FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | James Cathcart | June, 2011
As I watch the evening news of late I am once again dismayed at the apparent arrogance and foolishness of some in positions of leadership. Lately of course, it’s been Congressman Anthony Weiner’s debacle that is making headlines. He’s only the latest in a string of potentially great leaders who lose their way however, and eventually lose everything that matters. Congressman Weiner may recover from this political suicide attempt, but if he does, he will forever be known as that leader who made a real difference, BUT…
Too many powerful people have that “BUT” associated with their legacy and it leads many to ask, “how could these guys be so stupid? How can these men be Rhodes Scholars, or Harvard Law alumni, or professors at Columbia University and yet be so dumb?”
While I believe that these men’s actions are colossally stupid, I don’t think that they are necessarily stupid people. I think they are careless however.
Imagine, in your mind’s eye, an oak tree. The trunk looks strong and hearty, the branches look robust and flourishing. Sadly however, and unseen to the naked eye, the roots are beginning to wither, either through malnourishment or disease. The tree can sustain the image of health for quite some time, but once the winds begin to blow and the rain pounds, that oak is going down, and going down hard.
Many public figures, if they are not extremely vigilant, pay so much attention to the trunk and branches of the tree that they neglect the roots. They are so concerned about their charisma, their communication skills and their image, that they ignore matters of character. They do this because the surface stuff is the stuff people see. No one sees them in private, so they believe they can lead double lives and get away with it. And they do…
for a while.
Eventually however, it all falls apart. Always.
So, let these incidents on the evening news serve as a wake-up call for those of us playing the duplicity game. At the very least then Weiner, and those who have tread the same path can at least know that they served as an excellent bad example for the rest of us.