A Song of Ice

I’m reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It’s epic fantasy and has a wonderfully unique voice. Give it a shot.

There is an execution scene near the beginning of the story. It stood out to me because the lord of that massive realm didn’t have a headsman. He did the deed himself. I wondered why.

Then the lord’s own son asked him why. And Lord Stark explained.

We hold to the belief that the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die … A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is.

After reading that I asked myself, “What hard tasks do I have that I try to delegate to someone else? Do I ever hide behind paid executioners?”

Difficult choices are not actually all that difficult. It’s the carrying out of difficult choices that is tricky. Usually we know the right way. We know what needs to be done. But we don’t want to do it. Usually we try to get it done by proxy – to get someone else to take care of it.

Getting someone else to do something for you because you’re busy is efficient. Getting them to do it because it’s awkward is dishonest and, eventually, very bad for you.

Do the dirty work that needs to be done yourself. You’ll be better off for it, having learned what it means to do dirty work. You’ll be better respected for it. And it’s a much more honest way of living.

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