What I like about J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter bestseller series are the life lessons contained within the magical adventures of our favorite trio--Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Of the first four books, "Goblet of Fire" in particular is rich in helping teens (and adults) navigate friendship, emotional pain, and love. This book--and the movie adaptation--teaches us some wonderful and meaningful lessons.
1. Things Are Not Always as They Seem
When Harry suddenly finds himself selected to compete in the dangerous Triwizard Championship, an Olympics of sorts, professors and students assume that Harry, an underage competitor, somehow cheated his way into the wizardry competition. This unexpected upheaval causes judgment to abound even among the protagonists, leaving Harry feeling angry and ostracized. At the end, the truth is revealed.
This event illustrates how we make assumptions about others and how we really don't have all of the information--we just think we do. If we base our conclusions solely on what is directly observable through our five senses, we misinterpret much. This human tendency to take things at face value and to evaluate with insufficient data can cause irreparable harm.
2. Play to Your Strengths
Prior to the first round of the championship, we see Harry feeling inadequate to fight his challenge: a disagreeable fire-spewing dragon. In a scene with "Mad Eye" Moody where Harry seems lost in his brooding, Moody asks him, "What's your greatest strength?" Harry doesn't have a clue. It isn't until Moody reminds Harry of his outstanding Quidditch skills that he can begin formulating a plan of attack.
We each have unique talents, but we often take them for granted or we don't realize how precious they are for our success. Instead of focusing on our strengths, the human tendency is to focus on our shortcomings. When we focus on our self doubts and fear, we become so disconnected from ourselves that we often need someone else to point out our strengths.
3. Give Without Expecting Anything in Return
Harry and Cedric Diggory both represented Hogwarts against two other prestigious foreign young wizards. Harry felt that having known about the dragons in advance, gave him an unfair advantage--even though
Cedric's wizardry was far more advanced. Had it not been for the mysterious way that the Goblet of Fire spewed out his name, Harry would not be competing against his own teammate. He decided to tell Cedric about the dragons. Then, prior to the second "task" of the competition, Cedric returned the favor by giving Harry a clue for extracting the hidden message from the magical golden egg.
Giving without any strings attached creates the energy to receive.
Sometimes we receive from the same person we gave to and sometimes we don't. Giving support and being cooperative instead of only being competitive can save us enormous amounts of time and leads to building win/win relationships. Be aware that "giving to get" will not yield the same positive results.
4. Be Willing to Ask for Help
One of Harry's flaws is his refusal to ask for help. We have seen evidence of this in the past with Dumbledore and it was even more obvious this time in "Goblet of Fire" when he doesn't tell Neville (gifted in herbology) that he needs to function under water. He reluctantly accepts the plant not realizing its power to make humans grow gills.
This tendency to struggle through our challenges without opening up to those who care about us, creates distance, misunderstandings, and doubles our trouble. We assume that we shouldn't worry others and that they wouldn't understand or can't help us anyway. By circumventing opportunities for others to lend a hand, we short-change ourselves and deprive our friends from contributing to our success.
5. We Are Responsible for Ourselves
It's worrisome when the four contestants are sent into the depths of Black Lake to retrieve their most precious "treasure." Harry mistakenly believes it's up to him to save not just Ron, but his other friends, left waiting for their assigned rescuers. Harry's well-intentioned, yet misguided, sense of responsibility turns tragic in the final challenge when unbeknownst to Harry, he takes Cedric to his demise. At first glance, it appears that Harry's selfless acts are noble until we realize that his meddling contributed to a heartbreaking outcome.
Under the surface, we see that when the lines of responsibility are blurred, our choices can have disastrous results. Only after the tournament did Harry realize that all his friends would've been safe and he would not have endangered Cedric-had he minded his own business. Each of us has our own path. Often the most loving thing to do is to give others the freedom to choose. We are each responsible for ourselves. By shifting our focus to what others are doing or not doing, we create more misery and inhibit our growth.
© 2005 Barbara McRae, MCC.
Barbara McRae, Master Certified Coach, Parent/Teen Expert, and Founder of www.teenfrontier.com, "A Neon Whispers T Company", is the bestselling author of Coach Your Teen to Success. Barbara coaches internationally, facilitates workshops, and has been featured in various media outlets, including radio, TV, national magazines, and newspapers.
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