• Sarah Yoo

5 Inspirational Lessons of Failure - What J.K Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech Can Teach Us



When we hear the name, J.K Rowling, our thoughts immediately turn to her extraordinary success as the world’s first billionaire author.


Yet few of us are aware of her difficult past.


She came from a family where her imagination and love for writing was seen as "an amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.”


In her mid-twenties, she struggled with depression as she experienced the lowest points of her life:


“I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.”

But in her inspirational Harvard commencement speech, she shared that it was through her failures that she gained valuable knowledge about herself and the courage to face adversity and turn it into success.


Maybe it was fate but I came across her speech at a time that I needed to hear it the most.


Recently, I’ve been struggling with the discrepancy between my current reality and where I was hoping (*expecting*) I would be in my life. I had this idea that I would be incredibly successful in my career, have had achieved all my dreams with a ton of money in three years.


Rowling’s story helped me see that anything worthwhile takes time to build.


I learned that Rowling got the idea of Harry Potter when she was 25, published the first book 'Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone' when she was 32 and completed the series when she was 42.


It was a 17-year journey.


The words in her brilliant yet vulnerable speech went beyond the cliches of careers advice and helped to ease the anxious and struggling mind of lost souls like mine.