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Harry Potter & The Workplace

By Sav Gibbs

sav@pyperinc.com

Part 2 of 2

The reason for my long-term obsession with J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world is simple - besides being a fantastic children’s series full of imaginative detail just waiting for you to dream about, it’s also full of life lessons. Here, I will share four simple lessons from Harry Potter that I’ve applied to my everyday work life.

1. Don’t take credit for other’s accomplishments.

Professor Gilderoy Lockhart achieved fame by taking credit for the accomplishments of others. By the end of the series, his memory is erased, and he’s left with no idea of who he is. Let his faults serve as a warning, as even white lies can catch up with you. When discussing collaborative projects, give credit to your partners where it’s due. Highlight the skills or ideas you contributed and recognize where others brought great ideas to the table. This will show you are a team player and that you can merge ideas and styles into a cohesive piece through collaboration.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Harry competes in the Triwizard tournament as a fourteen-year-old, while it is normally reserved for only seventeen-year-olds, where he stuns the school with his capabilities. Harry would never have been able to complete these tasks without the help of Hagrid, Dobby, Hermione, and many others. This reminds me that, sometimes, you won’t be able to complete all of your work by yourself. If the thought of asking for help paralyzes you, think of it as collaboration instead of not being self-sufficient. Collaborating is basically the saying “two heads are better than one,” coming to life. Two people working together to think through the tough questions and come out with a better product in the end is something to celebrate.

3. Sometimes you just have to take charge.

Dolores Umbridge prevents Hogwarts students from learning defensive magic. Once Harry and his friends recognize she’s putting them in danger by not teaching how to defend themselves, they take charge and teach other students what they know despite constant threats from Umbridge. While you may not have a threatening old witch wrecking your timeline on a project, you will encounter situations where you’ll need to start your own Dumbledore’s Army. Is an internal project continuously being pushed back? Start a committee to delegate tasks and lead it to completion. If you see ways to improve your company’s workflow, share some solutions the next time your team gets together.

4. Always be prepared for the worst.

Hermione repeatedly shows that being over prepared can often save you in a sticky situation. When Death Eaters attack, the golden trio escapes quickly with everything they need thanks to her enchanted purse full of supplies. While you can’t carry a magical tent with you at all times, you can take extra precautions to protect yourself from bad situations. Backing up your work on a cloud or hard drive, for instance, is a simple solution that can save you a lot of heartbreak if your computer ever breaks. Just taking a moment to think of possible negative scenarios in your workflow can prevent them from ever happening. Don’t see it as being a pessimist, but rather playing devil’s advocate if no one else is. Harry Potter can be so much more than an imaginative children’s book; it can teach us all valuable life lessons that could be helpful in the workplace. Take a visit to Hogwarts through J.K. Rowling’s books if you haven’t yet, or if it’s been a while.