What Game of Thrones Can Teach us About EQ Fitness

by | May 14, 2019 | Leadership

If you haven’t watched the final season of Game of Thrones, you may not want to read on…

I keep thinking about the epic battle, the Great War, that ensued in episode 3. HBO did a good job of showing the good guys of Westeros feeling despair and hopelessness, especially when the Night King brought all those White Walkers they’d killed back to life.

Arya Stark, sister of Jon Snow, (the ultimate good guy) has always been a fascinating character to me. Her journey throughout the show has been its own epic battle. So here’s how I see it tying into EQFitness, which is three things: ego management, making efforts to build trust, and having generosity of heart. Ready?

How Is Arya Emotionally Fit?

In season four, Arya travels to Braavos. This is where she meets Jaquen H’ghar, the Faceless Man. When you read the backstory of this dude you’re not really sure if he’s an assassin or good guy. He whips Arya into shape to become a warrior by forcing her to clean up dead bodies — worse than commodes when you think about it — and, critically, to decry her ego.

“Who are you?” Jaquen asks.

“I am no one.” Arya quietly responds.

“WHO ARE YOU?” he asks again and again, and she keeps repeating what she’s learned.


Fast forward to this season, and the war in episode 3. Who ends up taking out the Night King and winning the war for Westeros? Arya. In that one moment she becomes not just ‘someone,’ but a clear heroine for her brothers and sisters on the battlefield.

How Can We Be More Like Arya?

I’ve met a lot of people on my current book tour for Fully Human. Many of them, truthfully, look bleak and beaten down by their jobs. I felt some of that speaking to leaders of the US Treasury earlier this month. Like they are no one. I wanted to say, ‘Be Arya.’ You can be a hero or heroine too, maybe not in the epic way she was, but in the small moments.

When you display your EQFitness to help a coworker do a task in an easier way, a way you’ve already mastered. Or if you lead a team, by showing your own vulnerability and humanity in trying to master something and reminding your teammates ‘hey, this is a hard one for all of us!’ To laugh at yourself — what a soothing tonic laughter is.

I know when I speak to people about Fully Human and EQFitness, I’m painting an ideal view of the workplace. Having lived through many epic workplace battles myself, I recognize that more often than not, the ideal is not the real. But it could be, if you try to embrace the practices of EQFitness, like we tried to do at HGTV as we built our culture. As a single person you can’t transform a whole culture, I get it, but you can change your own team: one moment, one gesture at a time.

How do you see EQFitness tying into Game of Thrones? I would love to hear your thoughts!

If you want to read more stories about emotional fitness, and get Susan’s Five Fast Tips for Building Trust, sign up here.


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