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Jill Abramson, recently fired as executive editor of the New York Times, rose above vindictiveness a week later to tell graduates, “We human beings are a lot more resilient than we often realize.”
Graduation ceremonies are all about encouraging future success, but thinking back, I wish somebody had talked to us about failure — namely, finding the strength and heart to put one foot in front of the other after life’s personal and professional disasters.
Author J. K. Rowling a few years ago told Harvard grads about the “benefits of failure.”
“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was 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 I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”
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