In previous posts, I wrote about what Harry Potter taught me about myself and about others. For my last post in this series, I’m going to write about what Harry Potter taught me about success.
Success isn’t simple.
I’m a firm believer that success in one area of your life isn’t worth it if it comes at the cost of another. It’s easy to develop tunnel vision when it comes to striving to achieve your goals, but it’s important to remember that achieving your goals alone won’t necessarily mean success. Voldemort had power, intimidation, and at face value was very successful in achieving his goal of being in extreme power. However, he was alone. He didn’t have friends, and the only people who stuck close to him did so more out of fear or obsession than anything positive. Voldemort was so committed to becoming all-powerful that he focused on only that, leading a lonely life because of it. Sacrificing meaningful relationships, happiness, health, or your sanity to maintain your 4.0 just isn’t worth it.
You’ll fail along the way.
If anyone exemplifies this idea, it is the Harry Potter characters. How many times did the “good guys” try to get rid of Voldemort? How many times did Voldemort try to get rid of them? Countless, practically. However, both sides continued to fight for what mattered to them. One side fought for cruelty while the other fought for peace, but still, they didn’t let failure after failure stop them, and their string of failures eventually led to a final success (well, for one side, anyway). Failure is an unavoidable byproduct of working toward something important or doing something you care about. Whether it be to defeat an evil lord or get a job you love, you’re not going to get the “happy ending” you want without some unhappy circumstances beforehand.
Sometimes you need to break the rules.
Sometimes authority just needs to be challenged. Sometimes the status quo should be thrown out. And sometimes, the way to succeed is to forget the rules and follow your own. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione broke into Bellatrix’s vault at Gringotts to search for a horcrux, Harry used the imperius curse on a goblin so they could get inside. The imperius curse is one of the unforgivable curses, so named because it is considered so awful that its use is an unforgivable offense and will land you a lifelong prison sentence. However, they may not have gotten to the vault without its use. While this act wasn’t necessarily ethical or moral, arguably, Harry had no choice. Sometimes you can’t get where you want to be from inside the confines of what’s expected, what’s always been done, or what is deemed correct. While I don’t condone breaking laws that exist to protect others, there are times when established systems might not allow for the success you seek. When that happens, consider developing your own system instead.
We have about 1 million words detailing the experience of the Harry Potter characters (I got that number from Yahoo Answers, so it must be right). In those words, we find countless lessons that can guide our decisions, actions, and feelings toward others, ourselves, and success. The situations in your life may not involve defeating a dark lord or manipulating the world with magic, but the story of Harry Potter can still provide with wisdom you can apply to your own muggle life.