4 ways JK Rowling’s advice can inspire you at work

J.K. Rowling, the author behind the Harry Potter books, is well-known for her inspirational speeches. The one she gave at Harvard University’s 2008 commencement is still being talked about today, because it’s relatable as it is inspiring.

Like many of us, Rowling did not have a clear path to success. She was a single mother living on welfare when she started writing the Harry Potter books, the first of which was rejected 12 times by publishers. So when she comments on career struggles, whether it’s in front of thousands of students, or millions of Twitter followers, people listen, and her words resonate. 

Recently, Rowling gave a small motivational speech on Twitter that was as useful as any commencement speech. Rowling replied to Melanie Dione, a writer who shared an important bit of encouragement. 

Rowling expanded on Dione’s idea. She admitted it was the advice she desperately needed to hear back when she was a struggling writer.

Here’s the full set of tweets, which are classic Rowling.

How to keep going and create beautiful things

For a writer like myself who’s always working on a number of projects at once, and constantly worried they will never be seen by anyone except my cats, this pep talk was much needed. Finishing things you’ve started is often a challenge, especially when you’re feeling discouraged.

1. Maintain your passion

As someone who’s simultaneously abandoned projects and seen them through, I stand by Rowling’s “sermon” 100%, just by seeing it at work in my own life. And it absolutely applies to every field, not just creative ones.

Every project is worth completing as long as there’s passion and drive behind it. The passion you feel to complete something is unique; no one else can imitate whatever it is in your life that pushes you do something different.

One of the deadliest characteristics in any jobhunt or career is sameness. A passion project is something that can put you at the top of the pile if you’re vying for a new position.

2. Your entrepreneurial spirit is your best hope

Being self-motivated is often an attribute you’ll find on job descriptions of desirable candidates. Today, so many businesses are driven by that entrepreneurial spirit; no one wants to hire the “organization man” who clocks in, does an adequate job and clocks out. So if you can demonstrate you have a sense of entrepreneurship and know how to build anything from the ground up, it’s an advantage.  

Even if it’s not totally related to your field of choice, your commitment to completing it is an impressive attribute for any hiring manager to hear.

3. Creativity is the future

Technical skills are always key, but if your project is creative in nature, that may be even better, according to billionaire investor Mark Cuban. Recently he told Business Insider that he thinks liberal arts backgrounds are going to be highly valued in the next 10 years because of the mental flexibility they teach. 

Even now, tech and engineering companies are looking for candidates who can think out of the box rather than in line with what programming majors teach you. A good example of a great balance is Atul Gawande, an impressive physician who also thinks and writes beautifully about everything from checklists to our national healthcare crisis

4. Doing things becomes a good kind of addiction

It may sound simple, but turning yourself from someone who tried to someone who did will make a difference in your life in the long run. The way to show that you can do something is simply to try doing it. Seeking challenges is the difference between a champion player and a mediocre one, basketball coach Geno Auriemma has said.