The Art and Practice of Failing Successfully

If our greatest fear is to fail, and we organize our lives to avoid failure, we sacrifice knowing our true capabilities and the shape of a flourishing life. In her 2008 Commencement Address at Harvard University entitled “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination” J.K. Rowling asked and answered: “Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because 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.” Rowling’s important insight is that our relationship to failure—especially failing on, what she describes as, “an epic scale”—has the capacity to free us to accomplish the amazing. The goal of this course is to help you develop capacities, skills, and a personal style that transforms the personal meaning of failure, helps you learn what failure teaches, and prepares you to grasp why failure should not be feared. This course fulfills the FYP general education requirement.

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