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Reject the Trap of Reflected Glory
The contemporary obsession and fixation on celebrities and the ultra-wealthy is a curious example of what should — and should not — really matter to leaders. Society regularly bestows great value upon particular individuals for the success and notoriety they have achieved. Some are great innovators or thinkers. Others have amassed great fortunes. They may even be great leaders.
As a result, many become mesmerized by the aura surrounding the celebrity. Some of us will, wisely, want to know what process or plan the celebrity followed to get to their exalted position. But many, and you may have to examine your own heart here, are drawn to the person because we fancy ourselves as sharing similar qualities. We may even harbor fantasies of rubbing elbows with them.
We always have a choice as to whether we celebrate the person and their fame or to look deeper for lessons from their footpath to stardom. Society pulls us like a magnet toward the former and creates an unhealthy environment for those who seek to “bask in reflected glory,” as the academics like to call it. The best among us reject this temptation and use successful people as a roadmap rather than as a flag.
The best leaders find strength in understanding the many paths that lead to success. They don’t have a strong need to steep themselves in the glory of others. People prefer to follow leaders who are self-secure and confident in their own right.
For those talented colleagues around you, seeing the framed photo of you standing next to a celebrity or famous politician actually detracts from your credibility. They were hoping you were more secure than that. Perhaps you should replace that picture with a photo of you standing next to a team member. That is worth celebrating.