6 career lessons from Game of Thrones
The seventh season of Game of Thrones kicked off last night, and as always, the stakes (and the amount of causalities) are high. As Cersei Lannister once said, when you play the game of thrones you either win, or you die…
While the job hunt is not quite as do or die, when you’re stuck in a job you hate, it can definitely feel as if “winter has come” (and you’re running from the White Walkers).
Here are six career lessons from Game of Thrones.
Know your strengths and play to them
Tyrion Lannister is many things, but a warrior is not one of them. He likes a good drink (or two), and spending his time in brothel (or two). He’s also a wanted man for allegedly poisoning his nephew Joffrey (and shooting his father in the chest with a crossbow). If he has survived this long, it’s down to the fact he knows exactly what his limitations are. In fact, he’s turned those same limitations into strengths.
Well-read and witty, he always finds a way to get out of trouble, mostly because he has mastered the elevator pitch; he knows how to sell himself to people in stressful situations — usually while facing death.
The lesson from Tyrion is to take a close look at your own strengths and weaknesses. Do you have areas of improvement? And more importantly, how can you best communicate your strengths? The better you get at this, the easier it will be to advance your career.
Knowledge is power
This adage is truest for Varys, who uses his “little birds” to keep himself one step ahead of everyone. Cersei understands the importance of these “little birds,” and soon takes them over.
Varys mostly uses his information to cajole and blackmail people, which is probably not something you want to start doing. His use of information, however, is an important lesson. Are you up to date on what’s going on in your industry? Do you know how to use the latest software or equipment? How about the latest office politics? The more knowledge you have, the better off you’ll be. Keep your ear to the ground and use that information wisely.
Form strong alliances
The enemy of my enemy is my friend, especially in Game of Thrones. From the Red Wedding to the Knights of the Vale saving Jon Snow at the Battle of Winterfell, the show’s story is built on the ability of its characters to form and maintain alliances.
In season seven, the White Walkers have begun their march of death and destruction, and Jon Snow knows he needs the support of the entire North to fight them off. Everyone’s best chance at survival and victory is to work together.
Daenerys, meanwhile, has counted on ships from Yara and Theon Greyjoy to transport her Dothraki army and dragons to Dragonstone (in return the Greyjoys get sovereignty of the Iron Islands). The lesson? Working in a team, whether it be to stave off an army of zombies, or to complete a major project in the office, combines individual strengths and leads to a greater chance at success. Make it a priority to building friendships (and form alliances).
“Yesterday’s wars don’t matter anymore.”
To fight off the White Walkers, Jon Snow has chosen to forgive those that have betrayed his family in the past. Political bickering, he decides, pales in comparison to a coming icy doom. Jon Snow may know nothing, but he knows enough to keep personal grudges of the past from getting in the way.
This is a valuable lesson for anyone that’s ever had a nemesis in the office – someone you just didn’t see eye to eye with. You’re not going to be everyone’s friend, but you’ll often need to collaborate with co-workers you don’t like.
See here for more on how to get along with co-workers you don’t like.
Seek out mentors
Daenerys is headstrong and confident, but she also knows the value of surrounding herself with people who can give her good advice. Over the years, Ser Jorah Mormont, Ser Barristan Selmy, Daario Naharis, Grey Worm, Missandei, and now Tyrion and Varys have counseled her on everything from: her past; the culture of the Unsullied; slavery; the towns she conquers; royal families; and political strategy.
Similarly, don’t be afraid to seek out advice from people who are more knowledgeable than you – even people you don’t like. As Sansa said in the premiere of season seven, she even learned a great deal from Cersei, who has always been an enemy.
Don’t be intimidated
Lady Mormont may be small, but by the way she carries herself, and the way she speaks, she commands respect. She is never afraid to stand up and let her voice be heard, even in the face of those who might underestimate her, or try to intimidate her.
She is just one of many Game of Thrones characters who illustrate the power of confidence and self-belief. Regardless of your age, gender, or size, you can only get intimidated and pushed around if you allow it.