WHAT DO YOU WANT? Lessons in goal setting by Olivia Pope.

ABC’S Scandal Character Olivia Pope Credit: ABC TV

If you are in the least minimally familiar with the ABC TV show Scandal, you know Olivia Pope. She, like me, is a Crisis Manager who (unlike me) has a very adventurous, roller coaster of a love life. At first glance, (actually through a couple of seasons) you would “assume” that all Olivia wants is someone special to love her and be loved in return without drama, pretense or angst. So to see her week after week get screwed or mishandled or fall for the “okey doke”…and we all commiserated with her to no avail. It kept happening. BUT one conversation on the show changed that for me. Why? Because I now knew what Olivia REALLY wanted. I learned that what she put herself thru was the price to obtain what she was after. Note this conversation between Olivia and Edison her ex (but returned) boyfriend that she is about to break up with yet again.

Olivia: I don’t want normal, and easy, and simple. I want..

Edison: What? What do you want, Olivia?

Olivia: I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love. Don’t you want that, too?

Edison: Love is not supposed to be painful or devastating. Love isn’t supposed to hurt, Liv.

Once the viewers found out what Olivia really craved..her end game..we were able to ebb and flow with her method of getting what she needed as unconventional and unorthodox as it was. Edison’s mistake? He ASSUMED what Olivia wanted and viewed her desires through his own “definition” of love. He didn’t respect her desire. He wanted her to buy into what HE thought love should look like for her.

It was also at that moment that I saw my own mistake in dealing with clients. I have the unique ability to step into a situation and immediately assess what I THINK is the problem. However, that assessment is through the lenses of my own view of function and dysfunction. I may be aiming for a target that they don’t see as an issue. At the end of our engagement, I will tout success in an area that they didn’t view as a problem. So now, I leave nothing to chance.

The question that I ask each client before engagement is simply… WHAT DO YOU WANT? Before I can begin to assess deliverables, I have to be clear as to the expectations.

What I have discovered is that most clients don’t know what they want. Defining desires and being clear as to the end game is CRITICAL for measurable success. How will I know that I delivered what was needed if I have no statement of clarity to measure it against?

Back in my dating years, I would always ask “If we decide to walk away from this relationship, what things would have had to happen to cause you to know that it was still worth it?” That question was a roundabout way of asking WHAT DO YOU WANT? By being clear as to what matters to them even if the relationship ends, helps me to focus on the things that are important in their eyes.

Now let’s personalize this principle. Not about your clients or your business. No, YOU personally. Simply put, you can’t go after a goal that isn’t clear. So before the end of the year…what do YOU want? What’s your year’s end game? What’s the ONE goal that you want to nail before December 31st? Clarify it.

Even if your goal is one that isn’t normal, and easy, and simple, go after it and don’t allow anyone one to redefine your target. Be it is as painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing and extraordinary as it is, It’s YOUR end game. Own your desire. Own what it is you REALLY want.


Camille D. Jamerson is a global speaker, author & entrepreneur. She is the Senior Consultant and CEO of CDJ & Associates a boutique management consulting firm. As a former AA, EA, Chief of Staff and Head of Global Offices she lends her years of experience and expertise as the founder and admin of the LinkedIn Chief of Staff-The New C-Suite Leader group.

Her amazing assistant, Reema handles her wacky calendar and about 76–94% of the rest of her life as well. Reema can be reached at info@cdjandassociates.com to book CDJ for consulting or as a speaker for your next event, conference or workshop!

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