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6 Lessons For Entrepreneurs From Game Of Thrones

6 Lessons For Entrepreneurs From Game Of Thrones

Game of Thrones is coming to us with a 6th season, which is a great opportunity to review what we know about the series until now. And more important, what we learned from the series. While most people focus on the murders, I tried to go beyond them and analyze why each character did those outrageous things. And this is how I found Game of Thrones offers a lot of valuable lessons for entrepreneurs!

1. Do not owe anyone, anything

The famous line of the Lannisters is “A Lannister always pays his debts”, which is probably the most valuable tip in this list of lessons for entrepreneurs from Game of Thrones. If Tyrion and his gang used this rule to justify the slaughter, entrepreneurs can use it to make sure their business thrives.

As a businessman your goal is to maximize the profit, but you must always pay your debts! As soon as you leave your debts to gather, you enter a downward road, which is not going to end with a cool breeze from the business market! In fact, not even the most powerful air conditioner will be able to cool down your employees and partners, if you’ve failed to pay them on time. Worse, your business rivals are waiting for this dark scenario to happen, so they can steel your employees and partners, along with your internal secrets.

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The take away: always pay your debts, for the safety of your company.

If you do fail, everyone in the market will recognize you as a reliable, serious entrepreneur, so they will be willing to work with you again.

2. Do not fear bad times

Littlefinger’s favorite line is “Chaos is not a pit, but a ladder” and he couldn’t be more right! For an entrepreneur, the best times are bad ones, when you need to struggle and learn a lot of things on the go. During bad times you have to act fast and dare to take bold decisions. If your company manages to survive during tough times, when the storm makes room for bright sun, your company is going to sail in full bloom. One of the best lessons for entrepreneurs you can take away from Game of Thrones is seeing tough times as opportunities, not obstacles.

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3. If you need to reinforce your status as a leader, you’re sitting on a thin layer of ice

As an entrepreneur, you have to inspire your employees and partners and gain your status as a boss. Successful entrepreneurs never have to say they are the boss, just like respected people never have to say “respect me”. In Game of Thrones, the Lannisters, (“Any man who must say I am the king is no true king”) act as rulers and they are seen as rulers. In real life, you need to act like a boss, take the right decisions, be objective and never cross the boundaries. If you are a good entrepreneur, power will come to you on the way, as well as respect and profit.

4. Don’t be afraid to speak up

Tyrion Lannister also offers a great lesson for beginner entrepreneurs: he might not be taken seriously at some times, but this doesn’t stop him from speaking out loud. When you are a young entrepreneur, or you’re not even currently holding the status of an entrepreneur, but you wish you could run your own company one day, you need to be bold enough to speak up your mind. Don’t be afraid to step up in front of the line and share your ideas – you might be noticed by someone!

5. Don’t be unfair to your employees or partners

The entire Game of Thrones series is rich in bloody leaders who inspire fear in everyone who dares to look up to them. With one exception: Daenerys. The blonde teen becomes the beloved Khaleesi due to her kindness. When you translate this into business world, you gain important lessons for entrepreneurs: don’t be cruel entrepreneur, employer and partner. Yes, you do want people to respect you and listen to you, but using cruelty is not the way to gain loyalty.

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Never try to intimidate others and gamble on your skills to get contracts and grow your business. In the long run, this approach will gain you a lot of friends and trusted partners, which are essential for a successful entrepreneur.

Also, listen to your team! If you fail to do this, you might become a despised leader. Looking at Game of Thrones’ Joffrey Baratheon, you can see the side effects of such a leader. On the business market, being despised is a sure way to kill your company, as your reputation is an important drive for businesses.

6. Never break your word

In businesses, your word is sacred! Once you’ve broken a promise, you’ve lost your word as well as your credibility. Without a valid word, you are going to have a tough life in the business world, where many agreements and contracts start with a discussion at a smoke. Retrieving your credibility is almost impossible, so make sure you never break a promise. Who taught us this from Game of Thrones? Robb Stark, who promised to wed a Frey woman, than completely forgot about it and we all know the bloody consequences of his broken promise.

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Lastly, remember the iconic line from Game of Thrones: Winter is coming!

The House of Stark doesn’t want to message us all that it’s time to open the winter coat chests, but they want to say they are always looking forward to make sure they are never caught on a bad foot. Back to business, you have to look in the future and make sure you stay up to date with the latest innovations and technologies. The sooner you do this, the better for you. If you are preparing your “winter coats” in the summer, you are definitely going to win the Game of Businesses!

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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