Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.
The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.
-- J.K. Rowling, speaking to the Harvard graduating class of 2008
(Rowling's comments on the role of imagination in our moral lives are also worth pondering. "Failure," however, is a theme close to my own heart and experience. Excerpts from Rowling's address may be found at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91232541.)