Cinderella, in a Victorian illustration. Image courtesy Andre Cefalo.
One of the most outstanding and attractive features of SCA life is the knowledge that the Cinderella Story (or the Pauper to Prince Story) can be true for a few lucky individuals. The lure is hard to resist, even for those of us who will never be a Prince or Princess in SCAdian life.
Even if it doesn’t turn out to be true for ourselves, we are often able to witness our closest and dearest friends achieve that dream, or to watch from a short distance as it happens to folks we know. In essence, this is what folk speak of when they relate life in the Society for Creative Anachronism to “The Dream.” It is the heady knowledge that a motorcycle mechanic, convenience store clerk, a legal secretary, a college librarian, a stay-at-home parent or a preschool teacher could achieve a place to belong and a status in the SCA that defies achievement in modern life.
This is The Dream as we know it, and few of us doubt our ability to wing it when we get there. I bet you the reader have a mental checklist just in case the Unknowable Joy happens to you. Here is mine:
Aoife’s Toolkit, in Case of Spontaneous Awesomeness
1. Tremendously spiffy outfit.
2. Spiffy outfit for spouse and/or children.
2a. That pair of incredible shoes I couldn’t justify before now.
3. Bottle of celebratory beverage and cups.
3a. More celebratory beverage because the party will be huge.
4. Upgraded feast gear.
5. Tune up the car because we WILL be traveling.
6. Travel money.
6a. Travel club membership (my car isn’t new).
6b. Hotel money.
6c. Emergency money.
6d. Spare credit cards to spread out any debt.
7. Decide who is allowed to drive my car (I gotta sleep sometime!).
8. Chiropractor money—coronets don’t wear themselves. They say that those suckers are heavy!
9. Spending money.
10. Babysitter money.
11. Dog sitters.
12. Case of 12 hour energy drinks. Make it two cases.
If you read my list you will notice that I probably left a few things off, but that is to be expected. No one can think of every instance of need. However, I can be sure if lightening strikes and somebody wins Crown Tourney while fighting for my honor, that I will be somewhat prepared to take on the job. After all, I have people who can advise me. I have a history of participation, so I know how the SCA works. Of course, there’s an entire awesome structure built solely to manage the kingdom for me. I might spend more than I wanted on a reign, but apart from that, what else could I need?
As real and SCAdian history shows us, there is quite a bit more I will need. None of it is tangible, but it is essential tomy well-being and to that of the Kingdom. Acquiring these things, furthermore, will cost me something in short supply:
Time. You see, I and every person who ever wishes to sit a throne, even every person who doesn’t, will function more amiably and efficiently if we own and use the following items:
Aoife’s Awesomeness Preparation Kit, the Intangibles
1. Problem Solving Techniques.
2. Strategies for Negotiation.
3. Conflict Resolution Skills.
4. Delegation and follow through skills.
5. Humility and thankfulness.
6. Rational thought in times of emotional stress.
Learning these skills is a task that can be left to experience, but that might be a bad idea. In order to learn from my mistakes, I would first have to make them, right? Lucky for me, that learning can be accomplished by reading online, for free, the many advice columns dedicated to the subjects. Many of them are written by business professionals, but others are by life coaches. It is up to the individual to follow through, to use the tools when the occasion strikes.
If, like me, you find yourself short in training or practice in these skills, I have collected some handy links, below, to save time. After all, if you are going to be sitting the throne, you’ll probably want a refresher course, and have little time to take it. In the end, however, it will probably be my ability to deftly handle these intangible skills more than any other thing I can do to prepare ahead of time, that will determine how I as a fictional future ruler will be remembered. Do I want to go down in History, or do I want to go down in flames? The choice is mine to make, and I will make it based on my actions. Regardless of any mistakes, however, it is the last item on my Intangibles list that will make the difference when problems happen (as they always do). Forgiveness: Moving past strife into a future where hurt feelings are dissolved, where we work together to improve The Dream.
I would like to wish luck to all the combatants in the upcoming Crown Tourney. May you fight well and honorably. If you win, may you rule wisely, with many skills in your toolkit!
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon, CL, CP
M/k/a Lis Gelatt
Seven Steps for Effective Problem Solving
It might seem that ‘problem’ is another term for ‘conflict,’ but that is not always true. What if your problem is that the rain is flooding your sleeping tent, or that there are not enough chairs for the number of feast seats sold? This site will give you a quick process to identify, brainstorm, solve and follow through on a myriad of problems, even if you’ve never dealt with problems like that before.
When you are in a position of authority, you are going to need things, some of which are items, some of which are obstacles to be cleared, and some of which are tasks. With this site, learn how to deal with bullies, how to barter, getting around barricades, and how to avoid poking the sleeping bear.
This well-written resource allows you to read, in simple scenarios, how to work around conflict. It is based on the premise that everyone deserves to win, and a win-win scenario is possible.
Mind Tools: How Well Do You Delegate?
Take the quiz to see how your skills rate. Read the article to see if you can improve your skills.
Lifehack: 20 Creative Ways to Say Thank-you
From digital to personal, in foreign languages or by sending cookies, this site helps make being thankful, and sending thank-yous, less of a chore.
Mind Tools: Dealing With Angry People
Management of an emotional situation can depend entirely on how you respond. Do you know how to answer so that you project understanding? Or will your response engender further anger? Believe it or not, this is a learnable skill. Find out how at this site.
Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness
Believe it or not, forgiveness is a health issue. Read here about how the habit of forgiveness can improve your life (and by extension, your kingdom).