the_elephant_houseHarry Potter: ‘Born’ at The Elephant House’ cafe

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.” ~ J.K. Rowling, 2008 Harvard University Commencement Address

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, is one of my personal heroes.

Not only because she wrote something that captured the imagination of millions worldwide (a personal goal of mine), and not only because she now has more money than God, but because she truly understands the value of “failure and imagination.”

This was the theme of her Harvard University commencement address, and she delivered it with great humor, humility and poignancy.

Before I saw the video evidence of her words, I read them while loitering at my local book store, in Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. This small gem of a publication holds the entirety of her speech, and I sat spell-bound (pun intended) until I had read the whole thing right then and there.

Later, I searched the internet for the actual event, because I wanted to hear what I had read and absorb it again with the intonations of her voice and the charm of her delivery.

She said many things that struck a chord with me, but one most important idea was that: after her greatest fear in life was realized—to be a failure—she was still alive. There was opportunity for more!

She still had her imagination, which lifted her to the level of success she has achieved as a novelist.

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