- Courtesy of HBO
Warning: “Game of Thrones” spoilers ahead
The special effects and set pieces on “Game of Thrones” are pretty awesome, but it’s the sprawling cast of flawed, familiar characters that keep us coming back for more pain.
There are limits to our ability to relate to this group, of course. Obviously, you’re never going to need to rally the obstinate Northern houses to fend off a White Walker invasion or pledge your life to a scary murder cult or fly on some big, scaly dragons. (Alternatively, if that sounds like your life, let’s hang out).
We can’t necessarily relate to their jobs either – knights, Night’s Watch commanders, pirates, assassins, conquerors, and whatever it is that Littlefinger does (professional creeper?) aren’t professions that really factor into our modern service economy.
Still, there are plenty of takeaways from the show that you can apply to your own life. Here are nine big career lessons that’ll hold you over until the next season.
Your team is crucial
Daenerys is where she is today – cruising in a sweet Ironborn fleet – because of her talented squad. Tyrion, Grey Worm, Missandei, and Daario helped her lock it down in Meereen. Varys, the Queen of Thrones, and Ellaria Sand have paved the way for her forces in Westeros. Yara and Theon have provided the rides.
Meanwhile, up in Winterfell, Jon Snow’s being subjected to chants that he’s the new King in the North. He was dead a few episodes ago. That’s evidence of how much difference a good support system can make.
Dany and Jon have both surrounded themselves with crack teams and are currently reaping the benefits (let’s see how long their winning streaks last, though – this is “Game of Thrones”).
Don’t underestimate people
Ramsay underestimated his dogs and became puppy chow. Walder Frey underestimated everyone and ended up eating it – and by “it” I mean a pie made from his dead sons.
Sansa, Davos, and Jon underestimated Lyanna Mormont and got verbally eviscerated. (Don’t be fooled by her age, she’s got 62 soldiers and they all fight with the strength of 10 men).
For all his Machiavellian prowess, the High Sparrow underestimated Cersei in the end.
The lesson? Don’t underestimate your competition. Don’t underestimate your friends. Don’t underestimate yourself.
Still, sometimes you’ve got to make bold moves and take some calculated professional risks, whatever that means for you. Don’t burn your clothes off in any tent fires to impress people, but do empower yourself and take charge of your own career.
Trust is important
- Helen Sloan/HBO
Yes, untrustworthy people succeed – in life and on “Game of Thrones.”
In a startling instance of bad guys winning, Walder Frey and Roose Bolton both betrayed the Starks at the Red Wedding and basically killed everyone.
What do Walder and Roose have in common now? They’re both dead – Bolton slain by his bloodthirsty bastard son and Frey slain by Arya Stark disguised as a waitress.
In Frey’s case, he didn’t just have a reputation for dishonesty – he was also considered incompetent. Jaime Lannister made it clear that he couldn’t trust the Freys to hold Riverrun, noting that this would strain the relationship between the houses going forward.
Basically, being sneaky can lead to some short term gains, but it typically catches up with you in the long run. So don’t go around stabbing people in the back (or anywhere, really).
On the flip side, make sure you can trust the people you surround yourself with. The Blackfish was awesome, but he made the mistake of leading an army that turned out to be loyal to his imprisoned nephew, not him.
Refine your pitch
Remember that weird but compelling story the late High Sparrow told about waking up hungover and deciding to join a cult?
Daenerys is all about those big, inspiring speeches about conquest and freedom (preferably delivered while perched on a dragon).
This season, Sansa and Jon were also able to present a compelling story that appealed to their audience – ‘the North knows no king in the North and his name is Stark.’
Basically, make sure you’re able to sell yourself. Refine that elevator pitch.
Cut your losses
- Macall B. Polay/HBO
Sometimes, opportunities turn sour. You’re really excited about your new internship, until it turns out you’re expected to fetch coffee or stalk and assassinate innocent actresses.
Arya Stark was a good assassin, but she wasn’t cut out for the ruthless House of Black and White. So a girl made the smart choice and booked a passage back to Westeros.
For Daenerys, getting kidnapped by the Dothraki was actually a great motivator. She’d been mired in Meereen’s bloody political situation. Wresting control of the horde from the khals allowed her to finally launch her invasion and ditch Slaver’s Bay.
Basically, don’t get bogged down and burned out. If something’s not working, switch up your scene or routine until you reclaim your mojo.
Don’t be afraid of rejection
Rejection is a natural part of anyone’s career.
Jon Snow and Sansa Stark had to bounce around between Northern houses to rally support, getting rejected at nearly every turn. Meanwhile, those Dothraki khals and the Slavers mocked the Mother of Dragons for her big ideas about invading Westeros and abolishing slavery.
Not everyone’s going to believe in your dreams and goals. That’s okay. You should still put yourself out there, if you want to succeed.
Don’t give up
“Game of Thrones” can be a pretty depressing show, but sometimes it’s a bit like a blood-splattered motivational poster.
Sansa broke free of her terrible situation, reclaimed Winterfell, and vanquished Ramsay Bolton by enlisting the help of her half-brother and rallying the North.
Jon Snow was freaking dead. Now he’s alive, because of magic and the sheer determination of his friends (and his recent acquaintances Melisandre and Davos).
During the finale, things weren’t looking so hot for Cersei until she used wildfire to burn her enemies alive.
Remember that the next time you feel down and out at your job. You can still turn this around.