Virginia Bianco-Mathis
University professor, author

Virginia Bianco-Mathis

Business department chair of management programs at Marymount University and author of two books on executive coaching.

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To what end?

Q: Is the culture of celebrity and reality TV eroding our understanding of what constitutes success? What should we tell our children about people such as Tareq and Michaele Salahi who apparently crashed a White House state dinner in pursuit of reality TV fame?

Stephen Covey tells a great story of a perfectly executed project. As the story unfolds, the listener marvels at the just-in-time communication, shared vision, motivated personnel, and coordinated plan.

In the end, the listener realizes that Covey just described a successful bank robbery. Covey goes on to talk about values and ethics.

Such is what we are dealing with when we watch the shenanigans of Tareq and Michaele Salahi and other energetic participants in the world of reality TV. This should not surprise us. Our society tends to foster celebrity status and fame as a measure of success. Yet, just like the bank robbery, is that the best use of one's talents?

Obviously, the Salahis are attractive, creative, persistent, determined, politically savvy, and motivated. They have a clear vision and are going after it with a vengeance, fostering a certain picture of success.

The question is, of course, to what end? Besides giving us fifteen minutes of entertainment and a few laughs, how has this couple added value, enriched society, or used their expertise to make a difference and achieve something good?

A mistake we often make in our society is viewing success as an "either-or" proposition. Rather, it is more helpful to create an "and" proposition -- how can I use my talents to be successful and "do good"? That's true success.

By Virginia Bianco-Mathis  |  December 3, 2009; 11:45 AM ET  | Category:  notoriety vs. success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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