Disclaimer: This post was based on the movie, but read the books. Seriously. Also note that spoilers follow, so if you haven’t yet read or watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and you plan to, you might want to skip over this.

Lesson #4: Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Ah, ye old cliché.

If you’ve seen Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (and really, I hope you have; otherwise, you shouldn’t be reading these posts!), think back to the scene when Harry Potter and Ron Weasley show up in Professor Slughorn’s class for the first time. In the movie, neither kid has his Potions book yet, so Slughorn tells each one to grab a school copy.

Now, think about how they both reacted when they saw the school copies. Remember how eager each one was to get the “good” copy of the Potions book? Neither wanted the ratty old copy…

…yet, it turned out to be full of useful information.

Sure, Harry nearly killed Draco Malfoy using one of the Half-Blood Prince’s spells, but he also excelled at Potions, much to the chagrin of Hermione Granger, and won the bottle of Felix Felicis – the luck potion that ultimately led to Harry’s retrieval of the one memory Dumbledore needed to find out for sure Lord Voldemort had created Horcruxes.

In the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” the book is literal in this situation, but chances are you’re going to use it much more often in terms of dealing with people and, perhaps, even situations.

Think back to a time when you judged someone you’d never met before based on that person’s appearance, or accent, or job, or where he lived, or things you’d heard about that person’s past. If you later got to know that person, did you find your initial judgment was wrong? Did you discover that you only had part of the story, or that the person’s clothes had no bearing on his personality, or that they way he pronounced a word was in no way a reflection of his intelligence?

In most cases, probably so.

And, even if it turned out you weren’t wrong, aren’t you glad you found out for yourself? Wasn’t it better to give that person a chance to show you who he was, rather than let someone else or some other factor control what you thought?

The next time you encounter someone new, strive not to make snap judgments about that person based on any material factor or stereotypes or preliminary “knowledge” you have about the person. I know, that’s easier said than done, but try. At the very least, don’t let any snap judgments decide whether or not you’re going to be friends with the person, or work with him, or help him through some life dilemma.

Once you get past letting those judgments control you, you might be surprised at the value of the people who start entering your life.

After all, they may just help you find the key to saving the Wizarding World.

Or, something close to it.

Tomorrow, let’s talk about face value. In the meantime, catch up on what Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has taught us about laughter, relationships, and pursuing our dreams.

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