We are living in a tumultuous time. A new President. An earmark crazed, lobbyist driven Congress. Two wars. An economic meltdown. Global terrorism. The end of GM and Ford as viable private corporations. And the list goes on.
Or does it? I mean are we really facing a host of perplexing issues…..or just one? I say the latter.
Allow me to put this in perspective. We used to have people to believe in. Proven leaders whose words and the actions to back them up, gave us insight and confidence. Because they knew how business worked, because they knew how government worked, because they knew how the world worked– or so we thought–we could go about our daily lives, with the peace of mind that we were in good hands.
But it turns out that the heroes were not really heroes at all. Think of the once-exalted icons who are now recognized to be human beings, mere mortals, who knew nothing more than we did. In fact, maybe less. And while we went about our daily lives with hardly an impact on others, they were busy ruining ours.
Alan Greenspan was the God of economics. Robert Rubin was the greatest financial engineer since Alexander Hamilton. Dick Fuld was the gutsy genius of Wall Street. Bill Clinton was the human bridge between black and white America. And this list of monumental disappointments goes on too.
All have been stripped of their Superman suits. All have proven they have nothing smart to say. All have demonstrated that those we viewed as leaders were clowns in disguise.
Which brings us back to the one problem that truly plagues us: we are leaderless. Yes, we all hope that the new President changes that but for now he is un-tested. He is a promise. And so far, promises have left us with crushing unemployment, a free-falling Dow, the imminent nationalization of our automobile industry, the near demise of Wall Street.
And just when that seems overwhelming, I say bravo. We don’t need leaders to live full and meaningful lives. In fact, they are an addiction, a mirage, that prompts us to take our eyes off the ball. To relax, thinking we can cede our responsibilities to some power hungry, egotistical suit who pretends to care for us.
Sure there are glorious exceptions. I honor Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy, Reagan, Churchill, King. But we can’t sit around waiting for the next one. And we can recognize that in our families, our careers, our companies, we can and should be the true leaders.
We can and should rely on ourselves.