Fear can be a great motivator, a great defense mechanism. Without the instinct to flee in the face of danger our ancestors may have never survived. Whereas that may still prove beneficial if we are deciding to walk down a dark alleyway, under more common occurrences it can prove detrimental. Today, when our environment is safe from saber tooth tigers, fear can often act as a deterrent to reaching our true fulfillment. In order to achieve or to be successful some manner of risk is necessary. Taking risks means we are unsure of the outcome and have to face the fear that the final result may prove negative for us. We worry about the consequences and discomfort of failure.
On a societal scale fear of consequences is an important part of maintaining order via laws and rules and acknowledging the consequences of violating them, leading to punishment. The hope is that this will assist in modifying behavior that might lead to criminal actions. But too often the fear of the consequences can happen after the fact and the resulting behavior can actually put the individual in a greater risk.
In this week’s show we discover that Quinn has been hiding her true identity because of the accusation that she committed a horrible crime. Despite the weird way she received her new identity, she chose not to come forward and try to clear herself but rather to take advantage of the opportunity to attempt to erase her past. I have found that it is nearly impossible to escape whatever crisis you hope to avoid, especially in this age of information. It will eventually come to light and more often than not the consequences will be greater and harder to correct. It is more important that you take a proactive approach and try to engage on your terms. As we see with Olivia’s client, Congressman Shaw. She actually leaks the sex tape he is worried about and not only diffuses its effect but also provides him the opportunity to use the press to convey his political message. She takes a proactive approach rather than try to cover it up or deny it.
Ultimately, the easy road proves to be the most difficult and precarious one. In Washington we often say that the cover-up is worse than the crime. It is clear that Olivia is covering up something—how did she fix Quinn’s identity and why? How will Olivia explain this to Quinn? Will all this catch up with her, because inevitably it will. She must know this and we have to see if it’s part of a bigger plan or will she be reduced to having to play a reactive role herself? The truth may not set you free but covering up can definitely bury you.
Judy A. Smith is the founder and President of Smith and Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles as well as a Co-Executive Producer of ABC's Scandal. You can follow her on Twitter (@JudySmith_) or "Like" her on Facebook, and you can get more information about managing personal and professional crisis situations by visiting her site, judysmith.com.