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How JK Rowling teaches us failure is a good thing

The Harry Potter author famously spelt out to a group of Harvard students how failure was inevitable but could create an inner strength to succeed. Younger Members London’s Jatinder Singh agrees that failure should be seen as a “good thing”.

Jatinder Singh

January 2020

We often see failure as something to avoid at all costs - the disapproval of others, not getting what we want in life, being rejected, not thinking we are good enough.

But what if we associate failure with being a good thing? What if we know the failure we are going through right now is a part of us becoming more successful in the future?

In her famous address to Harvard students in 2011, JK Rowling said: “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 have failed by default.

“Failure gave me an inner security that I had never obtained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things that I could not have learned any other way. I discovered I had a strong will and more discipline than I had suspected.

The wisdom she shares has come through tough experiences, not from an academic development book. It is powerful wisdom that should be taught to every professional.

In particular, she describes how failure liberated her and how she survived. As she says: “Rock bottom became a solid foundation to rebuild my life.

Yet how many people still fear failure? And how does it hold you back personally? If you look at most successful people, they live by the following creed!

If you haven’t failed yet you haven’t been pushing yourself hard enough!

Only when you push yourself will you know what your true potential is. It may be scary, but as JK Rowling says, what’s even scarier is staying in a small “comfort zone” for the rest of our lives.

To watch the full video of her address, click here.

Jatinder Singh ACA is a career and leadership mentor, and member of ICAEW Young Members London

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