How Can We Embrace Failure to Better Both Ourselves and Others?


In Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K Rowling, she presents words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in their life. How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others? Having the braveness to fail, she states, is as crucial to an excellent life as any traditional measure of fulfilment; imagining ourselves in the lives of some other–especially someone less fortunate than ourselves–is a uniquely human trait to be nurtured at all costs.

Benefits of failure

The two themes in this book are the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. This is not a dull, formal speech as she uses examples of events from her own life, humour, and her unique, imaginative story-telling to captivate her audience.

One of the messages of the book is to always follow your dreams. If you know that there is something that you are especially good at and want to do, then you should try to do it. She says that her parents didn’t want her to write books because they thought she would not earn enough money. However, when she did stick to her dream she became extremely successful. It is inspirational that, using her own imagination and hard work, she went from being extremely poor to being incredibly successful.

Importance of imagination

Rowling empathises with, but doesn’t romanticise, those in poverty: “Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts—that is something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.” She gives her readers permission to fail: “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.” And most importantly, she emphasises that imagination isn’t a first-world luxury.

Reading duration: 1 hour 39 minutes

While she is well-known for Harry Potter, JK Rowling has undoubtedly one of the most influential success stories in the world. Get Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination from Amazon at $8.04


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