Life Lessons From Game Of Thrones

game of thrones lessons

Some shows are great entertainment but don’t apply in the real world. GOT isn’t one of those. Game of Thrones has many life lessons throughout the show that are extremely practical.

This hit series has become so popular that universities are now offering Game of Thrones courses for their students. That’s right, you can actually get college credits for comparing the book and the show, and discussing anthropology, sexuality, politics, and more.

The list of universities who offer these special courses includes the University of Virginia, Northern Illinois University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Tulsa, University of British Columbia, Rice University, State University of New York at Cortland, Drexel University, and Roanoke College. I’m sure more colleges will offer similar classes going forward.

So if you’re a big enough Thrones fan, maybe it’s worth it to transfer? I’m kidding, but crazier things have happened.

Don’t worry if your university is slow to the trend, because you can still learn timeless lessons from this show.

How Game Of Thrones Applies To You

game of thrones success
Pic from my Instagram account: @brianjrobben

Game of Thrones is more than a hit show. The show spends $10 million or more to produce every episode. It’s actor, Peter Dinklage, won a Golden Globe Award for his performance. The series has won 184 awards and received 305 nominations since 2011. And it’s a famous book series called A Song of Ice and Fire.

But that’s not the reason for this blog post. After all, Take Your Success isn’t one of those Game of Thrones hype pages. (Maybe it should be to get more views?)

My point is that Game of Thrones highlights applicable life lessons for young adults in each season and episode. You might miss these lessons in between all the action and drama, but they’re present.   

I admit this post is framed in a less serious context than normal. But it is what you make of it. Sometimes writing about success in a different context can lead to clarity for someone, or you, that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

So keep an open mind, and keep reading. (FYI: There are many spoilers below.)

7 Game Of Thrones Life Lessons

1. Know who to trust

Trust the wrong person in GOT and your head might be on a stick. Trust the right person and you can develop a powerful political alliance that serves the interests of both parties.

Unfortunately for the Starks, Rob Stark trusted that Walder Frey would keep the sacred pact of peace while eating together during a wedding. Instead, Fey had all the Starks executed in a gory mess during the Red Wedding.

On the other hand, Tyrion wisely trusted Lord Varys to help him escape the city by hiding in a box crate on a ship. Thus avoiding his execution and saving his life because of this trust.

Those are two examples of how trust can cost or save your life.

Application: While your life isn’t on the line if you don’t know who to trust like it is in Thrones, there can be severe consequences for telling classified information to the wrong person. Broken friendships, relationships, and employment opportunities have all occurred thanks to people breaking the line of trust.

So don’t share a secret to your roommate if they’re going to go behind your back and tell the person what you shared to them. Or don’t tell your coworker dirt about your boss if they have a big mouth. Consider who you’re talking to and trust your instincts before you share dangerous information. You never know when it will come back to haunt you if the listener has a loose tongue.

2. Your family and friends are all you got

The goal to protect or advance the family name is at the core of many Thrones fights. The family name for the Lannisters, Starks, and Targaryens holds the utmost importance to individuals who bear the name. So much so that they’re willing to die, and have died, for it.

Because of this mindset, family often comes before integrity and other noble pursuits. All morality goes to the wayside when a family member is threatened or endangered.

We definitely see this family first mentality in Cersei. Although she’s an evil monster, her intentions are pure because they come out of love for her family and children. It’s strange to think that at the core of such despair for other humans is Cersei’s love.

Application: You never know how much you need your support system until you’re faced with a struggle and have nowhere else to turn. And your loved ones are a blessing because they will always be there in times of need.

So appreciate these people. Give your parents a call during the school year to say you love them and speak their love language. Or FaceTime your siblings to see how they’re doing and tell them you much you miss them.

And if you go to a college different from your high school friends, don’t forget about them. Reach out to these old friends when you come across something that reminds you of them. Small communications like this will take little time, but have a big payoff.

3. The world is hard

What’s clear from Game of Thrones is that the world isn’t full of sunshine and happy people.

Jon Snow’s own men betrayed him and stabbed a dagger in his heart. Bran is crippled for life and can’t walk. Cersei has had two of her children die, one right in front of her eyes. Ned Stark, Catelyn Stark, and Rob Stark were all brutally executed in public. Theon Grayjoy lost his man part and his humanity for a long stretch. Stannis Baratheon had his own daughter burned at the stake before dying in battle himself.

I could go on and on, but you get the point. It’s a cruel world in the Seven Kingdoms and beyond. No character goes untouched to hardship.

Application: Navigating the real world to grab the job that leads to a satisfying career is also hard. There’s competition everywhere when applying for internships and full-time positions. Meaning it’s challenging enough to get a good job, and even harder to get your dream job—especially at age 22.

Just like in Thrones, it requires ambition and patience to reach your goals through the difficulty. And you can use some resources along the way.

Order The Golden Resume to creatively market yourself and tell powerful stories in your job interviews. Or learn how to use Twitter to find a job for an outside the box approach. Although the world is hard, all the obstacles can be overcome.

4. Experience breeds strength

You wouldn’t wish Arya Stark’s childhood on your worst enemy. This girl saw her beloved father beheaded. Then learned her mom and brother were murdered. The Lannisters ripped her entire family apart. Talk about a rough life!

But she didn’t give up when she had every reason to do so. No, she committed to avenging her father, mastered her sword skills, and is the toughest cookie on the show in my opinion. She killed a guy and didn’t think twice about it.

In the current season, she has been beaten, blind, and stabbed but she continues to fight on in strength.

Application: Complaining gets you nothing in life. So get rid of the bad attitude the second it comes over you. Instead, be positive about the lessons gained from your struggles to keep moving forward.

For example, it’s a shame you failed an exam, but you can’t go back in time to change that. You can only learn from it and become a better, more prepared student going forward. So if this happens to you, read about these exam mistakes and study a week in advance.

Or if you’ve applied to 15 jobs and were denied by all of them, the best move is not to sit on your bed and cry. It’s to review what you’re doing wrong to come at it with a new approach. Research a company and make a customized resume. Practice good interview answers. At the time struggles suck, but over time you’ll realize they helped you improve as an individual.

5. Knowledge is power

Varys has a network of spies, including children, who inform him of the secrets and vital information in the kingdom. This is the reason he’s always seen as a valuable asset.

Cersei remains powerful through blackmail and threatening information on her enemies.

Littlefinger survives and is a game changer based on his intel that comes ever so in handy in tight situations.

And although Tyrion is a dwarf, his knowledge gives him far more influence than physically stronger characters.

These characters haven’t died like other notable ones, and it’s because they play one step ahead with their knowledge.

Application: Because knowledge is power when it comes to your college and career success, it’s crucial that you constantly seek it in your field.

Go to office hours to get extra, outside-of-class information on the material. Intern at an organization that’s going to push your understanding further. Start a major project or do research on your own. If you continue to have the learner’s mentality, there’s no limit on your potential.

It’s because of this reality that I’m always reading books. You never know what you’ll learn from a non-fiction or fiction book, so start reading. Read the best books for college students, search the bestseller list on Amazon, and grab books at a local bookstore. Since knowledge is power, read often and you’ll be well prepared for whatever life throws at you.

6. You can’t do everything on your own

About every episode of Game of Thrones highlights the concept that people rely on other people to succeed.

For example, Dany desires the counsel of Daario, Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei to run Meereen. And now the mother of dragons needs the help of others to get a thousand ships to set sail and conquer more territory.

It’s also the exact reason why in last episode (“The Broken Man”) Jon Snow and Sansa Stark were going through The North asking for different house’s support to take back Winterfell  by defeating Ramsay Bolton’s army. They need help to reclaim their castle, and they can’t reach their goals by themselves.

Application: It’d be nice if you could do everything on your own in your group project, internship hunt, or career, but you can’t. That’s why a huge skill to develop is emotional intelligence.

When you’re able to understand and cooperate effectively with other people, you’re immediately seen as an all-star and you’ll deliver everywhere you go. Interviewers will sense your charm. People will feel compelled to help you out, to pull all their strings to see you succeed. These things will be the norm when you truly connect with others.

Emotional intelligence is underrated, but those who master, like Bill Clinton, do big things.

7. Take action

Petry Baelish and Daenerys Targaryen are always taking action to advance their goal of reaching the Iron Throne. No strategy and no action means no progress for them, which isn’t their lifestyle.

Jon Snow always takes action to lead by example in battle or politics. In doing he inspires almost everyone around him to do more and become better. Even Samwell Tarly starts to believe in himself because of Jon Snow’s actions. Snow is arguably the most lovable Thrones character based on his integrity to take action for what’s right, no matter if it’s popular.

And the reason King Tommen sucks is because he doesn’t do anything.

Application: Don’t wait for everything to align perfectly so you can fall into your destination. Go out and do what you love.

If you’re unhappy at work, find work that you enjoy. Spend time traveling to learn about this beautiful world. Enjoy the pleasure of being loved and loving other people.

Life is best lived by doing and not watching. You only get one chance to live so give it your all with no regrets.

What lesson from Game of Thrones applies best to your life? Who is your favorite character? Comment below with any Game of Thrones discussion and I’ll respond to every comment.

Brian Robben

Brian Robben is the founder of Take Your Success, a site dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs grow a profitable business and reach freedom. For in-depth training, visit: