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How to Stay Out of Jail

I am amazed at the number of rich, famous and successful people who seemingly forget that the rules the rest of us live by also apply to them. I have a theory that, once a person gets to a certain level of success and wealth, the air becomes very thin up there and her ability to think clearly is impaired. Although success and money may impair one's abilities to think clearly, there are steps that can be taken to avoid making the types of mistakes that create unpleasant results.

I am amazed once again at yet another CEO scandal. I was reading an article about the soon-to-be-former CEO of HP, Patricia Dunn. Dunn will step down from her position at the beginning of 2007, "amid a widening scandal involving a possibly illegal probe into media leaks" (Associated Press, Sep. 12, 2006). It appears that Dunn thought it was okay to obtain private telephone conversations using personal information about members of the board of directors and others. The story is still unfolding; however one thing seems clear, the air must have been too thin for Dunn to think clearly.

It seems something happens to people when they become rich and successful. I don't think being rich and successful means you have to break the law or commit other immoral acts. I believe there are ways to avoid these situations, which actually are not limited to the rich and successful. The first line of defense is to remain true to your values. Most people's values don't include lying, stealing and wiretapping. If you keep in mind what is most important to you, the chances that you will be tempted to do something illegal or immoral are slim. If you stay true to your values, the chance of getting into sticky situations is more unlikely. I am not saying this is easy however I believe that staying true to your values will make your life much less complicated.

The second way to steer clear of trouble is to avoid the worst enemy of humankind, the tendency to justify. The minute one has to begin justifying his or her actions, the red flags should fly. You don't have to justify what is right, but when something is wrong there are a million ways to justify the action. Even Dunn is justifying her actions. Dunn commented that, "These leaks had the potential to affect not only the stock price of HP but also that of other publicly traded companies," (Associated Press, Sep. 12, 2006). Although this may be very true, two wrongs do not make it right.

The third way to avoid getting into trouble is simple but provides powerful protection. Have a best friend or confidant who will tell you the truth and call you on what you are about to do. I have made a pact with one of my best friends that if he ever thinks I am doing something stupid that will get me into loads of trouble, he is to immediately tell me and do what he can to stop me. I believe that if we surround ourselves with people who will tell us the truth, many mishaps could be avoided. I personally would have loved to have had five minutes with Martha Stewart just so I could have said, "Martha, what are you thinking?" It appears many rich and successful people surround themselves with "yes people" and that isn't a good thing.

Let's review: the three ways to stay out of jail, avoid embarrassing your family and ruining your reputation are to

1. Remember your values and stick to them
2. Avoid justifying your actions
3. Have at least one close friend who will tell you the truth.

If you follow these rules you will forestall ever seeing your name on the front page of the daily paper for doing something less than stellar.

Coach Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD provides daily motivation, information and inspiration to thousands of busy self development enthusiast who want to stay focused and on track to their goals through her award winning e-zine 365 Days of Coaching. For a free report, "The Power of Daily Action - How to create more Wealth, Health and Happiness by Tapping Into the Power of Daily Action" go to

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