As I still recover from the most recent, devastating episode of Game of Thrones (which by the way took the Shakespearean tragedy to a whole new level), I’ve decided to focus my attention on another character and plot line. The character of Daenerys Targeryn was first introduced to us as a young, frightened exile- controlled by her twisted, ambitious brother and forced into an arranged marriage in a strange land. She was essentially the underdog with very few choices and virtually no say over how her life would unfold. However, through a series of miraculous events and with the help of loyal allies along the way, she has quickly risen to be possibly the next hope for the Kingdom of Westeros (assuming George Martin allows good to triumph over evil, which remains to be seen given his track record so far).
During this past season we have seen Daenerys come into her own and begin to take on the role of a leader. She has discovered her inner strengths, her purpose, and her abilities to lead and command respect in a world that underestimates her. So how has she gotten to this point? What are some of the characteristics of Daenerys’ rise to leadership that we can learn from- in lieu of the fact that we don’t have three loyal dragons at our disposal?
Here are some qualities that I’ve observed in Daenerys:
Sense of Entitlement: “I will take what is mine with fire and blood.” Daenerys’ family was overthrown and as the last remaining member of this dynasty, she knows that her sole mission in life is to reclaim the Iron Throne. Typically the concept of entitlement has negative connotations and is often associated with arrogance and privilege. However, there is a reasonable amount of entitlement that we all need to embrace in order to be a leader. Think about what it is you were born to do – this is your sense of entitlement. Coupled with humility and mutual respect for others, one can achieve long-term greatness while gaining the respect of your contemporaries and the individuals you lead.
Poker Face: Never let them see you sweat. Daenerys has learned how to do this quite well over the past three seasons. Yes, I realize she does have an entourage of guards protecting her at all times, as well as three dragons who can turn anyone who pisses her off into toast. However, along her journey to the Iron Throne she will come up against adversaries who will attempt to undermine her mission. She has handled such individuals who have insulted her to her face or tried to shake her confidence – by simply refusing to flinch and never looking away. There are many instances throughout our day-to-day lives when somebody in a seemingly comfortable position will try to challenge your abilities and knowledge- sometimes for the right reasons, but many times simply to maintain the status quo. Biding your time and staying cool under pressure will pay off.
Never Forget Your Roots: Daenerys was essentially a slave at the beginning of the series- having no control over her destiny. While the tide has turned for her, she stays true to her roots and maintains empathy for others. Her swift action to free two significant slave colonies has demonstrated this. Most powerful though was the choice she gave to the army of slaves – either leave or stay and fight for her. Their gratitude and loyalty became firmly entrenched the day they chose to stay with her.
Remember Your Strengths: We all have them. While it’s easy to focus on the negative, our shortcomings, what we don’t do enough of – it’s important to remember that our strengths often outnumber and outweigh these. Daenerys has her supernatural capabilities. We all have something supernatural-like – I would like to believe. Perhaps it’s a unique skill or knowledge you hold, an ability to negotiate or compromise, or simply an ability to empower and encourage those around you. Identify your strengths, remember them, and use them wisely at the most critical times.
Life is a long journey, as is Daenerys’ road to the Iron Throne. What we long along the way is most important.
Oh by the way, I’ve always wanted to start off a blog post with the words “Spoiler Alert.”