Love her or hate her (HATE her? What is WRONG with you?!?!?!), the fictional Olivia Pope is one of the baddest women to grace primetime TV in years.
Olivia Pope is strong, smart, savvy, and beautiful. Even her slightly shambolic love affair with a married man (um, the president) isn’t enough to make fans of the show SCANDAL give up on our knight-in-shining-power-suits.
Between her fierce wardrobe (where does that woman buy her jackets?!), her competent and morally ambiguous team of employees (laws? what are those?), and her determination never to back down, Olivia Pope is what my grandpa would call a “bad mamajama.”
She’s not a lawyer. She’s a gladiator… in a suit. Want to be one too? Here are ten lessons for aspiring protegees.
Lesson One: There is always another move to be made.
Quinn: So, we lost? I mean, what happens when we lose? We’re just…done?
Olivia: We’re never done. If we lose this round, we prep him for appeal. If we lose that, we prep him for a second appeal because whatever happens, there’s always another move. Whatever happens, we do not give up. It is my name on that door and I do not give up.
Did you hear that? Olivia Pope DOES NOT LOSE. Not necessarily because she always gets it right the first time, but because she doesn’t give up. The lesson here? There is always another move to be made.
In other words, don’t be afraid to try something and “fail.” Olivia says it herself: failing just means that you didn’t learn, adjust, and, most importantly, try again.
Lesson 2: Write your name on the door.
Olivia: I did what I had to for my client. I made a tough call. You don’t like it, Abby, too bad. It’s my name on that door, not yours.
Not everyone owns their own shady, seven figure law/PR/consultant/goon squad but everyone has areas in their life where their name is “on the door;” areas in your life where YOU get to make the final decisions.
What career you choose. Who you date. When to spend $200 on a pair of shoes. (I know I’m not the only one…)
Write your name “on the door” of these decisions and then let people – parents, friends, mentors, co-workers – know, in the wise words of Olivia Pope: It’s my name on the door. Not yours.
Lesson 3: There is no such thing as a “secret.”
Olivia: It’s a dirty little secret. And dirty little secrets always come out.
You should want to tell the truth because it is the right thing to do. You should want to tell the truth because your mamma raised you right. You should want to tell the truth because honesty is one of those things that contributes to you being a decent human being.
But even if you could care less about any of those things, you should still tell the truth because no matter how far and fast you run, the truth will ALWAYS catch up to you.
Lesson 4: Just because you don’t see things happening, doesn’t mean things aren’t happening.
Quinn: We should be doing things. Things should be happening. Shouldn’t we at least file a missing person’s report?
Harrison: Just because you don’t see things happening, doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. With Olivia, things are always happening.
Sometimes progress happens behind the scenes. Sometimes an opportunity will come into your life at just the right moment, only for you to find out that when all is said and done, it’s been months in the making.
If you’re a person of faith, you know that just because you can’t always see God working in your life, doesn’t mean he isn’t up there making a way out of no way!
Lesson 5: Hone your intuition. Trust your gut.
Olivia: My vote always comes down to my gut. My gut tells me everything I need to know.
The most successful people in business and in life have spent years honing their intuition. Time after time we hear stories of business tycoons, industry leaders, and ordinary folks who have followed their dreams who have made life and career altering decisions because at the time “it just felt right” or they just “knew” that they needed to go in one direction instead of another.
They may not have had as many facts as they would have liked. They probably had folks in their lives who were trying to steer them down the other path. And yet, they “knew.” Like Olivia, they let their gut make the final call. Trusting your instincts is a muscle. Exercise it often so that it’s there for you when you need it the most.
Lesson 6: Know your worth.
Olivia: I had a job, a paying job from which I took a leave of absence to do a favor for my friend Cyrus because I am good. I am brilliant. I would eat breathe and live Fitzgerald Grant every minute of every day. You would be lucky to have me.
The lesson here: if you want to take over the world (ie. get that promotion you’ve been eyeing, talk to that fine guy at the bar, write that novel, start that business), not only do you need to believe that you’re qualified to do so, you need be willing to tell anyone who doubts you.
Know your worth.
Lesson 7: Don’t take on lost causes.
Olivia: I don’t do lost causes or tilt at windmills. I don’t perform miracles or do the impossible. I make cold calculations about difficult situations and I do not take on anything I know I won’t win. And i will win this.
Some of us can’t help but take on known lost causes. And what’s worse, when we ultimately lose them, we blame ourselves.
Olivia routinely takes on cases that look all types of impossible to solve. And yet she manages to solve them… every.single.time. Not just because she’s a fast talking lawyer with an impeccable wardrobe, but because before she agrees to throw her time and energy into something, she calculates the odds: her resources – her connections, subject matter expertise, previous experience, financial capital – vs. the scope of the challenge.
If the odds are in her favor, she moves forward. If they aren’t, she doesn’t.
Lesson 8: Everyone needs fixing.
Huck [to Quinn]: Olivia Pope fixes things. That’s who she is. You need fixing. I don’t need to know your story. We all have a story. Everyone in this office needs fixing.
You need fixing. I need fixing. Actresses, supermodels, rich people with luxurious lifestyles need fixing. No matter bow bright and shiny we look on the outside, all of us have things that we struggle with, baggage that holds us back, moments we wish we could do over.
Everyone needs fixing. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Lesson 9: Go down trying.
Cyrus: [To Olivia] Think we could do it again? The impossible?
Olivia: Or we go down trying.
In case you weren’t paying attention to Lesson 1: Olivia Pope does not lose. Olivia Pope does not believe in words like “no” and “can’t.” Olivia Pope does not give up.
Neither do you.
Did I miss anything? For all of my other SCANDAL fans out there, what would you add to this list?