Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Last Friday, I left town with six fourth-grade Girl Scouts in my car, following a friend who had five girls in her car. We joined 300 other Girl Scouts for a weekend of camping, activities and fun. On Saturday, I realized that I had forgotten to bring the Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere (SWAPS) that the girls had made to trade with the other troops.

I knew I had to tell the troop members, face their tears and try to make amends. I let the camp coordinator, Carolyn, know that we would be missing the SWAP portion of the day. She offered half of her troop's SWAPs. Her offer brought tears to my eyes and reminded me what Girl Scouts teach -- how to help others.

She provides a great example for our Girl Scouts of helping people at all times.

Her actions were authentic and transparent.

"Transparency is critical," says Tara Jones, a Princeton, N.J., based performance psychologist, in "Propping up Employee Morale," an article by Lin Grensing-Pophal in H.R. Executive online. "Leaders need to put themselves out there, be honest and role model the behavior they wish to see in their people."

This is as true for brands and politicians as it is for business leaders and even reality TV wannabes.

What is reality, and what is a good story? Does it matter as long as the big picture is generally correct?

Real reality stars are not those who drive in fancy cars and drip with jewelry while cameras follow their every move. Real stars are the people who are role models every day without the fame, the fortune or the paparazzi.

I know what reality is when I feel it. It is grown children helping their elderly parents, husbands and wives raising children together, 300 Girl Scouts camping with their leaders, boys playing baseball, teachers challenging their students until they can read, friends helping friends, people volunteering their time and their money to help others -- because they want to help others.

Real people, real life, real love. Real Stars.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.