Very Good Lives, the Fringe Benefits of Failure & the Importance of Imagination

While I was on vacation, I thought I was going to do a lot of reading, it seems, I was wrong. I was not in the reading mindset, and was having trouble disengaging from my inbox this trip. It might have something to do with a lot of busy events in the next few weeks, but nonetheless, reading did not make it into the schedule for me. Even now, instead I am writing. However, I was able to get through Very Good Lives, by JK Rowling in about half an hour. Very Good Lives is the printed version of Jo's 2008 commencement speech given to Harvard Graduates on the Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.

What I enjoyed about this book, other than the fact that it took me less than half an hour to read, was that it touched on two topics that I really related to, and wish I had heard when I graduated last year.

Failure, we are told so often in our educational careers, is a bad thing. Failure would lead to dropping out, and dropping out would lead to difficulty in career choices. People would tell us that failure was ok, but then remind us that we needed certain grades to remain in our program, certain levels of professionalism in order to succeed; therefore failure, was not ok.

There were certain things about my education that were very instrumental in me becoming who I am today, most of them, were not due to my education at all. However, to fail at my education, would have me failing at everything my education brought with it, so failure was not an option in the slightest.

Fast forward a few years, and the quote 'fail hard, but fail fast' is often quoted in my line of work. Failure, it seems, isn't so bad after all. Failure, in it's essence is an opportunity to learn, and gives space for growth. Nobody is perfect, and if they were, they would achieve nothing more than a perfect life.

Growth comes from failure, but do so hard, and fast, and get it over with so you can move onto the next amazing thing that came out of that failure, or something new that the failure was causing you to ignore in replace.

When you hear JK Rowling discuss the importance of imagination, the first assumption is that she believes in its importance as it helped shape her career. While that is part of it, the imagination that one has can lead you to do great things, if you let it.

Imagination is more than just dreaming up creative characters, plot lines and stories, although, I do get lost in there sometimes, especially within Jo's worlds. The ability to imagine a greater place, a new technology, or something out of your scope, is what leads to the generation of amazing ideas, and further more, amazing feats. When you combine the ability to grow from failure, with the imagination to do something greater, your opportunities for growth increase greatly.

And with that sentiment, JK Rowling wants the graduates of Harvard to live Very Good Lives, through growth, and through failure and their imaginations.