When looking for study advice from a Harry Potter character, most people would turn to Hermione Granger – but I want to show you that some of the best advice and study lessons come from an unlikely source – Neville Longbottom.
Throughout the Harry Potter books Neville was painted as a low-grade, unsuccessful student. He’s forgetful, nervous and never meets the expectations his family, especially his Grandmother, put on him. The only subject he is good at seems to be Herbology.
His studying success changes during his fifth year as he’s learning Defence Against the Dark Arts from Harry at the D.A. (Dumbledore’s Army) meetings. Once news broke of the escape of ten death eaters from Azkaban (including those who tortured Neville’s parents), all the D.A. members put in more effort, “but in nobody was this improvement more pronounced than in Neville”.
Neville started working super hard in class. He “worked relentlessly on every new jinx and counter-curse”. In fact, out of the whole class, Neville was the second fastest to master the Shield Charm.
What did Neville achieve with this new work ethic?
- He passed his Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L with flying colours
- He took over leadership of the D.A in The Deathly Hallows when Harry, Ron and Hermione left Hogwarts
- He played a massive part in defeating Lord Voldemort by killing the final Horcrux, Nagini
- And, rumour has it, he became an Auror for a few years – despite it being an incredibly difficult profession to get into with a lot of further study.
The path Neville was on near the end of his education was vastly different to the one he started on. If you’d asked any of Neville’s friends or teachers how successful he’d be in life they probably would have laughed and said “not very”.
So what changed?
Neville made three changes to his studying habits which led to his success. Let me share them with you now so you can implement these study lessons in your own education.
3 successful study lessons from Neville Longbottom
Study lesson #1: Motivation
Motivation is one of the most important lessons. It's key to consistent, successful studying. Understanding your WHY for learning and keeping what you want to achieve at the front of your mind are great motivators through the tough times. Without motivation, our will to work hard crumbles and we often descend into excuse-ville, negative-city and procrastination-valley.
When I studied Business I had three key motivations: prove to myself I could do this; create more opportunities at work; learn about business so I could eventually start my own.
Before the escape of ten death eaters from Azkaban, Neville didn’t have much motivation for studying Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Umbridge was awful and his previous lack of success hardly spurred him on to fight for higher grades. But once he knew his parent’s torturers were free, Neville was “spurred on to work harder than ever”. He became pretty flipping motivated to avenge his parents and join the fight against Voldemort.
Once Neville was motivated and had a clear goal in mind, he was off.
Think about what motivates you to study and learn. Keep your attention on these reasons so you can push through your challenges to achieve studying success.
Study lesson #2: Hard work
We’re led to believe talent is everything in life. But that’s not true.
Hard work is in fact more important than talent.
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work” – Stephen King
Neville “barely spoke during the DA meetings any more” and he worked “harder than anyone else in the room.” Neville could have accepted that he wasn’t very good at Defence and just continued to plod along during the D.A. meetings. But he chose to break free of the limits he and others placed on him. He did this by working his Gryffindor-butt off in class like his life depended on it.
As Stephen King says in the above quote, everyone is talented in something, talent is cheap. But not everyone is successful in life. Therefore, it’s those who put in a lot of hard work that achieve the most.
Ask yourself, do you ever feel held back by your lack of natural talent? If so, direct your energy into working harder so you can smash through the ceiling of your abilities.
Study lesson #3: Perseverance
All students experience setbacks. Low grades, misunderstood essay question, tricky concepts not going into your brain, tech causing you to lose half your presentation…
It’s normal when we hit challenges to question ourselves for a minute, to wonder if we’re good enough for this, or whether we should just give up.
What sets an unsuccessful and a successful student apart is perseverance. Successful students, like Neville Longbottom, don’t give up. He pushed through in every D.A. meeting “apparently indifferent to injuries or accidents”.
The thing about perseverance is, it gets easier.
Once you’ve pushed through one challenge and come out the other side, you have proof you can do it. Once the next setback hits you can hold the evidence of your past success in your mind, strengthening your resolve to persevere again.