Albus Dumbledore, heralded headmaster of Hogwarts, said this to Harry as he was struggling to come to grips with who he was; an existential crisis that crops up in our lives at the most inopportune times and thus something that movie makers leverage to develop characters we can identify with. The Harry Potter series has come and gone, so now it looks like we’ll have another series of emo character twists as Kylo Ren tries to figure out if he’s more in touch with Dad or Grandpa and the Avengers choose sides behind Captain America and Iron Man.
Anyway, what is Professor Dumbledore telling us? For years we’ve told our kids that they have to “make good choices,” but we put them in environments where they are segregated by ability. The ones who run fast and jump high play sports. The ones who read and write well are put in accelerated classes. The ones who struggle to keep up or face developmental challenges are put in programs to help them cope, learn, and assimilate.
In other words, regardless of what we say, we program students from an early age that ability is what pushes us to the fore or leads to our struggles. However, if you take it in context, Dumbledore is tweaking this conventional wisdom by saying Harry has abilities, but it’s his choices that will result in “good” or “bad” outcomes. It’s good that Harry is determined, resourceful, brave, etc…but it’s BETTER that he thinks and makes good decisions about what to do with those talents.
So what does that mean to a student? Simple, it’s good to be the type of student who reads chapters, gets involved, does activities, and does well on tests. It’s BETTER to do those things to some positive end. To accomplish a goal that you want to achieve such as a job or internship with an attractive company, or a career that fulfills you because it leverages your passions.
Students taking one of our career development classes this semester will be presented a world of choices. Clubs to join, programs to participate in, speakers to see, workshops to attend. In class they will get a menu of over 60 different activities to complete as a way of earning points. Initially one would argue that this structure favors the able. Able to attend a meeting, able to attend a workshop, able to spend time on extra-curricular activities.
I would argue that it favors those who make wise choices. You can attend a series of speakers to just get your 60 points the same way you can submit Mind Sumo challenges or go to a student club meeting. And those are great if you are CHOOSING to do them to some end. If you CAN’T attend College events or go to workshops, keep looking at activities and find something that will help you. You can join professional organizations, go to conferences, work on projects that expand your skills, network with professionals in your field, interview executives at your company, or share your experience with others.
Professor Dumbledore was arguing about the basics of good and evil. That powerful wizards further define themselves as great based on how they choose to exercise their power. Not that they simply have power. Muggles have that ability as well. Finding your passion and turning that into a future career isn’t just something reserved for the smartest, prettiest, or most active student. It depends on what you choose to DO!