Celeste Owens

Celeste Owens

A motivational speaker and licensed psychologist with a PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Pittsburgh.


People will talk

Q: How much privacy do super-successful public figures deserve? Do the infidelities of Tiger Woods or former presidential candidate John Edwards change your perceptions of them?

Fourteen years ago, at the age of 17, my unwed sister became pregnant. It was the talk of our church where my father was an associate minister.

Would we have liked privacy? Absolutely!

Did we get it? Not on our lives.

Whether you are in the limelight or a super-successful public figure such as Tiger Woods, people are going to talk. Although many people are not combing the Internet, watching television, and/or reading newspapers and magazines for tantalizing tidbits of information about Wood's "transgressions," those who are (give or take a few million) are doing so with a vengeance. Unfortunately, gossip comes with the territory.

Being a public figure has its advantages (e.g., endorsements, huge signing bonuses) and disadvantages (e.g., being held to a higher standard/role model) -- one cannot divorce the two. Like it or not, to whom much is given, much is required.

People who are truly successful strive to live with integrity and honesty. These character traits establish and solidify the trust of those who follow and admire them. When that trust is broken, the road to recovery can be long and grueling.

When public figures err, I am more saddened than shocked. Their sphere of influence extends well beyond their circle of family and friends and their mistakes have the potential to be devastating on so many levels. Yet, to err is human and we are all prone to make mistakes -- even the famous.

The old saying, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is true. As for my family, my sister's pregnancy although challenging, drew us closer. My nephew, the focus of other's gossip so many years ago, is now a respectable 14-year-old of whom we are proud.

By Celeste Owens  |  December 7, 2009; 2:43 PM ET  | Category:  privacy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: A scrutinized life | Next: Honesty and trust


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I have to agree with you Dr. Owens. Ideally we would like to maintain a certain level of privacy when it comes to our personal lives. But when you are in a position of influence you have to expect your personal life to be watched carefully and under scrutiny. When you want the public's attention you have to know it comes at a price. Whether you're endorsing a product, or preaching hope from a pulpit, the value of your words will be determined by your character; or at least the public's opinion of your character. There will always be those that want to hold you accountable for everything you do. Accountability has its place, but those that seek to punish should be married to the idea of restoration as well. If a person apologizes, and asks forgiveness, I admonish everyone to forgive such a person. Help them get off the mat, and do better. If you ever make a mistake, you should know that people will remember how you treated your fellow man when the roles were reversed.

Posted by: rometap | December 8, 2009 12:51 PM
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