WARNING: JK Rowling’s Havard Speech May Change Your Life

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A wonderful friend (top right) sent me this article from Stylist magazine this morning.

This was a girl who lost her dissertation the day before the deadline, rewrote it all that night and got a First Class Degree nonetheless.

A girl who has taught me shovel loads about the power of friendship, strength and courage.

A girl who continues to exemplify the best parts of really living – helping those less fortunate than herself – whether working with rape victims during university or supporting wounded ex-servicemen and their families.

Constantly throwing herself outside her comfort zone, the latest being joining the Army, this is a girl who reminds me what really matters. No surprise, then, that JK Rowling’s Commencement Speech to Harvard in 2008 resonated with her.

Thank you, Alex, for sharing this funny and inspirational graduation address. A true tale of rags to riches, with no loss of heart along the way, it’s no surprise it’s been watched nearly 1.5 million times on YouTube. Now it’s being released as a beautifully illustrated book. From the lessons of struggling (“I was as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless”) to the joy of friendships, Stylist shares some of JK Rowling’s words of wisdom.

On Failure

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“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.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.”

On Imagination

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“If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

On Friendship

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“The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of real trouble, people who have been kind enough not to sue me when I took their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I wish you nothing better than similar friendships.”

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