Have you been patiently awaiting the next season of the Game of Thrones?
Like many I am sure, I have been catching up with the previous episodes and love the leadership and life lessons that we can be taught from the characters. George R Martin is masterful in his storytelling and the producers of the series have been fantastic in drawing us in to this compelling story.
The story has special relevance to me as many of the scenes are filmed not far from my home on the north coast of Antrim. Before you ask, sadly the scenes are not the ones of the sunny King’s Landing or Mereen, but rather the rugged coast of the Iron Islands (Balintoy) and the ‘Dark Hedges’ of the King’s Road. The Titanic Studios in Belfast is where the series is shot and the producers have exploited every nook and cranny of the Province for artistic effect. This has spurred a new industry in the old Titanic Quarter – the whistle stop tours of the north coast and many of the iconic scenes. You can find out more from discovernorthernireland.com
Ballintoy and its small fishing harbour can be found at the end of a small narrow steep road down Knocksaughey Hill, which passes by the entrance to Larrybane and famous Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
It was also known as Lordsport, Port of Pyke, where Theon returned to the Iron Islands as well as some of the areas around Dragonstone.
The Dark Hedges is an avenue of beech trees along Bregagh Road between Armoy and Stranocum. According to legend, the hedges are visited by a ghost called the Grey Lady, who travels the road and flits across it from tree to tree. She is thought to be either the spirit of James Stuart’s daughter (named “Cross Peggy”) or one of the local “big house’s” maids who died mysteriously, or a spirit from an abandoned graveyard beneath the fields, who on Halloween is joined on her visitation by other spirits from the graveyard.
It is also known as the King’s Road which has appeared many times but notably when Arya Stark escaped from King’s Landing disguised as a boy.
Here are a few great quotes that have caught my attention in the series so far and a few thoughts on the leadership and the life lessons that we can learn:
“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” — Ned Stark
What an inspirational leader Ned Stark was! Honour, duty, and righteousness were his key values. In the first episode, he teaches his son Bran that a leader should be willing to carry out their own orders rather than give unpleasant tasks to subordinates. How many toxic leaders ’talk the talk’ but fail to ‘walk the walk’? Contrast Ned’s example, with that of the hated (but brilliantly acted) Joffrey Lannister who failed at every opportunity to lead by example.
“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again — the fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love … illusions. Only the ladder is real, the climb is all there is.” — Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish
I have to admit that I have not read the books yet (I’m inundated with too much research to read for leisure!) so I am looking forward to the next series to find out what happens to Petyr! Will he fall from the ladder? Will the fall break him, or will he be a survivor – I would bet that he is! In real life, how many people ignore the challenge of chaos and cling to the safer illusions? I love challenges and risks to gain opportunities, so I would definitely be on the ladder. I am also a fervent believer in a growth mentality – better to try and fail, learn from the mistake and try again, rather than not try at all.
“Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, and it can never be used to hurt you.” — Tyrion Lannister
I love the astute Tyrion Lannister, whose wisdom is often hidden in his wit. When Jon Snow asks him what he knows about being a bastard, he replies that all dwarves are bastards in their father’s eyes and follows with this quote. In life it is important to have a realistic appreciation of who and what you are. Know your strengths and weaknesses and wear it like armour to help you when you face life’s opportunities and threats.
“I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel.” — Daenerys Targaryen
The Mother of Dragons has certainly had a number of challenges and learned a few lessons on the path to Westeros! She is not one to accept the status quo and whether it is taking the Dothraki across the salt sea in wooden horses, revolution in Qarth, Yunkai and Meereen – she is very clear what her mission is and will not permit anything to stand in her way. As one who was once herself oppressed, she now is their champion. Here she is speaking with Tyrion and notes that the clans are all just spokes on a wheel, with one after another clan on the top of the wheel as it spins, crushing those on the ground. Tyrion believes that Daenerys’ dream is to stop the wheel with her on top – but that’s not her aim! Her point is that when a system is faulty, even if you can come out on top, the system is fundamentally broken. Sometimes it is better to accept that a course of action is so broken that it needs to be fundamentally re-worked and started afresh.
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