THE BLOG
11/04/2011 11:41 am ET Updated Jan 04, 2012

Why This Country (and World) Is So Screwed Up, In a Word

It's what makes life so unpleasant, miserable even. It's the bosses who make employees feel worthless, it's the wives, husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends who pick fights, it's the politicians who behave like utter buffoons and it's the parents who put their kids down. It's the bullies, the warmongers and the narcissists too. They all have one thing in common. They are playing a game, not with other people, but with themselves. Unfortunately, the rest of the world gets caught in the crosshairs.

To understand these folks though, is to consider their counterparts first. We all know how it feels to be around the kind of people who bring out the best in others. They don't have hang ups, rather they inherently have a motivating and uplifting effect on those whom they touch. You can see their confidence not only in their eyes, but also in the way they act, think and operate. At work they are focused on actual work. At home they are low maintenance. And in general, drama is not part of their repertoire. They don't take things personally and are easy to talk to. All that said, it boggles the mind to think that they are the exception, not the rule. Why is that? Why is confidence not the ideal for which we strive? And more importantly, how have we gotten so far away from the good and healthy that we find ourselves mired to this extent in the bad and dysfunctional? And yes, sickly.

It starts and ends with one simple and profound flaw. Our schools, organizations, governments and sometime families do nothing to help people feel secure. In fact they do the opposite. And so the opposite of secure and confident is what we get. In the workplace we see insecurity take the form of defensiveness, irresponsibility and deception. In personal relationships it rears its ugly head through paranoia, distortion and fear. In politics it's about how the need for power and control makes people act all kinds of crazy.

In the absence of confidence (and I mean real, true, authentic confidence, not ego-induced bravado and swagger) we have deep-seated insecurity driving people to find ways they can convince themselves they are not exactly what they fear. Weak. Powerless. Vulnerable. In a word, insecure. That's the game -- a tug-of-war between who they are afraid to be on the inside and the "person" they've created on the outside to cover it up. But that game will forever only serve the insecurity while its conflict has a ripple effect far beyond. It will never, and can never, serve the greater good.

So, when people ask, "Why is power such a great motivator?" Know there's a reason. People who want power, need power. Not all, but the good, sincere ones are outnumbered, as has been made obvious by the current state of affairs, both here and abroad. In the meantime, if you really want to change the world, do what you can to make the people around you feel secure and then imagine how much better the world could be.

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