Values, Choices and Harry Potter – by Jackie Le Fevre

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”

One of my favourite lines from any Harry Potter book. This one appears in Chapter 18 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when a troubled Harry is remembering with his headmaster – Professor Dumbledore – an event from the start of his days at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

At the start of a fresh academic year each new pupil is assigned to one of four houses: Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Griffindor or Slytherin. As you might expect there is magic in the process, a magic Sorting Hat, to be precise. Placed upon the head of each girl and boy in turn it is the Hat that pronounces to a packed Great Hall of students and teachers the house to which the newbie belongs.


“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that – no? Well, if you are sure – better be GRIFFINDOR!”

As the stories unfold we find that Harry indeed possesses qualities prized by Salazar Slytherin, the founder of the avoided house. Dumbledore lists them as “resourcefulness…determination…a certain disregard for rules” but to calm Harry’s angst he says

“Yet the Sorting Hat placed you in Griffindor. You know why that was. Think.”

“It only put me in Griffindor” said Harry in a defeated voice, “because I asked not to go in Slytherin…”

“Exactly” said Dumbledore, beaming once more.

It was the choice Harry made in that moment to turn away from “greatness” at any price towards the house of the “brave at heart” that set the tone for everything that followed.

We all make choices every day.

While our choices are matters of fact rather than fiction it is still the case that the choices we make determine the paths we take. When we make a choice, we evaluate options and possible outcomes and lean towards the one that feels most ‘like’ the person we believe ourselves to be. The internal framework we are using – often unconsciously – is our priority values. We each have a unique personal values profile which makes us different: but we are the same in that we all have values and it is those values which influence and inform our relationships, our interests, our passions and our dreams.

World Values Day is a great opportunity to champion values that matter to you as part of a global movement. Please join with us and share with others the values that make your heart sing…. I’ll be taking part simply because, like Hermione Granger:

“I am hoping to do some good in the world”.


About The Author

Jackie Le Fevre’s company, Magma Effect, has as its purpose to ‘create insight for meaning and motivation’. She works with clients on values based organisational development and licences others to use the AVI online questionnaire



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