I think if you’ve been a survivor of any sort, you can relate to Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind. Sure, she used her womanly wiles to get what she wanted, but hey… who hasn’t? (And men, you’ve got ‘wiles’ of your own, so don’t think you’re off the hook.)
When Scarlett tore down her mother’s green velvet drapes to make the dress that ultimately saved Tara from the tax collectors, it was ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ in action. It’s sheer ingenuity to look at those curtains, one of the only things left by the Yankees, and see a fancy dress that could be the solution to her problem.
Scarlett was smart, savvy and had the spitfire spirit of her successful entrepreneurial-minded immigrant father. Over and over, Scarlett relies on her wits to maneuver her way out of predicament after predicament. And maybe some of her actions weren’t those of a lady playing nice (like marrying her sister’s beau) – but to her, the end result always justified her behavior. She took care of herself and her ‘folk’ with no apologies – and she made riches from it.
So, how does Scarlett’s smart and savvy personality relate to your business?
Your biggest client decides to quit working with you, for no apparent reason, leaving you with a huge income hole to fill. Your shopping cart bills your customers three times for a single purchase. Your virtual assistant decides to fly off for a spur-of-the-moment week away, leaving you with hours of admin nightmare to deal with.
There isn’t a business owner around who hasn’t been surprised by these or similar challenges once they’ve been in business for awhile.
Yes, it would be nice to be prepared for all of our worst-case-scenarios with back-up procedures and the like, but please… especially if you’re the creative/idea type – who’s going to deal with all that detail for the ‘just in cases’? Not me…
When Scarlett turned that green velvet from drapery to dress, my heroine didn’t know she was carrying out a perfect example of exactly how to zig-zag your way very quickly from problem to solution:
1. She stayed focused
Scarlett didn’t let herself get all spun up about only having one dirty dress to wear, picking cotton herself, or having no food to eat during the war that was going on around her. What she did was stay focused on the task at hand: saving Tara.
All the decisions she made and actions she took came from focusing on that single goal.
2. She quickly shifted priorities when necessary
Scarlett’s mantra of “I can’t think about that now. I’ll think about it tomorrow” kept her focused and on task, and allowed her to shift her priorities when necessary.
3. She was willing to fail quickly
Scarlett made a decision and took action. If things didn’t work out the way she wanted them to, she took stock, made another decision quickly, and took action again. By being willing to fail quickly, instead of trying to figure out and manage all the potential pitfalls beforehand, she was able to rebuild her life on her terms much more quickly.
4. She was open to receiving
So maybe marrying two gentlemen she wasn’t in love with for all the wrong reasons doesn’t speak well of her heart, but Scarlett saw both marriages as a solution to a current predicament.
She wanted to stay close to Ashley Wilkes so she married his brother-in-law. She wanted $300 to pay the taxes on Tara to keep it, so she married her sister’s beau to get it. She wanted the store and mill to make more money, so she did business with those who were willing and able to pay, even if it was with the Yankees and carpetbaggers.
5. She didn’t let anyone stop her
Whenever Mammy protested Scarlett’s plans, Scarlett persisted. When her sisters protested her behavior with her gentleman callers, she persisted. When she wanted to hire convicts as laborers for the mill, and both the men in her life told her it was wrong, she did it anyway.
If you know that a solution you’ve figured out is right for you, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you know you stuck to your guns and your integrity to yourself is intact.
And lest you think I’m blind to some of the deeper layers of Miss Scarlett, let me assure you that no one is more satisfied than I when Rhett tells her, “Frankly, my darling, I don’t give a damn.”
And yet you can’t argue with her results.