June 26th, 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter* book. In the two decades since it’s release, this series has gone on to become a cultural touchstone for millions of people around the world. As with many morality tales, the Harry Potter series focuses on the struggle of good over evil.
However, clocking in at over a million words, there are more concrete lessons to be learned from Harry Potter than “good triumphs over evil.” Here are 7 tips from the Harry Potter series which you can apply to your workplace life.
1) Help Out Your Peers
The central relationship in the series is between three friends: Harry, Ron and Hermione. However, at the start of the first book, Hermione is an outsider to the group. Initially, Harry and Ron find her bossy and full of herself. However, when her life is in danger, they rush to her aid.
“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
Hopefully, there are no life-or-death situations occurring in your office. But there’s still something to be gained by helping out a coworker in trouble. You might make a new friend, or at the very lease earn a favor or two.
2) Avoid Taking Credit For Another’s accomplishments
In the second book, we meet the character Gilderoy Lockhart, a wizard who has achieved fame by taking credit for the accomplishments of others. However, Lockhart’s story serves as a warning, as he ends the book with his memory erased and no idea who he is or what he has done. No good ever comes of trying to take credit for work done by another. It very well may backfire on you.
3) Keep an Open Mind And Avoid Stereotype-Based Judgments
Prisoner of Azkaban introduces the reader for the first time to Remus Lupin. A kind, intelligent man who we come to learn was a schoolmate of Harry’s parents, Lupin begins to take on a bit of a paternal role. However, at the end of the book, it’s revealed he’s a werewolf. This results in him having to resign his teaching job, despite being a good and caring professor.
Remus Lupin’s story serves as a warning against prejudice and ignorance. Whether you’re in a position to make hiring choices, or merely interacting with your coworkers, it’s important not to let preconceptions influence your first impressions.
4) Don’t Be Afraid to Accept Help
During the Triwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire, Harry is expected to take on three deadly and dangerous tasks. He wouldn’t have made it through the Tournament at all without the help of Hermione, Hagrid, Doby and many others who assisted him along the way. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Don’t let pride stand in the way of you accepting the help you need to succeed.
5) Sometimes You Have To Take Charge
The 5th book in the series introduces us to Dolores Umbridge, a teacher willfully preventing the students from learning defensive magic. Frustrated with the lack of good instruction, Harry and his friends decide to take charge of their own learning.
Often in a work environment, projects can stutter and stall in the beginning because a group lacks leadership. Don’t be afraid to step into that role yourself. If you find you’re frustrated with a lack of direction or motivation in a project you’re working on, try taking a more active part in decision making.
6) Networking Can Play A Huge Factor In Success
One of the most real-world bits of advice to be pulled from the 6th Harry Potter book is the importance of knowing the right people when launching a career. Professor Slughorn, excels at selecting people bound for success, and giving the connections they need to get a head start. Finding a contact like Slughorn is invaluable as you progress through your chosen field. While it’s never easy to make new connections, networking events or company gatherings can be an excellent place to make contacts.
7) It’s Always A Good Idea To Be Prepared For The Worst
It sounds a bit pessimistic, but being prepared is always a good idea. Hermione demonstrates this in the final book of the series by pre-packing everything she can think they might need while on the run. Then, when they have to make a hasty get-away, everything they need is contained in her magical purse.
In real life terms, it’s a good idea to be as thoroughly prepared as possible for any outcome. This can be as simple as backing up your computer regularly to avoid loosing data, or as complicated as anticipating glitches in a new system. Being a step ahead can save your neck later on down the line.
What lessons has Harry Potter taught you?
*All Harry Potter characters and related images are © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.