I was so excited to see the first Episode of the new season of a Game of Thrones (much to my partners disdain).
It didn’t disappoint, bringing us up to date with the goings on of all the characters and the intertwining stories. (I always knew Melisandre was just an ugly old witch! 😉 )
There was a big gap where the courageous and honorable Jon Snow should have been.
His death in the last series was a shock and a great loss; to the program, to the battle of the realm against each other and the Whitewalkers and most importantly to the millions of deeply engaged viewers. (I sobbed my heart out!)
But what was it about him that created such a deep sense of loss when he died?
I believe the very qualities that made him the Commander of the Nights Watch would have also made the lovely Jon Snow an incredible entrepreneur.
Here’s what we can learn from his character;
Jon’s Entrepreneurial Qualities
Passion is about feeling so deeply for something (or someone), nothing or no-one could possibly get in your way from fulfilling that feeling.
For Jon Snow, this was his promise and his passion;
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come. The Night’s Watch Oath
So passionate was he about his oath, his actions propelled him to become Lord Commander of the Nights Watch shortly before his death by mutiny.
We knew as viewers that nothing (other than death) would stop him from fulfilling his duty as a guard of the Seven Kingdoms.
The same can be said for business. If you have that absolute, deep, unwavering passion for what you’re doing, nothing and no-one will stop you from taking the necessary steps to achieve your goal!
2. Risk Taker
Who walks into the enemy camp, after you’ve betrayed them to try and cut a deal (other than bankers!).
When Jon Snow went to open negotiations with Mance Rayder (the King Beyond the Wall) he knew he was risking his life. But he had a bigger purpose and at the time the benefits outweighed the cost.
There’s an old saying that if you haven’t failed then you’re just not trying hard enough. Risk taking is a part of business. Thankfully it’s rarely life or death but it might be pretty scary financially or emotionally.
When assessing risk, you have to decide if the potential benefits outweigh the cost, and then take the necessary action no matter how uncomfortable it it may feel.
[Tweet “If you haven’t failed, you’re just not trying hard enough”]
3. Single Minded Focus
When Jon Snow road away from Ygritte it was a very sad moment because clearly he loved her.
But he had a greater purpose and a single minded loyalty to live up to his promise to protect the wall and the realm at all costs.
He didn’t have the luxury of allowing his feelings for her to get in the way of his duty & focus.
I’m not saying we should all immediately abandon our partners or spouses, but when building a business there are sacrifices you will need to make to achieve your goals.
Once you know what the end game looks like, you need to stay single mindedly devoted to achieving that no matter what.
Tony Robbins says – ‘In order to achieve extraordinary results and fulfillment in our work or mission we need to get laser focused!’
So maybe that other get rich quick business opportunity your mate is talking about looks attractive, maybe you deserve that luxury holiday break, maybe you need a new car and your neighbor has just bought a sports model so why shouldn’t you.
The road is paved with opportunity and short term gratification right?
But remember this;
“Entrepreneurship is about doing now what others won’t so you can live the rest of your life like others can’t.”
My Dad (God rest his soul), always used to say to me ‘Joanne, Actions Speak Louder Than Words.‘
Jon Snow became a leader because he acted like a leader. Long before trouble arrived, he was teaching the others how to use a sword, how to be braver men and how to trust each other and stick together.
He also stuck up for and helped the under dog seeing something in him (Sam) very early on that others didn’t see.
In the face of adversity and hatred by Thorne he kept his calm and put the needs of others before his own, his eye always fixed firmly on the ultimate goal as a sworn brother of the Nights Watch and protector of the Seven Kingdoms.
So when trouble came it was natural that the men turned to him for leadership.
And he didn’t disappoint, leading from the front he cared about his men. He recognized their strength and weaknesses and was always willing to do anything he asked his men to do.
He had more courage, took more risks, was prepared to make tough decisions and sought counsel when he felt someone else could enlighten him further.
Need I say more about the qualities of leadership?
An entrepreneur is a leader. The two are not mutually exclusive.
The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who starts and manages a business assuming the risk.
You can’t start and manage a business without being a leader.
So ask yourself, are you ready to lead?
5. Self Belief
What I loved about Jon Snow is that he believed in himself and his ability to make a difference, but his self belief was tinged with doubt.
There you have the difference between confidence and arrogance.
He knew what the ultimate goal was and he had a great plan to get there but never did he believe himself completely infallible.
The challenge when starting and growing your business is that for most people it’s the other way round and your self doubt will be tinged with moments of self belief.
In order to achieve success you’re going to have to tip the scales. There is no way past it. You have to do whatever it takes to increase your self belief.
My No 1 tip for that is to take more risks and move out of your comfort zone more often. With each small win your confidence will rise.
From brother to warrior to negotiator to lover to leader, Jon Snow was nothing if not adaptable.
Just the very fact he wanted to collaborate with the ‘enemy’ proved his adaptability, once again demonstrating his single mindedness to achieve his ultimate goal.
Funny that I would use the terms adaptability and single mindedness in the same sentence right? But it’s imperative you get this in your business.
You must start with an end goal. A place you will get to no matter what. How you get there may take some ducking and diving. You may have to move with the trend and make sharp twists and turns to stay current and relevant.
But never lose sight of your ultimate goal as that is the point your compass will keep guiding you towards no matter what deviations you’ve had to make along the way.
The name Snow was used for bastard children of a Nobleman who were born in the North. (Other surnames were given to children from other regions).
It’s every bastard sons dream to be given the name of their father and therefore recognized as his legitimate child.
Jon Snow was given this opportunity by Stannis Baratheon if he served under him and helped him to regain the throne.
Faced with a tough decision of finally being named a Stark and being given the recognition he deserved, Jon Snow turned Stannis down in favour of staying and leading the Nights Watch in the protection of the wall and the realm.
He was immovable in his commitment to the task at hand, no matter how attractive the offer.
Sometimes you are going to be faced with compelling opportunities which will detract you from your main focus and your ultimate goal.
It’s down to you as an entrepreneur to stay committed to your ultimate goal and recognise which opportunities will move you closer to your goals and which will move you further away.
Beware the seduction of easy opportunity.
8. Self Awareness
Even though Jon Snow had been born with a sword in his hand, he continued to practice every day. To sharpen and hone his skills to better perform in the face of a great battle.
Not only did he practice but he worked with his men, helping them to also improve their skills so that together they would become a force to be reckoned with.
Jon knew he wasn’t a Maestor. His head wasn’t in books like his friend and confidante Samwell.
He knew his strengths lay in leading and fighting from the front. In inspiring others to join together and fight as one.
If you have the tenacity and desire to improve yourself most skills are learnable, however you must inherently have the ability to recognise your weaknesses and to fully exploit your strengths.
As an entrepreneur you must know yourself well enough to highlight your weaknesses and put in place systems and resources to cover them whilst understanding what it is you’re great at that will undoubtedly add the most value to your company.
9. Looks at the Bigger Picture
I have to tell you I absolutely sobbed in the last moments of the last episode in Season 5.
I thought it had been a huge risk leaving Thorne in charge while Jon went to encourage collaboration with the Wildlings.
I could see why he did it, but Thorne is an Arse. Plain and simple.
What made it worse is that it was little Olly that led Jon Snow to his death. Poor thing too young to really understand what’s going on around him.
But it was the decision to collaborate with the Wildlings that completely encapsulated Jons qualities as an entrepreneur.
Absolute clarity about what the end goal is and total single mindedness to achieve that goal, including collaboration with the enemy for the greater good.
He did this knowing his men disapproved but knowing it was the only way to fight a much stronger and bigger enemy.
Entrepreneurship is all about seeing what others can’t. Then having the courage to take action on your vision even though those around you may disapprove! (but hopefully not kill you!)
This brings us nicely to quality number 10.
Jon Snow was brimming with courage as were and are the rest of the Starks. Lady Stark & Ned taught em well!
It is literally impossible to be an entrepreneur unless you have courage.
First you have to believe in yourself and your idea when many others won’t. Then along the way you have to convince others to believe in you and your idea, whether that be investors, team members, customers.
You have to make sacrifices, spend money and time you don’t have, do things you never imagined you could do and all the time with the huge cloud over your head that your money might run out, the market might change, a competitor might out perform you, and any number of reasons that it just might all come crashing down at any moment.
(Who said running businesses was glamorous!)
Believe me starting and running a business is not for the faint hearted.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Nelson Mandela
In all honesty I’m shattered Jon Snow is dead. I almost packed up watching when Rob Stark was killed but Jon Snow as well?
Who’s going to take the strong male honourable lead now? Jamie Lannister? Bran?
Who knows but from Season 6 EP 1 one things for sure, it’s going to be one heck of a ride!
In the meantime I better get back to building my business as must you.
There’s another entrepreneurial quality. The show must go on! 🙂