Game of Thrones is probably the best show I’ve ever seen. Every week, my girlfriend and I watch it, glued to the screen for an hour and then we eagerly await the next episode the following week. The time between when the season ends in July and the next season starts in April seems to go on Forever.
If you watch the show as well, you know how good it is. But what you don’t probably realise is that there are many career lessons you can learn from watching Game of Thrones.
I had some of these ideas while watching the show. While the general plot of trying to take the throne might not appeal to everyone’s career path, there are some lessons that the characters can teach us.
Spoiler Alert: This article references the story up until Season 6, Episode 3, which aired on May 9th, 2016. If you haven’t seen up until this point, some of it won’t make sense, and some might actually spoil some plot points for you.
1 – Learn From Those Who Are More Experienced Than You
Throughout your career, you’ll be working with people who are more experienced than you. Learn from them and what they do. They can offer a lot of information and knowledge about their role and skills in the job.
When Arya goes to train with Jaqen H’ghar, she doesn’t know a lot about fighting and his lifestyle. Sure, she had some formal training earlier in the show, but when she wants to know more, she seeks out a more experienced person to learn more from.
You probably have formal training from university or college, but at some point you’ll learn more from your on-the-job training or by working with others who are more experienced.
2 – If You Want to Achieve Something, Be Persistent
Most of us have goals for our career. Whether it’s the career equivalent of ruling the throne, a leader of an army, or a teacher in a small town, each of our goals represent what we want to achieve and what we are working for.
If you want to achieve your goals, don’t give up. If it’s something you really want, be persistent. Take small steps towards this goal and you’ll have a much better chance of achieving your goal.
In the recent seasons, Brienne of Tarth has made it her goal to find Sansa Stark and protect her. She faced several obstacles on her way, but she kept at it.
The same can be said for many of the other characters in Game of Thrones. It seems they all have a goal.
3 – When You Face a Major Change, Keep Being Helpful
If you are let go during your career, or if you have a major role change that’s outside what you normally do, try to focus on being helpful and useful in your new role.
Looking for a new job can be hard if you’ve been let go, but make the most of the situation and focus on the kind of role you want to get and how you can do it in the best way you can.
If you’ve changed roles at work, if your team has merged or split, or if you have got a new job, staying helpful and useful and continuing to perform will ensure that you fit into the role and do well at it.
In Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister has a major change when he flees King’s Landing and seeks out Daenerys Targaryen. He goes from being a slave to being a member of her council. He has continued to be valuable to her during a major change in his life.
4 – Being Nice is Often Better than Making Threats
It’s not very often in Game of Thrones that a character is nice and gets their way. They are all plotting and scheming to overthrow each other, whether it’s politically or by using violence.
However, one consistent example of where being nice has its rewards over being violent is how Varys conducts his business.
He’s someone who knows a lot of information about a lot of things. When he wants something, it’s often easy for him to get it.
Varys isn’t a fighter though. In a recent episode, he needed some information about a rival gang, and rather than torture or imprison the person that they could get information from, he was friendly. He made her an offer which gave her a lot of benefit, and he got the information he needed.
So, in your career, it helps to be nice to people and help them wherever you can. A situation where both people win is better than a situation where you win and the other person loses – or vice versa.
5 – Don’t Be Afraid to Stand Up For Your Opinions Occasionally
As you get more experienced in your role, your company, and the technology you work with, you’ll learn more about it. You’ll form opinions about the best way to do things and about other people’s ideas.
While you need to be careful about which opinions you make clear, you should feel comfortable voicing your own opinions if the matter is important.
If the team is planning a project and you have a suggestion on how it could be planned better, make the suggestion. If you have a concern over something or a way to improve the performance of a system, let people know.
Jaime Lannister made his opinion known when he met the High Sparrow in a recent episode. He was straight-forward with him and didn’t avoid the issue. But, he knew when to stop – he didn’t draw his sword in the church with the High Sparrow’s guards around.
So, you’ll eventually learn when to voice your opinions, and when to stop pushing them, which can be a fine line.
6 – Use Your Network to Find New Roles
Many people say that your network, or the people you know, are the most valuable asset to your career.
Your technical experience is important, I think, but knowing the right people can really help, especially when you’re looking for a new role.
If you ever get laid off, or are looking for a different role, then get in contact with people you know. People you’ve worked with in the past, friends, former classmates during university – many of them can offer assistance when finding a job. This can make it much easier.
One Game of Thrones character who has done this well is Petyr Baelish. He has moved around a lot within the show, gathering titles and using people for his own gain. While his methods may show he is selfish, he is an example of using his connections to other people to help his career.
7 – Always Keep Learning and Improving
In Season 1, the King was Robert Baratheon. He used to be a great fighter when he was younger and fitter. Now, he’s old, unfit, lazy, and can’t really do much. He’s lost the impact he once had, and while he is still King, he would have been more effective if he stayed on top of his game.
The Game of Thrones career lesson to learn from this is that it’s important to always keep learning and improving. Working in IT is a constantly changing industry, with new versions of software and new technologies being released all the time. You might feel like it’s OK to rest on what you already know, but if you don’t keep up, then you’ll find it hard to keep your job and get jobs in the future.
There are plenty of ways to keep up your education and self-improvement. You can read books. You can take online courses. You can attend live seminars. You can practice new skills in your own time.
Don’t end up like Robert Baratheon!
8 – Don’t Get Too Complacent
One of my favourite characters in Game of Thrones was Prince Oberyn. He was a popular character, a good fighter, and had a mission to seek revenge for a death in his family.
However, during a fight scene, it seemed he got too complacent and over-confident, and it came back to hurt him.
The lesson to learn from this is that you should never get complacent. If your project is on schedule or ahead of schedule, don’t relax about it, as one issue or mistake could put it behind.
If you feel you know everything about a particular technology, or that you know exactly what the business wants, be careful. If you’re not open to new ideas or other opportunities, then you may lose your position when you least expect it.
It won’t be as dramatic as Game of Thrones, though. You might find yourself just being replaced in your role.
9 – You Can Be Happy Without Ruling the World
Most of the characters want to become King (or Queen) or rule in some way or another. Many characters want to rule the Iron Throne, or be close to those who are ruling it.
But, there are some who want no such responsibility. Samwell Tarly is one of those. A member of the Night’s Watch, he now has a son and a love. His new goal in life is to become a trained maister.
This is what will make him happy and fulfilled. He has no desire to become King or rule an army.
The moral here is that you can be happy without becoming king of your “land”. You don’t need to run the company or become a senior manager to be happy. Many people I know are more fulfilled as a developer, and moving into management would not be enjoyable for them.
10 – If You Want to Get to the Top, You’ll Need The Help of Others
On the other hand, if you want to get to the top of your career path, you’ll need to work hard.
Daenerys has aspirations of taking back the Iron Throne, as she believes it is rightfully hers. There’s no bigger goal than that in Game of Thrones.
However, she’s not going to do it alone. She has a close council of advisors, who she seeks their opinion from on many occasions. They each have different strengths, and don’t always agree with each other or even with Daenerys. But, they are her council anyway.
If you’re looking to get to a high position in your field, you’ll need mentors. You’ll need a group of people who you can ask for advice and information from about your roles and career. You’ll find it much easier this way.
11 – Take an Opportunity When You See It
Another Game of Thrones career lesson is the ability to take an opportunity when you see it.
Back in the early seasons, Bronn, a mercenary, helped arrest Tyrion for attempted murder. During the trial, he decides to change his position and take Tyrion’s side in combat, winning the battle. Bronn then stays with Tyrion, becomes the Commander of the City Watch, and is now close with Jaime Lannister.
This all started from Bronn taking the opportunity that he saw, which was to defend Tyrion.
In your career, you’ll come across opportunities that may take you on a different path. If you can see the good in them, or think that it might be a good move, then consider taking the opportunity. It could be a defining moment in your career.
I got my first role as a Business Analyst by hearing that my client was after a BA when I was a developer with BA skills. I asked her if I could fill the role, she accepted, and that started my role as a full-time business analyst.
12 – Work to Your Strengths
The final Game of Thrones career lesson that I have for you is that you should always work to your strengths.
There’s a wide variety of characters in Game of Thrones. Some are good at fighting, some are good at talking, and some are good at seducing other characters.
One character who really plays to his strengths is Tyrion Lannister. He’s often dismissed due to his size, and isn’t a very good fighter. But, he gets what he needs from his ability to talk to others and his wit. He gets into and out of situations that many other people can’t, because of his great ability to talk.
So, a lesson from this is that you should play to your strengths. It’s better to specialise in your career in what you’re good at, than try to become a “jack of all trades” and improve your weaknesses. I’m not a very good web developer, so I stay away from web development work. But, I like to think that one of my strengths is databases, so I look for roles and work that involves databases.
What are your strengths? Once you know what they are, stick with them
So, there you have it. A list of 12 Game of Thrones career lessons that you can use to help your career.
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