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My wife and I recently watched the show, House of the Dragon, on HBO.
It’s the prequel to Game of Thrones and one of the better shows to come out in the last year.
But what I love about the show isn’t the action, the acting, or the dragon fights. I’ll try not to spoil it if you haven’t watched it yet…
What I love about it is a simple principle that was once commonplace, that no longer exists.
Otto Hightower is the hand of the king. He worked his whole life to reach this position. And he is a valuable aid. He serves the king loyally.
His daughter is close friends with the princess. They live in the protection of the castle. And life is good.
But Otto has ambition.
When the queen dies, he sees an opportunity. And he positions his daughter to become the next queen.
She doesn’t love the idea. Marrying for power instead of love. But she bears the burden well.
She gives birth to several children, including the future king.
And over the course of 3 generations, an average family has gone from scraping by to running the show.
Otto goes from growing up as an upper-middle class citizen to becoming one of the most powerful people in the world.
And he does so by carefully putting himself in the best position he can achieve. Then he can put his children in a better position. And then his children’s children.
He could never become king himself. But he could become the hand. And his daughter could become the queen. And his grandson, the king...
This is an idea I first realized when watching the movie, Spotlight, about the evil festering inside the Catholic church.
You can’t defame or destroy the catholic church by playing against where they are today. They have deep pockets and deep roots.
Their self-preservation spans thousands of years across countries and wars and everything else you could imagine.
Like Otto Hightower, they think in centuries.
So you must also think in centuries if you’re going to defeat them. Which, of course, these journalists in the film were unable to pull off.
It’s like the game of soccer. You can’t run to where the ball is. By the time you get there, you're too late. You have to run to where the ball is going to be.
Or the book, Unrestricted Warfare, written in the '90s by a couple of lieutenants in China’s People’s Liberation Army. In the book they details the ways in which they would destroy the United States without ever dropping a bomb or even so much as lifting a finger.
Things like information warfare… TikTok.
Slowly unraveling our morals.
Making us fight against each other.
All of which has happened better than any of them could imagine.
China thinks in centuries.
Their country has a long history through dynasties and lineages that have come and gone over thousands of years.
Compare that to the United States’ 250 year blink of an eye and a culture where instant gratification isn't fast enough.
Whoever thinks longer-term wins.
Of course, thinking further ahead requires more resources. But the longer out you can think, the better off you and your house will be.
You can safely know that nobody thinks in generations anymore because nobody cares about their "house."
Most only think about themselves: My money. My legacy. My business.
But in House of the Dragon, carrying the family legacy was a high honor.
It still can be. If you make your name an honorable one.
But most names aren't worth carrying because they've been drug through the dirt by short-term thinking and selfishness.
Society gets it backwards. It’s not about your last name, it’s about making your name last through the generations.
This is the only way to build a legacy.
How would you change your life, your business, if you were optimizing it for your children, or your grandchildren?
That’s a tough question... but the answer is priceless.