This morning I was at the gym and I caught a few minutes of an interview Matt Lauer was doing with J.K. Rowling. She gave a commencement speech at Harvard a few years back, 2008 to be exact, and the theme was on the “benefits of failure” and “crucial importance of imagination.” Below is an excerpt from her speech that touches at the very heart of what she was wanted to convey to the Harvard grads.
“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 realized, 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.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.
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 the price of rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more than any qualification I ever earned.” – J.K. Rowling
Powerful words. Some failure in life is inevitable. I have often heard people quoted as saying, “Failure is not an option” or “The word failure is not in our vocabulary.” We are essentially telling ourselves, and in turn teaching our children, to fear failure instead of learning from it and embracing it. If we do not view failure as a good thing then it will blind side us. It will bring us to our knees and possibly consume us.
Well, not on my watch, Diary. The word failure IS in my vocabulary. I plan to take risks, accept failure, and then take some more risks. So, thanks J.K. for inspiring me to continue to take risks and be a bit better prepared for failure.
|Goal||Reality||Grade||Change Needed for Next Week|
|Sleep 8 hours||Getting 7-8 hours of zzz’s every night||A||Continue sleeping at least 7 hours/4 nights per week & 8 hours/3 nights a week|
|Eat Breakfast & No Night Snacking||Breakfast is no problem but the night snacking got me the last 2 days…damn tortilla chips!||B||No snacking after 7:30 pm unless it’s fruit or veg…be sure to have plenty of containers of cut up veggies|
|Exercise||Took a class at the gym, cardio||B+||Planning to sign-up for a 10K since the half-marathon was a great way to motivate me to get in more cardio|
|Write Down What I Eat||I finally wrote down 2 days’ worth of eating/drinking||B||Got past the mental block and plan to continue with writing down what I eat to help keep me accountable|
|Weigh Weekly||Yes, it’s true…I gained 0.5lbs||C||Made an appointment with my MD to discuss checking hormone levels…need to know if something might be off kilter|
|Get & Give Support||I am re-motivated by the J.K. and view this failure as an opportunity to learn more||A||Keep spreading awareness that failure can actually be a good thing…it’s what you do after you fail that counts|
|Stress Management||No yoga class happened but I did walk several times and I am breathing through stressful situations better||B||Yoga…I really need to find a way to fit it into my crazy schedule!|