This is J. K. Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement speech, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination.” It’s one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard. Watch and then watch again. Read the full text here.
Two quotes that in no way can do justice to the whole thing.
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.
. . .
Though I personally will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.
One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books.