Jeanine Cogan
Executive coach

Jeanine Cogan

Heads Cogan Coaching and is on the faculty of the Center for Continuing and Professional Education at Georgetown University.

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Fame as destroyer

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?

If the media covers it -- then it is successful. So is the current cultural narrative. Nowadays everyone wants his or her five minutes of fame -- and some people will go great lengths to get it -- even if it is negative press coverage. Those examples are limitless. Yet fame does not equal success. In fact, fame often destroys success as we witness time and time again.

Success comes from having a sense of ethics and living by them. In my book, success includes social responsibility -- something our individualistic-oriented culture (fed daily by reality shows and other such media) has lost sight of.

Are you a success if you find ingenious ways to launder money from financial institutions? Are you a success if you were the top mortgage broker in 2006 by selling mortgages to people who could never really afford them? Are you a success if you crashed a White House dinner and got on national TV?

We have examples of real success all around us. A friend of mine who recovered from anorexia after struggling with it for 15 years and now has dedicated her life to helping others recover. My mom who survived a life-threatening operation last week. A cousin who created his own business and has thrived financially even during this economic downturn.

These people don't make the national newscasts yet they are the real models of success. Imagine if our media focused on these folks and their stories?

By Jeanine Cogan  |  December 3, 2009; 12:34 PM ET  | Category:  notoriety vs. success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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