Posted on August 12, 2015 at 12:35 AM comments (0)
I just finished reading the Commencement address by J.K. Rowling given to the Harvard class of 2008 in England. I read it because the title caught my eye, ‘Very Good Lives’ and I must say because it was a small book. I’m already reading 4 books and can’t bear to add another right now.
As I began to read it, realizing it was a commencement address, I almost put it down. Then I decided, I’m in the midst of starting a new chapter in my life, as if I’m a new graduate, so why not see what inspiration she has to offer. She only had 2 points: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.
I won’t spoil it for you, but what I got out of it was frankly clever. She talked about how you really find out what you’re made of when you fail. Not so much the lessons, etc. that everyone else speaks of, but rather internally what you learn about yourself. How you learn what really matters, and what is important to you. She learned that she was more disciplined than she thought she was. Then there was imagination, how if you don’t have an imagination how can you ever truly understand someone else. You can hear them, but if you can’t imagine what it is they are going through, overcame, destroyed or lost how can you empathize with what they are feeling. I thought that was some powerful stuff.
There was a small part where she, in parenthesis, explains her parents. This is where the Career striving part comes into play. She explains how her parents weren’t against her becoming a writer because she had no talent or that they didn’t believe in her. They didn’t want her to become a writer because they didn’t want their daughter to experience poverty. Neither of her parents had gone to college and had been poor (J.K Rowling’s words), so they just didn’t want that for their daughter. When I read this I realized most people, when you share the idea you have for yourself – becoming CEO, training to become upper management, changing companies to be on a different track – the people who try and deter you by pointing out what you don’t have and what you will need are trying to shield you from poverty (poverty being: disappointment, failure, losing the what you have already achieved).
Yes, some of their negativity is from their fear for themselves coming out at you, but in a lot of cases they are like J.K’s parents and just don’t want you to experience poverty in any way shape or form.
So, as she talks about in the speech, don’t blame them for their guidance or criticize them for their lack of motivation. Instead, take it in stride thank them for it then determine your own way. Sometimes, it’s good to share just to know someone cares so much about you. If your actions make them right, it’s still a win-win. You will learn what you’re made of through failure and begin to lean on your imagination to get you out.