By Laura Gayle, Business Woman Guide
Like it or not, Game of Thrones has finally concluded. The ending may have been controversial, but there’s no question that the show and all its characters were a metaphor for contemporary society. Although the show was known for its sex and violence (as well as a few dragons), the machinations that went on alongside those sensationalistic scenes can offer insights into how to build followings and maintain popularity and power. Here are 6 strategies and lessons you can take away from Game of Thrones.
Expect Changes — and Surprises
You have to expect change, even if you can’t predict it. You also have to expect that, at some point, you’re going to get a surprise that nearly knocks you and your business off your feet.
Think of the Red Wedding (although any shocks you encounter hopefully won’t be that dire, or graphic) or the shocking destruction of King’s Landing. While you can’t predict exactly what will happen, you can do your best beforehand to make your business flexible enough to absorb any shocks to the system.
Plan for the Worst
On a related note, it’s much better to have a plan in place in case the worst happens — only to find you don’t need that plan because everything worked out swimmingly — than it is to assume things will generally go well, only to find they aren’t.
You don’t want to be seen as an overly negative person, but there’s an advantage to thinking ahead to the ways things could go wrong so you can get out in front of them. Imagine all the difficult situations you might need to prepare for and do so. In that case, the worst that can happen is you’ll find your preparations weren’t needed.
Keep Your Secrets
Along with not being able to predict everything that could happen, you also can’t predict who might turn on you. Hopefully your allies and partners are who they say they are. Nevertheless, it’s prudent to pay attention to any feelings that tell you something might not be right.
In any case, it makes sense to tighten your security measures and guard your secrets, like moving sensitive client and financial information to a secure cloud storage account, for example. News travels fast, in Westeros and in our world, but ravens can’t get into locked files.
Remember: Adversity Is Temporary
Over the course of the show, Cersei went from marrying the king to being pelted with food as she limped through the streets to sitting on the Iron Throne herself. It wasn’t exactly a picnic after that, of course, but it’s worth noting that the levels of adversity she experienced constantly fluctuated. There were times when it was horrendous and embarrassing, and others when things weren’t that dire and, in fact, were looking up.
Keep those shifting tides in mind as you work on your business. You’ll have your high points and your low points, but don’t get caught in the trap of thinking the low points will last forever. Be flexible enough to respond to your situation as it morphs: If your budget suddenly contracts and you need to cut costs, for example, consider moving to a city that’s less costly — like Phoenix, for instance, which boasts a low cost of living and 300 days of sun per year. Or if the bottom drops out of your market, be prepared with a different offering to narrow the gap.
Balance the Big Picture and the Details
You can get lost among the trees and not see the forest, to paraphrase the saying, but it’s dangerous to actually overlook the entire forest. Keep an eye on both the details and the big picture, and do what you can to keep them connected.
Jon Snow tried to downplay the conflicts between the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings, and it didn’t end well; yet, had he focused only on those conflicts, who knows how the battles with the White Walkers would have turned out? Follow his example and pay attention to the details of a project, but also keep an eye on the overall picture and goal — or, at least, seek the counsel of people whose perspectives complement and inform your own.
Watch What You Post
Who needs scribes when your internet usage is essentially a permanent record? To paraphrase the Greyjoy house words: “What is posted may never die.” That means what you post on social media, your blog, in someone’s comments, or elsewhere online will undoubtedly live on in an archive somewhere, even if you think the item is old and has been “lost.” Nope, it’s the internet. Be cautious about what you post. You don’t want anything to come back and haunt you, your reputation, or your business.
Whether you’re wearing chainmail or a blazer, your guidelines for achieving and maintaining the integrity of your organization are similar: Keep an eye on the forces around you as well as inside your own company; plan for the worst; and be vigilant. With or without dragons, you can rule your kingdom accordingly.