J.K. Rowling’s latest project is Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. I just finished reading it, and absolutely loved it! I will read anything Ms. Rowling writes, and here she’s sharing something deeply personal. Don’t be afraid to fail, that seems to be the most important message. This book was published for the benefit of Lumos, a charity that Rowling works with that benefits underprivileged children. It’s actually a publication of a commencement speech she gave at Harvard a few years ago. I loved reading it, and although it was very short, it was uplifting and inspiring.
She talks about her upbringing, and why her parents didn’t encourage her desire to write. She doesn’t discourage anyone from following their dreams – they had good reason to believe it was the best thing for her to find a career, something that was more tangible, and paid well. There was no way for them to ever know who she would become. Neither of them had college degrees. She recalls not really telling them what her major had been: “they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day.”
She also briefly describes one of the jobs she had after graduation, and how unfulfilling it was. She worked for Amnesty International and was heartbroken over some of her work in Africa. She also seems to understand how important this was on her journey. Life is not without struggle – that’s something too that she mentions in her speech. It’s humbling, and at the same time empowering.
This was such an inspiring speech she gave to these graduates, and it inspires me too.