Game of Thrones: Life Lessons from the Hit Fantasy Series

George R. R. Martin’s epic series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, known to the johnny-come-latelies by its TV adaptation, ‘Game of Thrones’, is perhaps the most popular series in the fantasy genre since Tolkien. Game of Thrones has it all: suspense, war, sex, vicious politics, and oh yeah, dragons. It is no surprise that the TV show has found an avid audience in both men and women. But apart from delicious entertainment, Game of Thrones offers more to its viewer. Sun Tzu’s Art of War, written over two thousand years ago, is still considered required reading for military strategists AND budding entrepreneurs. Similarly, Game of Thrones can give important lessons about life and success to its viewers. Once you look past the drama, direwolves and dragons, Game of Thrones is almost biblical in teaching one how to be a stronger leader, a brilliant strategist and a fearless warrior. For all those seeking success and power, here are a few ways that Game of Thrones can make you a better man…

Game of Thrones/ HBO

1.Take Responsibility for Your Decisions

“If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words.” – Ned Stark

We live in a time where loyalty and honour do not have meaning to people as they once did. The result of this is that fewer people take responsibility for their actions and words. With the help of the internet, cowards become cocky behind veils of anonymity. Thanks to a society built around bureaucratic hierarchies, significant decisions are dished out without fear of consequence. On the flip side, because of its rarity, the ability to own up to one’s decisions has become a coveted asset. Companies, clients, friends, and society at large, look up to those who stand behind their words, who own up to their mistakes and who are graceful in their defeat.

Game Of Thrones/HBO

2.Pay in Kind

“A Lannister always pays his debts” – Lannister unofficial motto

In the world of Westeros, the Lannisters are respected and feared for their coin. However, it is their unofficial motto of “a Lannister always pays his debts” that is truly representative of their power. The Lannisters are ruthless in their enmity, but generous in their friendship. The Lannisters can teach us an important lesson about success. In life, we are quick to take offence to insult and to seek vengeance when harmed. However, we are less inclined to credit others when we succeed or get praise. The winning formula is to recognize the support and encouragement of others who have helped you succeed. Be there for your friends the way they have been there for you. Others will be more likely drawn to you for your generosity than for your cruelty. In Game of Thrones, what makes Tyrion the most likeable Lannister is his penchant for kindness and sympathy. In the long run, repaying his debts also helps him survive.

Game of Thrones/HBO

3. Know When to Blend into the Background

“The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.” – Varys

Every prophet of strategy – from Sun Tzu and Machiavelli to Talleyrand and Kissinger – has talked about the importance of prudence. Many people who seek success make the mistake of showing their hand too quickly. Due to their greed and impatience, they alert people around them of their ambitions.  The problem is that society looks upon people who are overambitious with suspicion and mistrust. For those who seek success, it is important to sometimes take a step back. There are times when those who camouflage themselves and hide their true intentions that are best suited to succeed. In Game of Thrones, Varys displays this quality to perfection. With his (un-‘manly’) unassuming demeanour, Varys manages to avoid appearing as a threat to the power players, while he masterfully pulls the real strings in the political game.

Game Of Thrones/HBO

4. Trust No One.

“I did warn you not to trust me.” – Petyr “Little Finger” Baelish

In Game of Thrones, Ned Stark makes the mistake of trusting the shady Petyr Baelish and this costs him dearly. For those seeking success, it is important to be cautious and prudent. Life is unforgiving to those who are always naïve and carefree. This doesn’t mean that you should go through life being cynical and paranoid. It means that you should weigh other people’s intentions with care. If someone makes overtures of kindness or praise, you should ask yourself why they are doing so. Are they always generous in their kindness or are they looking out for selfish interests? At the same time, you shouldn’t let others know that you doubt their intentions because you can end up offending others. Be diplomatic and tactful while you test the true worth of people around you.

Game of Thrones/ HBO

5. Stop Fearing the Inevitable and Start Living Life to its Fullest.

“Every man must die, Jon Snow. But first, he must live.” – Ygrette

Many people fail to take initiative – to seek out what they want in life – because they are afraid of some unknown end. They are afraid of failure or embarrassment or death. Those who fear defeat never win. Conversely, many people get so caught up in chasing after some distant goal that they forget about everything around them. The secret to success is finding a balance between ambition and enjoyment. You must make every moment in life count. Be ambitious, but don’t forget to the smaller things in life. Take a moment out of your stressful life to appreciate what you already have. Be thankful for what you have already accomplished and smile.

Game Of Thrones/HBO

6. Turn Your Weakness Into Strength.

“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion Lannister

Many people use their past or a disability as an excuse. They constantly find something to blame for their failure: life, society, God, weather, etc. However, successful people are those who win in spite of their weaknesses. Winners take their inabilities and turn them into strengths. Instead of being ashamed of what they are, they wear it with pride. Rather than seeking sympathy, they demand respect. The world is full of examples of people who fought the odds – who wore their weakness like an armour – and succeeded.


Game Of Thrones/HBO

7. Be Prepared

“Winter Is Coming” – Stark motto

The Stark motto is an apt precaution to be used in life. Always be prepared. Know that the tide may turn against you at any time. Expect that life may throw a nasty curveball. If you prepare yourself for contingencies, you will be ready to weather any storm.




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