Women In Business

3 business lessons for women from Game of Thrones

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It finally happened – Game of Thrones is over. Like other fans, I’m feeling a flurry of different emotions. But, there’s one truth that’s clear – this story has captivated myself and millions more. For us, it’s more than just a simple TV finale – rather, a chapter of our lives has come to a close. So, to honor the show as well as to share some insights, I’ve put together some of the most important takeaways from the show that are vital for female business leaders.

1) The change of Arya Stark

Over the course of her story, Arya has dealt with enormous loss — her father, her mother, two of her brothers, her sister-in-law and her uncle were murdered. She literally watched her father’s head taken off and witnessed the infamous red wedding. She would end up carrying this trauma with her for many years.

Ultimately she turned this hate into a list of people to kill – letting revenge envelope her whole self. Every night before going to sleep, she would speak aloud the 13 names of those she was planning to kill. At this point, Arya lost herself to the hate in her heart. While she became a badass assassin, avenged the red wedding by killing dozens of the Freys and took down the Night King, she still wasn’t done. Hate was still in her heart – for the one name that was still left on the list: Cerci Lannister. As the battle of King’s Landing took place, she rushed inside the red keep with the Hound to take out the queen. As they approached a crumbling tower, she got some big advice from a big man: “Doesn’t matter, she’s dead. Look at me! You want to be like me?” The Hound says, referencing his own obsession with revenge and killing his brother. “You come with me, you die here”. Arya contemplates whether her singular obsession with the list is worth it – i.e. is revenge worth consuming your whole life?

Arya ends up changing her mind. She realizes that letting hate be her only guide was taking her down the wrong path. And, in arguably the most heart-melting moment of the season, she turns to her friend and says “Sandor, thank you”. Rather than continuing a suicide mission, she decides to turn west and sail to explore unknown lands – turning down Gendry’s proposal to be lady in Storm’s End and instead becoming her truest self. If we can find the courage, we can throw aside those stories we tell ourselves and change course. In real life, this usually looks less like hate/vengeance and more like “proving ourselves” to our parents, teachers or friends. We tell ourselves that we have to go down a career path to show the world we’re good enough. But it’s okay to let go of these stories and follow what’s calling you inside.

It’s okay to change your mind.

Sunk cost fallacy tells us that, just because you’ve been investing in one path, doesn’t mean you need to stick with it…especially if it’s the path of failure. In business, we’ll be faced with these kinds of decisions all the time. Be open and fail fast – the speed of learning will decide your success rate.

2) The pride of Cersei Lannister

Cersei always knew her fate – from the prophecy laid out by the witch in the woods (watch here). It said “You’ll be queen, for a time. Then comes another, younger, more beautiful, to cast you down and take all you hold dear”. Which makes the death of her, her child and Jamie even more tragic. She couldn’t imagine anything but a binary option – win or die. For many of us leaders, we make decisions and stick with them – even if all evidence points against it. Like Cersei, we ignore Tyrion’s warning us to admit defeat. Like Cersei, we ignore our trusted advisors when they tell us the sky is falling. Like Cersei, we let our ego clouds our judgement & get in the way of rational decision making.

In business, we have competition coming at us in every direction. When we’re in the thick of the fight, we believe it’s binary… a win or lose situation. But we need to learn to humble ourselves to facts and truth – because, like Cersei, we have something to lose. We have our employee’s livelihood, our investor’s cash in the bank and our family’s security to think about. Maturity means sometimes selling your company for less than you had hoped. Maturity means admitting losses or lawsuits to your board after a tough quarter. Maturity means laying off some of your team to extend your runway to fight again another day.

3) The voice of Lyanna Mormont

Throughout the show, we’re given plenty of women to admire — from Catelyn Stark to Yara Greyjoy to Brienne of Tarth. But there is little doubt that one stands out — Lady Lyanna Mormont. Small in stature but a giant nonetheless. Literally, she killed a zombie giant (watch here). But this is not why we admire her most – rather, it’s her ability to find her fearless voice in rooms full of men. Her most famous speech is when she speaks out against three northern houses for refusing the call of House Stark in their time of need. A true leader of the Mormonts, she invokes an age old truism – “the north remembers”. Rather than being put down as a child or as a woman or as being a small house, her confidence and truth shone through. “The lady speaks harshly, and truly”.

Later today, you may be sitting in a meeting. You may not be the most powerful person. You may be smallest person. But this doesn’t mean your voice is worthless. Especially in speaking truth to power, you must trust in your own voice. Especially for us women, it’s vital that you believe in yourself, speak your truth and have faith that it will be heard. Even if it’s dismissed here or there, do not get discouraged. We must fight for every inch to get our voices heard. If we’re strong in our faith, our voices can carry farther than we ever expected. Lyanna put it best: “We’re not a large house, but we are a proud one. And every one person from Bear Island fights with the strengths of 10 mainlanders.”

Whether it’s fiction or history, there’s always lessons to be found in stories. Us women need to learn together to find our voice, humble ourselves to lessons and be able to change on a dime. The truth is that women are underrepresented in leadership across corporations and government. Together, we can ensure more women rise to power by sharing our knowledge with each other, giving support when needed and holding up female role models like Lady Mormont.

About Jaira Romero

Jaira Romero is the co-founder of Remote Woman - a community of women helping each other find the best remote jobs. Jaira has a strong background in marketing, communication and social media. She is on the forefront of community building. And, if it’s not already obvious, she is a huge fan of Game of Thrones :)

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