Give me elves, wizards, dwarves, hobbits, witches, dragons, monsters, unicorns, spells, two-handed swords, cloaks, djinns, castles and dreams and I’m the happiest person on Earth.
So when Gary Wilbers asked me which books have shaped me or I’d recommend, I wholeheartedly replied: The Lord of the Rings and The Witcher. The reason is because when I read fantasy, I escape to unique realms. Furthermore, these books are filled with wisdom that can literally teach us how to be better people.
The Lord of the Rings is an amazing example of leadership. In case you are not familiar with the story, the future of the world depends on the One Ring, which has been lost for hundreds of years. An evil wizard wants it in order to rule the world, but fate has put it in Frodo’s hands, a Hobbit. Frodo must destroy the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom where it was forged in order to save the world. A group of men, elves, hobbits and dwarves, the fellowship, is formed to accompany Frodo. They travel together having a single goal; to destroy the evil ring. They are not together at all times but near or far, they have each other’s back, they are loyal to the mission, and focus on success and supporting one another. This is how leadership works. You put your differences aside and you help, support and protect your team.
The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, on the other hand, is a terrific example of self-leadership. Geralt is a monster hunter, who struggles to find balance between a perceived morality and his own moral code, in a world where people often prove unreliable and mean and more of “monsters” than the monsters he’s called to slay. This man always shows empathy to those less fortunate and has a golden heart even though he is usually misunderstood. A game of destiny makes Geralt adopt Ciri, a young princess, and his life drastically changes.
You may still have doubts about the lessons learnt, so please allow me to present you just some examples. Trust me, there are a lot more and I would have to write for days!
Lord of the Rings: Persistence, Goodness, Joy
1. As long as we are persistent, we can achieve extraordinary things.
Frodo ultimately completes his journey and literally saves the world. He had so many obstacles in his way, yet he didn’t quit until he made it. His small size didn’t stop him because his courage was bigger than life. He parted from the fellowship and succeeded. At that very moment, nothing else mattered. Not his origin, his experience, his age, his dexterity, but his heart and his loyalty to the mission.
2. “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”
Sam, Frodo’s gardener and friend, said one of the most iconic and all-time classic quotes. There is beauty in the world and there is some good as well. There is always something that is worth our time and effort. Maybe some problems are bigger than us, but we should try to be the change we want to see in the world instead of generating more problems.
3. Remember to enjoy life
Hobbits look for a reason to celebrate life all the time and they celebrate it with lots of food and wine. They meet their families and friends and have fun with songs, dances and stories. It is important to remember what we have and feel contentment. We often take things like a hot shower, potable water, or breathing with an unblocked nose for granted.
But let’s move from the fellowship to the lonership.
The Witcher: Bravery, Justice, Powerful Solitude
1. “You catch fear. Didn’t you know? When something bad happens to you, you have to go straight back to that piece of equipment or you get frightened. And if you’re frightened you’ll be hopeless. You mustn’t give up. Geralt said so.”
We must never give up out of fear. We should face our fears in order to excel. If we just give up, we will not grow and we will never reach our self-actualization. We don’t deserve to live a life full of fear. We deserve a lot better than this and the strange thing with fear is that it is so easy to get used to it, and just go with the flow. We need to have a little faith and always look ahead, overcoming our fear.
2. Do the right thing.
Geralt always does what he believes to be the right thing, even if he sometimes understands that the right thing will not be a pleasant experience for him. This is what makes him a hero, though, even if not everyone understands or appreciates him.
3. Sometimes, it’s good to be alone or with someone who will not judge you.
Geralt loves and trusts Roach, his horse. He enjoys her company and she is his best friend, because he can be his true self with her. There are no second thoughts on her behalf — she just loves him for who he is. Animals can teach us to be a better person. Certainly, Ragnar, my dog has taught me a lot of things and being alone or just with him is peaceful and powerful.
So after reading all my favorite books once again, I gave fantasy a shot as an author. You can check out my book ‘Leadership like a fairytale‘ – a part of it is a fantasy story teaching what leadership really is.