On her 50th birthday, this is a tribute to the person who has inspired me the most.
“I think it fair to say, by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, 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.”
Doesn’t sound like much of a success story does it?
Well life is what you make of it, and quite literally, she wanted to make magic. And she did!
She had an old typewriter and a big idea. Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which she built her life.
She built hers, and inspired several others across the world.
Since 7 is the number that goes around in the Harry Potter world, here are 7 pieces of life advice from J K Rowling:
- On taking responsibility:
There is an expiry date for blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction. The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, the responsibility lies with you.
- On struggle:
Just because you are young, gifted and well educated does not mean that you have never known heartbreak, hardship or heartache. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the faith.
- On failure:
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 you fail by default.
- On learning from setbacks:
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. When you are still alive after your greatest fear has been realises, it sets you free. It teaches you things about yourself that you could not have learnt any other way. The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are ever after secure in your ability to survive.
- On the people around us:
We have an inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.
- On the power of imagination:
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.
- On magic and changing the world:
We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.
Imagination knows no boundaries, and she is living proof of that.
Coincidentally, July 31st is also our dear Mr Potter’s birthday; so happy birthday Harry!
PS: Most of these are from her book: “Very Good Lives- The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination” and her Harvard Commencement Speech 2008 that you can watch here: