Living in the Fishbowl

Posted by on Jul 1, 2005 in Success!Ezine For You



E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2005

As you become successful, you must prepare for the fact that you will become more visible and what you do will be subject to public scrutiny. The careers of many successful people go up in flames because they refuse to keep their lives in check. When your profile rises, you become a “celebrity” – even if only on your job, in your volunteer organization, or in your local community. This means that what you say and do is of interest to others and they will have their eyes on you even if you’re not paying attention to them. Keep tabs on your own behavior so that you enhance your success and not sabotage it.

  • Watch Your Mouth

Everything you say potentially has significance to someone. This is especially true if you are responsible for making decisions that affect others. A glib remark or lighthearted joke about a subject can be interpreted as a matter of life and death to someone else. Forgetting your public persona and prematurely talking about your company’s plans before you’ve told your staff, for example, can result in a public relations disaster and an internal nightmare. Depending upon your position, even your family and closest friends may have to “be the last to know.”

  • Mind Your Manners

While you may not have volunteered to be the symbol of decorum and high society, people will expect this of you anyway as your success grows. How you dress becomes important – even when on your own time. You and your success have a “brand” and you will be rated and measured against this even during chance, informal encounters with others that you feel should not matter. Similarly, how you behave is critical. Many people complain bitterly that they’re not trying to be a role model for others but, like it or not, you are. Others make that decision for you. They look up to you, admire your success, and some will watch your every move in the hopes of being just like you one day.

  • Accept Reality

Rather than insist upon your right to “do your own thing” and not expect to experience negative consequences, get a grip. Face reality. This is the way it is – for everyone as they move up in life – not just you. Some people say “the heck with it” and behave in ways that embroil them in one scandal after another, makes them the butt of jokes, or target of scorn and ridicule. Don’t do this to yourself. If you treasure “being yourself” that much, step down a few rungs on the success ladder where fewer people care about what you’re doing and you can enjoy greater privacy and anonymity once again.

Life in the fishbowl can take some getting used to, but you can handle it. Share your feelings of frustration with mentors and others who have already adjusted to being high profilers and learn from their coping strategies. Consider the loss of some personal freedom and spontaneity as the price you must pay for success and use your emotional energy to enjoy its many rewards instead.


About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

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