Life Lessons From Game of Thrones, S1
Game of Thrones on HBO is currently one of the hottest shows on TV and one of my favorites. It's complex and wildly entertaining. I love watching it with my wife and talking about each episode.
While re-watching season one together, we noticed that there was a lot of wisdom and leadership principles to be learned if we'd just pay attention and I thought this would be a fun way to look at life and leadership. Here are some of the leadership lessons from Game of Thrones, season one.
1: The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword – Ned Stark
If you make a decision, you must not only stand by it but you must also deal with what comes next. As I mentioned here, dictators dictate and leaders communicate. You can't tell your team one thing and then do something else. Nor can you set up rules and guidelines if you're not able to enforce them or willing to live within them yourself. The burden of leadership can be great, but that doesn't mean we can dodge the responsibility of the position. Ned Stark, the head leader and “Lord of Winterfell”, opens up Game of Thrones with a bang in the first episode!
2: Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not – Tyrion Lannister
We must be true to ourselves. Whether you're tall, short, bald, born poor or had every opportunity in the world before you, you cannot forget who you are. With every challenge comes opportunity and sometimes that challenge is something about ourselves. In fact, one of my favorite authors, Vince Flynn, was diagnosed with dyslexia in grade school and teased horribly for it. Flynn has now published 14 novels, and most, if not all, have been #1 on the NY Times bestseller list. Your challenge could very well be your opportunity.
3: The next time we see each other, we'll talk about your mother… I promise – Ned Stark
There is no time like the present. Whether to praise someone or rebuke them, now is the time. If you've been reading my website for a while, you know that in July 2012 my dad had a stroke. I really miss being able to have a conversation with him. Take the time to be with your friends and family, you'll never know when you'll see them again. Invest in them today as if there were no guarantee of tomorrow Likewise, don't let too much time pass before correcting bad behaviors and attitudes. As I shared in How to Identify Your Eighty Percent, a bad attitude can ruin a team; either remove the cause of the bad attitude or remove the person with it.
4: A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone. That's why I read so much – Tyrion Lannister
Driving to work today or walking through the store, it is very unlikely that we'll come across someone with a sword. In 2013 Americans typically fight their battles with their minds. While a select few vie for league championships and team trophies, most of us use our brains to accomplish our goals. As leaders, you and I have to always be learning. We have to be reading, mentoring, and sharpening our minds. Leaders can't have people following them if they're not out front. Leaders lead the way, and leaders are readers.
5: You're better than no one. Here, a man gets what he earns, when he earns it – Benjen Stark
Most workplaces today like to say that they're a “meritocracy.” This means they focus more on your merit, what you've done and how well you've done it, than on your tenure, which is how long you've been employed there. You have worth and value. Even if you're young or new to the team, you've earned the right to be there. No one is better than you and you are better than no one. You may have more knowledge in one area than me and I may have more experience in another area than you; but neither of us is better than the other.
6: Some doors close forever. Others open in most unexpected places – Lord Varys
We never quite know what kind of opportunity can be created by the closing of a door. Looking back at my life, I am certain I wouldn't be where I am today if things had gone according to my plans at the time. Jobs lost, promotions missed and opportunities not taken, have all lead me here. I know what I know, I do what I do, and believe what I believe, all because of my past. While we can't always see whats coming toward us, we can still prepare for whatever comes next and be ready with a positive attitude. Just as we're told to not “cry over spilled milk” as children, we can't dwell on what doesn't go our way as adults.
7: It's not a gift; no one gave it to me. I'm good because I've worked at it every day of my life – Loras Tyrell
Though Loras is talking about his skills with a sword, this is applicable to our lives as well. Just as I mentioned here, it is our daily activity that leads to our eventual success. While we may be blessed with physical and mental ability, it is our work ethic that makes the most difference.
I often tell my friends and the people I coach, “Day by day. Every day.” If we are going to get to where we want to be in life we much look our activities day by day, every day. Natural talent is not enough, it must be developed in order to have its greatest impact.
So what did you think? When you watched the first season of Game of Thrones did you realize that there was this much to learn about life and leadership? I thought this would be a fun way to take a look a one of my favorite shows in a new way. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! I'd love to chat with you.