There are a handful of things that I would say I am full-fledged, die-hard fan of. One of the ones at the top of the list is easily Harry Potter.
From book one to book seven, the story still blows my mind when I reread the books. The descriptive detail, the character development, the intricacy of the story from one book to another is amazing. As someone who has always dreamed of writing a book, I can’t help but be impressed by the world J.K. Rowling created for her characters.
Another key part of the stories for me is the growth that you get to witness those characters experience. Throughout the story, different challenges and milestones arise for Harry, Ron and Hermione to work their way through, learning vital lessons and gaining invaluable experience along the way.
Take for example a particular chapter in The Half Blood Prince – entitled “Felix Felicis.” Spoiler alert: if (and I can’t imagine how this would be true) you have neither read the book, nor seen the movie, I am going to give away a minor part of the story. Nothing major, I’m not going to ruin the book for you. I just wouldn’t have felt right about not warning you.
I’m sure some of you can already see where this is going, but this chapter really impresses me – it says a lot about how we all think, act and ultimately succeed and fail in our lives.
Towards the beginning of the book, the newest teacher at the school introduces Harry and Ron’s class to a potion they’ve never seen before, called Felix Felicis, commonly known as “Liquid Luck.”
After explaining what this potion does (exactly what it sounds like) Professor Slughorn announces a contest during that day’s lesson – with a vial of Liquid Luck going to the winner who (spoiler) of course, turns out to be Harry.
For a while, the vial of potion isn’t mentioned much, and Harry does a remarkable job of not wasting it until he needs it. That need presents itself in the form of Harry’s best friend Ron.
The previous year, Ron had joined Harry on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team (sorry to all the non-fans out there, but there’s really no avoiding a certain amount of words that don’t exist or make sense outside of the story. Long story short, Ron was the goalie in a wizarding sport called Quidditch. I won’t go into the details of the game, save to say that it is awesome.). The problem was, Ron was a lousy Quidditch player. He could hardly ever save a goal, and was therefore scared stiff.
The source of Ron’s poor Quidditch playing wasn’t a lack of skill however, it was nerves. Harry had noticed this in the past and was determined to help Ron get over his problem.
Harry came up with an ingenious solution to Ron’s problem. With a big match coming up, Harry got Ron to drink some juice that had been spiked with Felix Felicis – (spoiler alert!) or so it seemed. There was, in fact, nothing in the juice at all.
The match went amazingly well and Ron, of course, was the hero of the day.
Now, on the surface, this seems like an incredibly simple and almost superficial way of making the point that our own beliefs are what govern our success. Our negativity can hold us back while faith in ourselves propels us forward, but there’s a lot more going on here than a simple placebo effect.
The thing is, Harry did a lot more than trick Ron into thinking he had good luck for the day.
When Harry let Ron think he had been slipped some Liquid Luck, he was actually giving Ron permission to believe in himself. That is what made all the difference.
Anyone who’s been struggling to succeed has come across the same basic mindset and personal development principals; things like the law of attraction, positive energy, holding an unwavering belief in your own success.
At the end of the day, it’s fairly easy to decide to believe something, even to convince yourself or the people around you that you believe it. Actually giving yourself over to, and genuinely benefiting from that belief, however – that’s something else.
A lot of the time we need permission to actually believe these things. Now, when I say “permission” to believe these things, I don’t mean we need someone to tell us it’s okay, I mean we need someone, or more often something to validate things for us. Until we feel like we have proof that the thing we want to believe is actually possible, it’s hard for us to give ourselves over to it fully.
A lot of the time we simply can’t believe in our own success until we’ve received that validation – it’s just another example of how we get in our own way.
Of course, once we receive that permission, once we see the validity in the belief, it becomes possible for us to truly own it, like Ron did.
Ron was lucky to have someone in his life who was able to give him the validation he needed, but in most situations, a little slight of hand and a simple placebo isn’t going to do the trick.
There is, at the end of the day, only one person that can give any of us the validation we need to maintain the beliefs that will carry us to success.
That person is you.
While Harry and Ron’s example illustrate our need for permission to believe in ourselves, they don’t unearth any magical (yes, I chose that word intentionally ;)) solution.
So where does that leave us? Back at square one?
I honestly believe that needing permission to believe in themselves in one of the biggest things holding most people back. What else could explain the difficulties faced by so many people who know what to believe, who practice positive affirmations and create vision boards and so on?
There are people who know what to believe, who know what to do. They’re just subconsciously waiting for someone or something to give them permission to act upon that knowledge.
Waiting for that permission is, in my mind, the final obstacle. The last step you take as you get out of your own way and swing for the fences.
Recognizing an obstacle is always the first, and most important part of overcoming it.
Accepting the fact that you may be wasting time waiting for permission and validation is the best way to give yourself both of those things.
Take a good look at your life, your goals and your future. Recognize that the biggest thing holding you back might be that you’re waiting for someone else to give you permission to believe in yourself, waiting for someone else to show you that you really can succeed.
It’s time you gave yourself that permission. It’s time you showed yourself, and the rest of the world, exactly how much you are truly capable of.