Paths to Success: 5 Career Lessons to learn from J.K. Rowling

Within five years, author J.K. Rowling went from living on welfare to becoming a multimillionaire. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of her beloved fantasy novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (released in the United States as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), we are looking back at Rowling’s extraordinary story of struggle and persistence. Here are five career lesson that you can learn from one of the world’s most beloved writers.

Turn your hobby into a profession.

When Rowling was six years old, she started writing a story about a rabbit and dreamed about becoming a published author. Today, she is at the head of a $25 billion fantasy franchise. The most successful people love what they do, so pursue a career that you are truly passionate about.

Be open to temping.

After graduation, Rowling worked in a series of temporary jobs, including becoming a secretary. Do not discount the possibility of becoming a temp—it may be just what you need to give your career a much-needed boost.

Continue pursuing your dreams, even when you’re employed.

Rowling trained to be a teacher in Edinburgh and later taught in city schools, but she spent all the time she could writing Philosopher’s Stone on the side. Even if you are currently employed, avoid settling for a job you are not passionate about and continue pursuing your desired profession.

Overcome your fear of failure.

While writing Philosopher’s Stone, Rowling struggled with the fear that her story would not be good enough to get published. Years later in her Harvard commencement speech, she would claim that allowing the fear of failure to keep you from striving for your goals is to “fail by default.” The worst kind of career prospect to miss is the one that you never pursued because of fear of failure. Instead, jump on opportunities and consider missteps as part of the learning experience.

Persevere in your career goals.

When Rowling submitted Philosopher’s Stone to publishers, she received many rejections before finally selling the book. Everyone receives a rejection at some point or another in their careers, and continuing to pursue opportunities is imperative for success.

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