This is the first of a tripartite series of articles that attempts to draw analogies between Sansa’s play in the Game of Thrones and that of an employee working the corporate environment.
“Will you please just shut up!!“
This was Sansa rebuking Arya when she kept asking about the Imp. And this is how I remember Sansa from her early days in Winterfell- a bossy elder sister, too enamoured of the nice things in life; basically a child.
Look at her today- “You stand accused of treason, you stand accused of murder. How do you respond to these charges? Lord Baelish. “
Sansa’s transformation – from a fairy tale princess to a Realist Leader has many lessons for us- the ones who work the corporate.
- You are a pretty one!
That’s the first thing that King Robert Baratheon says to Sansa. The wooing process has started. And with that begins Sansa’s infatuation with Joffrey and King’s Landing.
Isn’t this how we all start out- the new job, the bigger pay check or the first pay check, the swanky office and the new designation? Soon enough, the realities of the new job hits us- the underlying power centres, the influencers, the delivery of promise (or lack of it) and so on.
Some parts are good too, like the hunt with Joffrey, the pretty dresses, the proximity to the Queen and the immaculate portrayal of royalty. This phase ends rather drastically with her father being executed on the whim of a boy King; her betrothed.
This dramatic execution is her initiation into the School of Survival. She’s the only of the Stark children to have evolved politically; others resort to armies, strength in numbers, battle acumen and physical prowess; Sansa Stark learns to use the only thing that’s still in her control- her mind.
In many ways, a new job or the first job brings you face to face with reality. When you spend only what you earn; and earn only what others deem you deserve. This stage is crucial because it benchmarks “your” sense of self- worth against reality.
- Lady Stark, you may survive us yet!
Sansa gets punished frequently for every win that Robb Stark adds to his banner. The beatings and humiliation are common place now for her.
Remember that scene where Joff almost has Sansa disrobed by Ser Meryn Trant. Tyrion saves her and tells her to just say the word if she wants the marriage annulled. Sansa walks off with as much dignity as she can muster, while saying “King Joffrey is my one true love”.
That’s the first time that Tyrion Lannister notices her, “Lady Stark, you may survive us yet! “
This is that phase in the organization where the realist inside you starts taking shape. You know that you have to make the best of this situation; let a few things go, evaluate all options and start taking charge.
When King’s Landing almost falls and Cersei suddenly leaves the Sept with Tommen, it is Sansa that holds the women and babes together. She sings a hymn, holds hand with everybody and becomes a person that other women derive strength from. This is but momentary, but it makes you think that there might after all be more to Sansa than crying, cribbing and lying.
Unbeknownst to even Sansa, she’s slowly becoming practiced at the Game of Thrones. Come to think of it, everybody has plans for Sansa, including Sansa herself. When King’s Landing prevails against Stannis Baratheon, Joffrey becomes the undisputed true King. Sansa is smart enough to not run away then. By then her marriage to Joffrey is annulled in favour of the more politically disposed Margaery Tyrell.
This is that phase in the organization when you start seeing clarity around your role or even the lack of it. You have new responsibilities or have been freed of those that were dragging you down. Or even better, you are learning how to manoeuvre yourself around managers and team members.
Sansa’s journey from Winterfell to King’s Landing probably makes you feel that she’s a misfortune magnet. But it is only through immense struggle that you forge the most powerful of characters. Sansa doesn’t know it yet, she just has to struggle on; for the time being.
Sansa’s character evolves slowly; in the background of the power struggles, the spiders and the coin and the dragons. So slowly that you barely see it, until it stands in front of you; not any less majestic than the dragons!