Redefining Perception of Failure

JK Rowling

Photo Credit: Andrew Montgomery

This post, and quotes, was inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech. Watch it here.

Author, J.K. Rowling said, “Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure. But the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it.”

We’ve all heard about failure. We all know what it is, and more importantly, we all know to avoid it.

But what if I told you that failure has the potential to be the catalyst for something great? What if I told you that failure wasn’t the end of the world? That in fact, it could teach you a lot about life and yourself, often times more than success ever could. It’s time to redefine our perception of failure. It’s time to redefine how negatively it defines us.

I’m no stranger to failure. During my time as an undergraduate student I had to take College Algebra three times before I finally passed. It would have been so easy to just give up, especially after the second time, but I kept going. It taught me to work harder and I developed a stronger work ethic.

Fast forward to Microeconomics a few semesters later…I had to take that class twice since I, you guessed it, failed the first time. This challenge was even more difficult than the first but I knew that if I didn’t let the fear of failure stop me before, why let it stop me now? With a lot of hard work and endless amounts of studying, I passed. And let me tell you, the end result is even more rewarding when you work hard to achieve a goal than if it’s easily attained.

I’m not saying everything in life needs to be difficult and complicated—that would be exhausting—but I’ve learned so much from hard work and dedication.  I’ve learned how capable I am. “You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.” (Rowling)

It’s incredible what you can accomplish when you put your mind (and hard work) to it. I doubt failure will ever be “fun” 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 have not lived at all, in which case you fail by default.” (Rowling)

Our failures may never catapult us to success on J.K. Rowling’s level but we mustn’t be afraid to use our experiences to achieve incredible things. Don’t let the world negatively define failure or give you a set of criteria. You decide. Eventually, we’ll all fail, and when you do, find the motivation to get up, dust yourself off, and keep going. Use it as the catalyst to do and be something great!



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