I was a pretty late addition to the Harry Potter bandwagon, I must admit. When I was in grad school a friend convinced me to buy the first book, and I did. I sat down to read it and all I could think was, “Hmm, well that reminds me of that movie. That comes from that book. Oh, she stole that from this story.” I know, a very snobby way to look at things, but that’s what the ivory tower does to ya, right?
Thanks to TBS and their penchant for showing every single Harry Potter movie over and over again, I’ve gotten a bit more interested in the series. I watched the first part of the finale over the weekend and am planning on going to the theater to see the finale of the finale.
I’ve written about Harry Potter a bit (though of the epic film series of the oughts I tend to lean towards Lord of the Rings), but as I think about the series, there really are a lot of lessons one can take away about engagement. Here are some that I came up with.
1. Everyone has a gift, even the person you think is a total bum. Look at what Harry’s aunt and uncle ended up discovering about him!
2. Revenge tends to only make you look bad. Harry may at times have tried to get his icky cousin into trouble, but it always backfired.
3. People may be following your progress (or your example) even if you don’t know it. Harry had no idea that so many people were interested in how he was doing before he headed out to Hogwarts for the first time.
4. Fame may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Harry Potter arrived at Hogwarts with a reputation already in place. While it may have paid off in some ways, it also attracted the envy and negative attention of boys like Malfoy.
5. People are complicated and it’s difficult to see all of their soul in one fell swoop. At first, Hermione seemed like a very uptight show-off. It took a long time for Harry and others to see what a good heart she had.
6. It’s easy to be a rival. It’s difficult to be a compassionate rival.
7. Things are seldom as they appear. Hagrid seemed big and scary and his pets often seemed quite monstrous, but in fact Hagrid was one of the most trustworthy people at the school, and his pets were loving creatures.
8. Alliances are important. There are a lot of alliances throughout the Harry Potter story. People create alliances for strength or to change the way things are.
9. Alliances can be dangerous. When you are allies with a group of people, your fates are intertwined. You are sharing your vulnerable spots, and it’s easy for things to go awry. That is not to say you should avoid alliances, but you must choose carefully to avoid harm.
10. Sometimes danger comes from the corner where your closest friends are.
11. Two friends can be better than a host. In the end, Ron and Hermione were enough to sustain Harry through the hardest parts of his journey.
12. Identify your fears. If other people identify them first, your cause can be lost.
13. Sometimes you have to let people help you even if you feel like you can do everything yourself.
14. You never know a person’s full story or rationale for doing things. We can’t reside in peoples’ heads. Even Snape had problems with that.
15. People will sometimes pretend to be other people, especially in the online world. Have ways to be on the look-out for those situations.
16. Sometimes people who don’t (from your perspective) deserve to land on top do. Lamenting this only adds to the darkness. Working to correct the situation without doing harm is the best path.
17. Don’t ask others to do what you wouldn’t do yourself. The story would have been quite different if Harry had said, “Yeah…you guys go fight the dark lord. I’m just uh…I’m just gonna chill here I think.”
18. It’s easy to listen to the negative. It’s a decision to embrace the positive – online and offline.
19. Look for people who can balance you somehow. Harry’s darkness was balanced by Ron’s impish sense of humor. His passion was balanced by Hermione’s logic.
20. The people who are there for you in the dark times and who are there to celebrate with you when you succeed – those are the people you want and need in your corner.
These are 20 lessons I’ve pulled from Harry Potter when it comes to online engagement, but I would love to hear what you come up with. Whatcha got?
This is post #96 in the Engagement Series. If you’re worried about missing future posts, please feel free to hit the subscribe button!
image by Eszter Szöllõsi. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Eszter