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3 Self-Leadership Lessons I learned from J. K. Rowling

As a leader, I consider self-development and constant learning one of my greatest responsibilities. Mainly because I believe it takes a great deal of humility to lead others well. Lately, I have been taking a great deal of personal stock on who I am as a leader and looking to those I consider successes as mentors and role models, hence my list of top 5 alpha women.

These women don’t always share my religious beliefs, but I think that success leaves clues no matter who you are or where you come from, which is why it is so important to remember that we can learn from anyone.

One of the things I always find fascinating about today’s most successful stars and artists is how each of them hit a point in their life where they had to decide to keep pressing beyond what looked like impossible circumstances.

One of today’s greatest examples is J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series. As a single mother living in poverty, J.K. Rowling overcame a great deal of internal and external barriers before achieving massive success.

One could imagine that after studying to be an interpreter and experiencing failure in her career due to a mismatch in gifts, talents, abilities, and losing her marriage to become a single parent probably also didn’t help.

These perceived personal failures and life detours, coupled with the external obstacles of receiving no after no from 12 publishers could have easily caused her to turn away in defeat. But instead, she chose to respond with courage.

In Rowling’s story, we see 3 key examples of self-leadership:


It took discipline to not only map out the Harry Potter series but to consistently write her books at night while experiencing a great deal of hardship. Rowling exhibited discipline in how she used her time and energy. How could you be using your time more effectively?

Hard Work

Despite how many no’s she received along the way, Rowling persisted. She and her agent continued to pitch the book until Bloomsbury Publishing company decided to back and support her unique writing style and storyline. Her hard work and persistence led to her making millions of dollars! Are you pressing past the opposition in pursuit of your goals? What are the things getting in your way that you would like to change?


J.K. Rowling did not allow her circumstances, the views of others to deter her from achieving her dreams. She knew what she wanted, believed in her work product, and went for exactly what she knew the Harry Potter series deserved. With so many distractions in today’s world, we must become masters of ourselves by making conscious decisions about where we give our attention. Consider some things you could remove from your plate that is stealing your focus.

Looking at J.K. Rowling’s story, I feel encouraged about my situation. When my son was in the NICU for 11 months, everyone expected me to quit my job and leave my aspirations behind. Most mothers with children facing similar challenges as Emmanuel often abandon their dreams in favor of supporting their child.

Instead, I chose to double down on my goals, reprioritize my relationships, go back to pursue my doctorate, further my career, and pursue my dream of building an online community. Everyone thought I was crazy or overcompensating, but reading JK Rowling’s story tells me the choices I am making today will ultimately be for my good and the betterment of my family.

I am realizing the need to become more explicit about what time I give to others and what time is set aside for my personal, professional, and aspirational goals. Furthermore, having a son with complex needs sometimes leaves me feeling guilty about what little time I have to give my son and husband at the end of the day.

I must say, Rowling’s story gives me confidence that when all is said and done, the short term sacrifices I am making will be better for my family and son in the long haul. I may not believe in magic, but I do believe in sewing and harvest season.

What are some ways that you are sacrificing today for a better tomorrow? Share with the #BreezyTribe on Facebook!

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