Born into a well-off Anglo-Irish family in 1821, her childhood bridged Ireland, India, Scotland, and England. Her family’s high means meant she was thoroughly spoiled, and instability at home only exacerbated her innate restlessness. She soon gained a reputation as a ‘wayward mischief maker’ – regularly causing commotion at church and causing quite the stir when she ran through the streets naked.
She eloped at 16 and married an English man but separated 5 years later.
Eliza then took up dancing, and embraced the stage name – “Lola Montez, the Spanish dancer”.
After being too recognisable in her childhood cities, she took her performances to France. Unfortunately, her Parisian debut in dancing was not well received – and she quickly found her dancing career stagnated. This was when her true talent started to emerge…
After socialising in the bohemian circles of France – Eliza, now Lola, set her sights on Alexandre Dujarrier, the owner of, and drama critic for, the highest circulation newspaper in France. Alexandre was a well-connected and well-respected man, and after an orchestrated horsetop meeting, he fell deeply into Lola’s spell. Soon they were living together, and his journalistic influence meant that her dancing opportunities suddenly opened back up. The two were near inseparable, at least for a while.
It wasn’t until their first quarrel that the pattern that would define Lola’s ongoing relationships started to show itself. Post-quarrel, Alexandre attended a party by himself and, in a drunken state, insulted the competing drama journalist Jean-Baptiste Rosemond de Beauvallon (possibly in defence of Lola). Jean-Baptiste was a proud man and a capable dueller so the next day he challenged Alexandre to a duel and shot and killed him.
Lola, seeing her ticket to Parisian success quickly expire, moved to Munich where she set her sights on yet another man – this time King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Through some more orchestrated scheming and a little bare breastedness, she quickly wove her spell over Ludwig. Soon, through her manipulations, she found herself named Countess of Landsfeld and Baroness of Rosenthal, along with a receiving large annuity. However, she was an arrogant politician, and her enticing spell didn’t extend as far as the Bavarian public. Just one year later, under pressure from a revolutionary movement the previously adored Ludwig was forced to abdicate the throne and Lola was forced to flee the country.
She ended up in London where she set her sights on yet another man – a young army officer, George Heald, who had just received a large inheritance. After casting her spell once again, and despite Lola still being technically to her very first husband, the two were married. The newly-weds were soon chased out of town on bigamy charges, and two years later George drowned.
Lola repeated this cycle in the US, leading to the murder of a man, and in Australia where she beat the editor of The Ballarat Times with a whip. At age 39 she fell ill and passed away.
She didn’t walk into these countries looking for ‘any man’, just like we shouldn’t walk into our businesses looking for ‘any solution or improvement’.
She first spent time understanding her context along with the key players. It was only after scouring the social scenes that she would actively select a man to pursue. Only then would she devise the orchestrated meeting, the captivating mystery, the web of allure and ultimately the ongoing manipulation.
The same rings true for us as leaders. After we’ve spent time understanding our context, we should then narrow in on our specific target.
Lola couldn’t enchant all men (at the same time), but she could enchant the ones she set her sights on. We can’t achieve all improvements (at the same time), but we can achieve the ones we set our sights on.
We must be specific.
We must choose.
We must define was success looks like in the end.
Then, and only then, should we devise the tactics to get there.
That’s the heart of strategy, and it’s the heart of true change success.