So now another high-profile male political figure has come clean about his lack of integrity. The past couple of years have been busy ones: from Spitzer and Edwards, to Kilpactrick, Ensign, and now Sanford. ABC News even has a web site devoted to “Politicians Who Cheat”:

There’s 17 featured in all, all male (but that’s a subject for a different 60-Second Email™).

One question that has come to my mind every time I see the disgraced politico at the podium is: “What’s changed?”

By “What’s changed?” I mean, why is the politico apologizing now? Is it solely because he got caught? Or that the issue has gone public?

Why is it that only after these men have been exposed, do they apparently have regret or view their actions as inappropriate? (In conversations I’ve had with several women, they would argue that, in fact, they don’t in both cases, and the regrets and apologies are just as insincere as the original misconduct). Moreover, why, in most cases, do these leaders cease the relationship once it’s gone public?

Now I’m not arguing for infidelity, but, in general, if you truly believe something is worth doing, why do you stop doing it once others learn of it?

Bottom-line, whose opinion of yourself and your conduct matters more: yours or others?

If I’m about to do something immoral or illegal, shouldn’t my own awareness of that fact be sufficient to stop me? In general, why do we need others to let us know we messed up, when we knew that before we started?

In 1955, Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham created a simple, useful tool called the Johari Window to help us better understand how we communicate and how we handle our relationships with others.

In essence, Luft and Ingham said the following:
There are things about ourselves that we know and that we don’t know, and
There are things about ourselves that others know and don’t know.

Those things about ourselves that others know, but we don’t know: those are our blind spots.

I would argue that some of our male politicians have some fairly large blind spots. And they, their family, their colleagues, and those they have led have suffered accordingly.

The question I’d like answered then is this: If their own opinion of their conduct was insufficient to stop them, did they at any time receive unsolicited advice from anyone alerting them to their conduct? And did that have any impact?

We all have blind spots to a certain degree. For many, they’re not as serious as those featured as the leading news story. Nonetheless, we can be blind to what we should know about ourselves. Ask your spouse, significant other, or very good friend, and if they have the courage (some, though, don’t even need that), they’ll tell you what you don’t see.

And that is invaluable. To have someone who’s willing to tell us what we should know, when we can’t or don’t want to know it. That will save many of us from having to make the trip to the podium.

Have some thoughts on the blind spots you’ve seen in others or even in yourself? Click here, and post your comments.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • David,
    There are three things that come to mind when I think about the proliferation of reports of “inappropriate” conduct by those in the news.
    First is that we often forget that these gliterati are only human and subject to the foibles of humans. One of those foibles is that when one becomes a gliterati, he/she forgets that he/she is only human and creates a whole new set of gliterati ethics. That happens to corporate stars as well as political and movie stars.
    Secondly, When they “transgress” it’s always against a spouse, the one whose feelings they should be most solicitous of. It seems that they’ve transcended the equality of the “team” they’ve joined. Again, this happens to corporate stars as well where the good of the team takes a back seat to the good of the star.
    Thirdly, although I abhor reading all of this gossipy drivel, It’s interesting that the media is the messenger that brings these celestial beings back to earth. Unfortunately, there is no media reporting on middle management or senior management of mid-sized or smaller companies. Perhaps one of the rituals required prior to assuming or being promoted into a managerial role is that the incumbent take an oath “to love, honor and always be sensitive to his/her staff”.
    Keep writing this great stuff.

  • David Harper
    July 12, 2009 10:53 am


    You raise some interesting points, and prompted some thoughts.

    I think much of the outrage against these leaders is fueled by 2 things:

    1) They did something immoral, wrong, etc. that hurt a close loved one, and
    2) That by doing so, they’ve disappointed and deceived people who, rightly or wrongly, had high expectations of them.

    I think the latter point is what makes people’s blood boil the most. And although people may be at fault for their unreasonable faith in leaders, celebrities, etc. these days, many who are put up on a pedestal seldom ask to be lowered down to the level of everyone else. There seem to be few leaders, when the glow of public adulation and admiration is at its brightest, that humbly note that they’re only human. That is usually saved for after the fall or public humiliation.


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