Saturday, September 30, 2023

Leadership Lessons from J.K. Rowling, Author of the Harry Potter Series

Life is a rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs. We often forget about the downs in life while rejoicing at the ups or successes. As a result, when the downs hit us, most of us struggle to cope. Only a few choose to fight against adversities. The rest choose to give up their aspirations, goals and dreams. It is far easier to give up and let things go too quickly. But only those who choose to stay the course and fight for their dreams and goals will succeed.  J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, is a great example.  

Many may not be familiar with the person J.K. Rowling. Most may recognize her as the author of the Harry Potter book series, one of the biggest literary successes of our time. But beyond her identity as an author, J.K. Rowling as an individual is an icon for perseverance and self-esteem. Her life is a textbook example of the popular adage, “Things always get difficult before they get better.” If she didn’t hold on to her dreams and goals during the difficult times, she wouldn’t have become the second highest-paid author of our times. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the way she handled her difficult times and her attitude during difficult times made her successful.

Life of Rowling before the publishing of the Harry Potter series

The success of J.K. Rowling will only make sense when one learns about her struggles. Rowling had a pretty normal childhood. As someone interested in literature, she invested much time in reading. In an interview, she said, “I lived for books. I was your basic common-or-garden bookworm, complete with freckles and National Health spectacles.” She started her journey as an author at the age of six. At the age of eleven, she drafted her first novel. She knew she wanted to be a writer. But, just like all of us, she drifted apart from that dream to handle the responsibilities of life. After completing her graduation, she worked in several jobs. All through, she continued to pursue her dream. The concept of the Harry Potter book series formed in 1990 when Rowling was travelling from Manchester to London King’s Cross. It was also when tragedy began to pour down on her life

A young woman reading Harry Potter series

Soon after she started working on the first book of the Harry Potter book series, her mother passed away, and she fell into a deep depression. To deal with her depression, she took up a teaching job in Portugal. Even during these difficult times, she continued to work on the books. The next few years of her life were eventful. She got married, got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Then, tragedy visited her again. Her marriage fell apart, and she lost her job. This was when she hit rock bottom in her life.

Struggles Rowling faced to publish her books

As an unemployed, single mother fighting depression, J.K. Rowling struggled to make ends meet. During this period, Rowling worked on the first Harry Potter manuscript, which later became a whole book series, at random cafes while tending to her sleeping daughter. Adding to the situation, 12 famous publishers refused to publish her work. Bloomsbury was the 13th publishing house she approached with her manuscript. This is the point when her life’s rollercoaster ride finally began to rise from rock bottom.

Today, J. K. Rowling is the second highest-paid author. She is wealthier than the late Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II. Her journey from being an unemployed and depressed single mother to one of the most celebrated authors in English literature can teach each of us valuable lessons that anyone who wants to succeed in life should follow.

Leadership lessons one can learn from J.K. Rowling


Since the age of six, when she wrote her first story, Rowling consistently practised, tended and nurtured her hobby. She continued her passion even when she had to pick up jobs like a researcher for Amnesty International, which is a different career path. The depression resulting from her mother’s death, divorce, unemployment, and utter poverty didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion. She continued to write, hone her skills, and perfect her manuscript.


A self-confident young QNET IR woman

Imagine being rejected by 12 famous publishing houses. Any normal individual without such a yearning, passion, and desire to achieve their dream would have given up ages ago. But, J.K. Rowling is an individual with high self-esteem. She has confidence in herself and her creation. Even after being rejected by 12 experts in her field, she refused to doubt herself. This level of self-confidence is essential to attain success. If you don’t trust yourself and what you are trying to achieve, you may often lose sight of your goal.


The single most important factor to which one can attribute J.K. Rowling’s success is her perseverance. Despite the numerous tragedies she had in life, the multiple obstacles that she had to overcome, and the hurtful rejections she faced, J.K. Rowling refused to give up. Even though it was one of the darkest times in her life, she showcased absolute perseverance. Being a single mother, unemployed, and suffering from depression, J.K. Rowling had every reason to give up on her masterpiece, the Harry Potter book series. But she refused to give up and persevered through it. Giving up and settling for a 9 to 6 job could have been a safe choice. If she had chosen that path, we would neither have the magic of the Harry Potter book series nor an incredible author like J.K. Rowling.

J.K. Rowling: An inspiration

A successful young woman giving a speech on stage

Every individual who wants to achieve their dreams and climb the ladder of success will benefit from the life experiences of J.K. Rowling. As J.K. Rowling herself stated in her 2008 speech at Harvard, “rock bottom become the solid foundation on which (she) rebuilt (her) life.”

So, as a direct seller or as an ambitious individual who strives for success, the next time you feel defeated and discouraged by the numerous rejections, hold on to these words of Rowling. “I was the biggest failure I knew and as poor as one can be in England without being homeless.” Today, she is one of the most influential female figures in our world. So, every rock bottom is a foundation. Every downhill of your rollercoaster ride is a boost for the next uphill, only if you show the confidence to believe in yourself. It’s never too late, never broken and never a lost cause unless you give up on it.

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