Now before you start crucifying me for taking life lessons from a television show about fixed political elections, marital affairs, government propaganda and cover-ups, sexual promiscuity and last but not least, illegal torture methods (now that I think about it there’s not much about this show that is legal), here me out. Shonda Rhimes has created a show with a strong (not perfect) black female protagonist, and while this is not the first nor the last show of this kind, there are still a lot of positive images we can take away from this show. (Even though when I now introduce myself to people, they're now like, "Oh like Olivia from Scandal"! At least they don't compare me to Olivia Newton John any more).
Now that season four has ended, here are 6 career lessons I’ve learned from watching Scandal. Warning: Major spoilers if you’re not up to date.
- Never mix business with pleasure.
How many times do we see Olivia falling for the allure of a strapping man and losing focus of the mission because of it? Mixing business with pleasure is never a good idea. Not only does someone always get hurt, but you’re risking your professional reputation and everything you’ve worked hard for. Seal the deal first, but keep the communication lines open; just in case you may need them again for “something”.
- As a Black Woman, “You have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have”.
This is not meant to be a racially charged post, but to give career advice without acknowledging the elephant in the room is offensive and pointless. This quote came after Olivia was revealed as the President’s mistress. Imagine finding out your credibility is possibly down the toilet because of a few moments of unbridled passion. Not like a woman needs anything else to knock her down the corporate ladder. Pay gaps are a real issue in the workplace. Women are even treated differently in the workplace. Think outside of work for a moment. I can’t put air into my own tire or power steering in my engine without some guy approaching me, asking me if I really know what I’m doing or just doing it themselves (not even offering, just take control). On the job, men often think I can’t lift a heavy box on my own, or I’m encouraged to wait for a man to do it for me. Not trying to say that chivalry isn’t appreciated, but when it comes off as if I don’t know what I’m doing just because I’m a woman, then I’m offended. And being paid less to do the same job is even more offensive.
The ruthless don’t always win.
I remember being discouraged on the job when I worked with a woman who went out of her way to steal my job title and make me look incompetent. I decided not to fight it. I knew I wanted to excel and be awesome at my job, but the additional stress in fighting someone who made it their personal mission to put me down was a losing battle. I decided instead to wait for karma. Look at what happened to Andrew, and everyone who aided in the plan, who went to such great lengths just to force the President’s hand in a war. They say nice guys finish last, I say good things come to those who wait. Just continue to put your best foot forward, and keep a positive attitude. While there are times that you will have to be tough in order to get ahead, don’t go out of your way to earn the title ‘bitch’. That’s not very flattering.
Speak with authority and always make eye contact.
I always believe in looking someone in the eye when I speak. It’s actually something that really annoys my mother because I will run her down, and chase her around the house, just so I can stand in front of her to speak. I feel as if she’s not listening and really hearing me if she’s not at least looking at me.
Furthermore, if two people are speaking and one not only sounds like they know what they’re talking about, but like they have the authority to say it, and the other is shuffling, stuttering and avoiding eye contact, who would you believe? (It’s also a good way to tell if someone is lying or not). Olivia has poise and an elegant way of speaking that is almost haunting. I think she said it best, “I am very good at what I do, I am better at it than anyone else. That’s not arrogance, that’s fact.”
Know who is on your side, and who is in your way.
People will have their opinions. They can either be constructive or destructive. Know how to tell the difference, and be careful of who you let into your inner circle. Sure the company may be great, but you’ve gotta be able to trust the people you surround yourself with. If you wouldn’t tell a friend or associate about a job interview you have coming up because they may steal it from you, you need to realign yourself. Also be cautious of the people who feel like they always need to tell you what to do next. Because it doesn’t really matter what other people think you should be doing with your life. All that matters is that YOU know what you’re doing with your life. Right Fitz?
When all else fails, always have a backup plan.
In the nail biting wrap-up of Olivia’s kidnapping, we think all hope is lost when Olivia finds out that she won’t be sold to her friends like she hopes. But in the end, she knew better than all of us because she knew both parties who were bidding on her very well. Even when all hope seems lost, Olivia is thinking of another plan, another way out. Some people go into situations saying if this doesn’t work, I don’t have anything to fall back on. That’s silly. It’s one thing to go with faith, but also have faith in an alternative and your ability to survive regardless.
Is there anything you've learned throughout watching one of Shonda Rhimes' gut wrenching dramas? Sound off in the comment section below! Don't forget that you can connect with me through Facebook and Twitter, and feel free to ask me anything that may be on your mind or request something you'd like for me to talk about!