John Edwards and Leadership Values
The saga of John Edwards is more tragic than it is disgusting. Here is a man who has lied and lied, not just to the world, but most importantly, to himself. And my big question is why we, as a nation, are so gullible? Why did we take so long to see his charade?
Were there aspects of his tendency to cover the truth when he was running for President of the United States? He always posed with such a pretty face and spoke such pretty words. I remember having an annoying feeling in my gut that all was not right with his world and yet, and yet….it takes determination and a capacity for tenacity to even become a contender for the White House crown. He had credentials and had been vetted by his colleagues, deemed worthy of the job.
The day I knew he was down in the dirt of it was when he visited his “past relationship” late at night and on his way out was caught by a reporter and made a dash to run and hide. That made me cringe, thinking about how he would have handled a major international crisis.
Now, I can only hope he finds a way to make peace with all of his relationships: his ill wife, his children with her, his “mistress”, and the love-child they brought into the world.
This type of situation goes deeply into the psyches of the next generation, and the next. In our Total Leadership Connections program, participants are asked to chart their family history – to learn what patterns of the past have influenced their present thinking and behavior. It is an eye opening process that helps leaders become clear about what “baggage” they carry into their important jobs.
Perhaps all captains of industry, all leaders of organizations, all who are in positions of power for the public good need to take the time to do what we have named the “Sankofa Map”. The term Sankofa is from Ghana, from its mythology and means “clear the past to free the present”.
The wisdom of older cultures is that they took into account the behaviors of ancestors. There was a sense that what was done would impact both present and future generations. These concepts might serve us well in this day of instant gratification and power paradigms.
For John Edwards, Elizabeth, et al., I can only hope that there is a period of honesty and truth telling that can begin the long, arduous process of clearing the past to free the present.