WARNING : SPOILERS. I’m not good at remembering what season or what time I saw something, so if you’re not all caught up and worried about something being spoiled, then bookmark this and read it once you’re caught up. 🙂
I used to make fun of people who watched Game of Thrones, and now I’m one of those people. 🙂 I don’t typically enjoy watching shows like that, and my husband makes fun of me because my favorite scenes are NOT the battle scenes or even the dialogue, but instead I love to watch people pursue their goals and make strategic decisions and watch how those play out.
After watching the new episode on Sunday night, I realized I’ve actually learned a lot from Game of Thrones. A lot about leadership, strategy, and people skills. But also a lot about productivity. And while everyone else is writing about Game of Thrones, I bet no one else is thinking about productivity lessons from Game of Thrones.
So without further ado, here’s 7 productivity lessons from Game of Thrones.
1. You must be completely focused and obsessed with reaching your goals, no matter how derailed you might get from time to time.
When you’re trying to reach an ambitious goal, it’s easy to get disappointed when things happen to veer you off course. It seems like no matter how hard you try, you just can’t get there. Something is always throwing you off! It’s easy to give up, but don’t.
There’s a lot of great examples of this in Game of Thrones, but my favorite is Daenerys Targaryen. Her goal has been clear since the very beginning – she wants to build an army and storm King’s Landing and claim the Iron Throne. Every season (heck, almost every episode it feels like), there’s something that sets her back. But she keeps going, and she never changes course. Will she reach her goal and conquer the throne? We don’t know yet, but no one can deny that she’s come along way from where she started.
2. Aim for something even bigger than you can imagine, and do it.
What’s the point of having a goal if it’s no so ambitious it seems a little impossible?
GOT doesn’t just teach us to be focused on our goals… it teaches us to reach for big ones, too. I love that ambitious goals aren’t reserved for royalty or house leaders, but everyone can do something outside their comfort zone that no one thought was possible.
Did anyone think Sam Tarly could kill a white walker? Don’t focus your goals on something that seems doable or within your comfort zone. Stretch yourself and you’ll see how far you can go.
3. Get help from others to help you improve – don’t try to make learning harder than it needs to be.
It’s easy for our pride to get the best of us sometimes and prevent us from asking for help. But really – we need all the help we can get! There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help and learning from others.
My favorite example of this is when Jaime returns to King’s Landing after his capture and has to learn how to sword fight with just one hand. He’s the best swordsman in all of Westeros, but he’s not afraid to ask Bronn (another great swordsman) to help him train. If he hadn’t asked for help, he would have quickly become a poor swordsman. By asking for help, he grew to be even stronger.
Pod has no fear to ask for help – he asks a girl to teach him how to fight! He has no shame in asking for help from a mentor. Arya has a mission to kill people, but she knew better than to just start attempting to assassinations, and she started learning from people like the Hound and Jaqen H’ghar. (Not a goal that I recommend you taking on, but the lesson applies just the same – learn from others and don’t be afraid to ask for help.)
4. Never stop learning.
You can never learn too much, and no matter how much you know, there’s always something you don’t know.
I never suspected Sam Tarly to become one of my favorite characters, but he did and he teaches me so much, but one of the things he teaches is to always be learning.
Sam’s always got his nose in a book and everyone knows he’s smart, but you always find him learning something new. He never gets cocky, and he knows he doesn’t have all the answers, which is why he continues to search for them.
To be your most productive self, you must always be learning… learning your skill, learning how to manage your time, learning how to eliminate waste and distractions in your life. Be like Sam. Always be learning.
5. Eliminate obstacles.
As you try to reach your goals and get things done, you’re going to find obstacles that jump in your path, and it’s up to you to take action and get rid of them instead of just hoping they go away.
Like Sansa said… “I’ve learned a great deal from Cersei.” And while most of it is what NOT to do, there is one thing I think she does a fantastic job at. She eliminates obstacles that get in her way. Unfortunately, most of these are people. And she has them killed. Not a very admirable application, I know. But the underlying point is still worth noting…
Don’t let something stand in your way. If it’s holding you back, think through ways you can eliminate it. Struggling to wake up in the morning? Put your alarm clock/phone on the other side of the room. Struggling to maintain your diet because ice cream just tastes so damn good? Get it out of your house. Netflix taking up too much of your evenings? Delete your subscription. Eliminate obstacles, people. Cut them down so they can never destroy you.
6. Know your real motivation and your ultimate goal.
Never do something just for the sake of doing it. It’s easy to say “yes” when someone asks you if you can help with this or that. Or to do something just because everyone else is doing it. But it’s important to know what you really want and make sure it aligns with your goals.
Littlefinger is my favorite example of this because he specifically says that his goal is to get on the Iron Throne and with every action he takes, he asks himself is that action will get him closer. He’s a ruthless essentialist and an intelligent strategist. He knows his goal and doesn’t waste his energy on anything that doesn’t move him closer to that direction.
7. Be well connected – know the right people and maintain relationships.
Knowing the right people can get you far in life, and maintaining those relationships can make all the difference. This doesn’t mean you use people and abuse relationships for your own purposes. It means that the more connected you are, the more you’re able to help others, and the more help you’ll get in return, as well.
It seems like Varys has his little birds everywhere and is somehow connected to every place in the world. He’s able to share information and receive information and use it to benefit those he trusts and believes in.
Being connected with others will help you get far in life, because we can’t do things alone and the more we know, the more we can help others and solve problems.
So now what?
Have I learned enough about productivity from Game of Thrones that it makes up for the 60+ hours of tv I’ve watched? Well… jury is still out on that 🙂 But I think I’ve seen some valuable lessons played out and reminders to keep focusing on your goals and moving towards them strategically.
How about you? What have you learned about productivity from Game of Thrones?