J.K. Rowling’s “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination”

The Greatest Speeches in History is a weekly column that compiles the most memorable speeches in history with the goal to emphasize the power of public speaking, to illustrate its importance, impact, and necessity to master.

As entrepreneurs, you need to be aware of the power of storytelling and the importance of mastering the art of public speaking. The future of your business is at stake and you will need hours of practice and tons of inspiration and motivation to get ahead in building your public speaking confidence. The greatest speeches that we focus on here are a perfect way to begin.

The start of the column with Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address was no accident as it is one of the most empowering speeches in history. The second speech that we present today is also not an accident – J.K. Rowling’s “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” is powerful in so many ways as it tackles the subject of failure. And failure is something that all entrepreneurs avoid to think about but they should.

The main outtakes from J.K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech that we would like to highlight are as follows:

“Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.”

“I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution.”

“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.”

“You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.”

“One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: ‘What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.’ That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.”

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Watch the whole speech in the video below:

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