much from our mistakes. Author J K Rowling struggled enormously prior to the world-wide explosion of the Harry Potter series of books. Her manuscripts were rejected from many publishing houses prior to the eventual purchase by Bloomsbury.

When Rowling was younger her parents wanted her to study vocational subjects at university as they didn’t believe that her desire to become a writer could ever sustain her through her life. Fortunately she was headstrong and resolute in her decision to study English Literature, and steered her own course. We are very glad that she did. Here she gives a very refreshing and fascinating perspective on her success, delivered with humour and humility.

J K Rowling’s secret to success shows an unwavering self belief and a single-mindedness that never bowed under the strain of family pressure and repeated failure. What an inspiration!

Find out about other inspirational people who achieved amazing things against the odds at

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo

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