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.
This comes from Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard University in 2008. She doesn’t specifically mention courage, but it’s unavoidable when you read her statement carefully. In life, she says, we fail, or we default. Every time we fail, we have the choice again: get up and fail again, or stay down and default.
Getting up instead of defaulting, risking another failure, takes courage. But if we fail enough, if we try enough, eventually we will find success. And even if we don’t–we didn’t go down by default.
Most of us can’t be J. K. Rowling. But we can be our best selves. The courage to fail again and again and get back up again and again is a critical quality for anyone who wants to attain that lofty goal.