A round-up of graduation talks filled with wisdom and inspiration, from J.K. Rowling to Steve Jobs to Meryl Streep
It's graduation season, so commencement addresses by actors, politicians, writers, musicians, and other luminaries are sweeping the world of higher education across the entire spectrum of mediocrity and profound wisdom. Let's use this as an invitation to remember some of the most compelling, provocative, and deeply inspirational speeches of years past. Here are five of my all-time favorites.
1. J. K. ROWLING AT HARVARD (2008)
On June 5, 2008, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling speaks about the benefits of failure and the crucial importance of imagination--in a way that isn't the least bit contrived but is, rather, brimming with wit, wisdom, humor, and humility.
"I cannot criticize my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor. And I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is something on which to pride yourself. But poverty itself is romanticized only by fools." ~ J.K. Rowling
"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. [F]ailure means a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself to be anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believe I truly belonged. [R]ock bottom became the solid foundation on which I built my life." ~ J.K. Rowling